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Vital Weekly 762

img  Tobias Fischer

It has been nearly four years since we last saw a release by Koji Asano. 'Galaxies' is is his 44th full album since 1995, but only the first one since 'Oboe Trio No.1-No.3' from 2006 - see Vital Weekly 564. That was an odd album of baroque like music, but for 'Galaxies' he's back on track with something more experimental. I must admit I don't remember all the previous 43 releases by him by heart, but I doubt if there was a lot of music that used solely field recordings, which seems to be the case with this new release. In this work rain and insect sounds play an all important role. Clocking it at exactly sixty minutes, this seems to be using the sounds from cicada's in Japan, which sing like no other. This piece seems to be not moving at all, when listened to superficially, but upon closer inspection, there are lost of small variations to be spotted - its most certainly not a straight forward recording of an hour rain and insects. It stays on the same level, volume-wise, which makes this perhaps less of a composition, but more likely sets an environment at home. Why just an hour, and not a DVD of say seven hours? A perfect sound environment, using (perhaps) solely field recordings. (FdW)


Friedlander is a cello virtuoso from New York, known for his work for John Zorn and many other collaborations. He was commissioned by the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum in 2008 to compose a collection of musical pieces inspired by the Hebrew alphabet. He composed fifty small units. For the CD these units have been clustered - again a compositional process - in seven pieces for this CD. Why 50? Well because he was reaching the age of 50 at that time, and also because it is a number full of biblical connotations. 7 is the number of fullness. 7 x 7 symbolizes the most fullest fullness, combined with one it indicates for a new start. In the composing process Friedlander was inspired by the 14th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Nun. But despite these evident Jewish sources of inspiration, the music is not overt Jewish music, although echoes of Jewish music surface every now and then. Besides I'm not sure whether Friedlander has Jewish roots and whether he views his music as Jewish. Also this music can hardly be called jazz or improvised music, although both elements are inherent in this music. The music presents itself more as a kind of classical chamber music of a contemplative nature. It is performed by Jennifer Choi (violin), Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), Trevor Dunn (bass), Erik Friedlander (cello) and Mike Sarin (drums), a quintet he formed for this occasion. The music received a very transparent recording. This way it is possible to follow each movement and to enjoy all colors. Nice work. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


JAKUZI'S ATTEMPT - III (CD by Wire Globe Recordings)
Jakuzi's Attempt have their base in Wolfsburg, Austria. They are around since 2004 and describe themselves as a progressive hardcore band. In 2006 they released their first one. Now their next one is out. So they seem to take time to develop their music. This seems the more the case as  more as this cd only has four tracks, played by Martin Pfeiffer (drums), Markus Steinkellner (guitars, vocals, programming) and Philipp Kienberger (bass).
This music has all the raw and brutal energy we know from hardcore, but it is combined with elements of another nature. They mix for instance also dark and slow passages in their compositions that make you feel uncomfortable. The title piece ÕII' is one continuous stream of dark, indeterminate sounds, that never take the shape of a song, but remain an amorphous amount of sounds. They do a passionate job, one must say. Also it is satisfying to hear that they are open for experiment. They do not lock themselves up in limited hardcore-rules. On the other hand, results are not earthshaking, but there is some potential here. So I hope it takes not another four year before they release their next attempt. (Dolf Mulder)


A work composed and produced by Jonathan Uliel Saldanha, a young composer from Porto, Portugal who worked with musicians like Damo Suzuki (Can) and Mark Stewart (On-U). For many of the projects and groups he is involved in, he usually hides himself behind the name HHY. For this solo-album he is helped out by seven musicians, one of them being Filipe Silva with whom he runs the Soopa-label. What he is presenting is a kind of concept-album filled with wide orchestral and choral proportions. In line with alchemy and hermetic cosmologies that inspire Saldanha, he seems to like big gestures. After repeated listenings I still find myself not knowing what to think of this pompous musical work. It is pretentious electro-acoustical work that somehow connects to the world of Wakhevitch, Art Zoyd, etc. Some of the tracks evoke medieval and baroque times. Other pieces like 'Rumor is Listening' is a sort of intermezzo of sound poetry. 'The Fall of Lintukoto' opens with field recordings of birds. The opening track has dominant percussion with jungle sounds in the back, and associations with ethnic music come across. So many influences are integrated in this work. A bizarre work, and in that respect a welcome one. In one way Jonathan Uliel Saldanha spreads out many ideas and techniques. But the results are in my ears only partially satisfying. As a composition, it is not appealing to my standards. A bit too eclectic, and not convincingly incarnated from a consistent idea. The music is performed by eight musicians, including Saldanha himself who did a lot of processing of the material in order to reach its final form. (Dolf Mulder)

Three veteran European improvisers join forces for this one: Michel Doneda (saxes), John Russell (guitar) and Roger Turner (percussion). Early 2009 they went into a studio in Le Havre. The cd is published by Ecole Superieure d'¡rt du Havre. Doneda is known for his many appearances on records from the Nato-label. Both Russell and Turner appear on many records of improvised music since the end of the 70s. Together they have a long history of working as a duo. But they have no problem Doneda joining in here. It is a fantastic session of very intense and communicative improvisation. The music has drive, direction. It is multi-angled and full of subtleties and nuance. Very vivid music that creeps all over you. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


A decade ago I received a brutal power electronics album from an artist called Navicon Torture Technologies. It was the album "Scenes from the next millennium" released on Malignant Records in 2001. Behind the NTT-project was Lee M. Bartow alias Leech from the New York Power Electronics scene. Genre-wise, NTT, had elements of many industrial-noise sub-genres such as power electronics, death industrial, harsh noise, and powernoise. Now Leech has shipped another project from the dark world of crushing electronics, this time under the flag Theologian. Present album "The Further I Get From Your Star, The Less Light I Feel On My Face" released on the Crucial Blast label is the debut of Theologian. Compared to the ultra-violence of the "Scenes from the next millennium"-album this new project/album more likely operates in the subtle expressions of harsh electronics. The crushing symphonies operates in the sub-levels with utter black ambience delivering some dark and sinister atmospheres. Everyone interested in noise and experimental ambient should take a listen this excellent piece of rumbling darkness. (Niels Mark) Address:


MANAMI N. - KILLING WASABI (CD by Private Electro)
Kill Wasabi is a concept album. That is how they called this debut album of Manami N. Mostly I felt a bit anxious about albums with a concept. Lot's of words had to explain how you had to interpretative so called difficult music. But in this case I am happy with all these words which explain more about the 10 tracks. It gives an extra dimension to the music. Manami Nagahari worked firstly in an office at her birth-town Niigata in Japan. Then she moved to Tokyo and influenced by this city she started as musician to sing in several bands. At the end of the 90's she started tot make music with the computer. Together with Kenji Yamazaki she starts the band Komoemellia and created music for games and dance tracks. Kill Wasabi is her debut solo album and the style is hard to describe. It contains different styles who doesn't combine at first sight, but her beautiful voice connects all musical sources together. The album starts with a jazz-standard, with a high night-club mood, complete with strings and horns/saxophone. The short song is followed with noisy sounds which overlapped in easy-listening jazz and back again. It seems something completely crazy, but she can create harmony between these worlds. And that is the concept of the album. A tribute to her roots in Japan, but also to kill something to create something stronger and beautiful. Wasabi is a herb and when you boil it the taste will become stronger. "Heya no naka" is created together with Mark Badur. The original is played with violin and has a great minimal music character, like the early years of Steve Reich. A very strong composition. The remix has been done with horns and has more a melancholic mood. My favorite track is Kawaita Sabaku, what means "I am in the desert." The track starts dark and with a heartbeat and develops into more melodic moments with strings and percussion. A great track what tells about the thirst and isolation in the desert. An interesting album to start 2011. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


LOOPER - DYING SUN (CD by Another Timbre)
When starting to review, one first has to play the music, well, obviously of course. Usually that starts with the inspection of the cover, press text, website etc, so that I know what I am hearing and I'll be writing about later on. But this doesn't always happen. Sometimes I just pick random a CD from the pile and start playing it. This happens with the first of these three new titles on Another Timbre, UK's fine house for improvised music. I tried to write down what I heard and found myself writing such words as 'electro-acoustic', 'surface scanning' and 'electronics?', but not any specific instrument. Later on I learned that I was listening to Rhodri Davies (harp, ebow, electronics, preparations), Lee Patterson (amplified devices, field recordings etc.) and David Toop (laptop, steel guitar, flutes, percussive devices). So perhaps my sparse notes weren't far off the mark? They recorded these six improvisations already in 2006 in a studio (not in concert, like many other releases on this label) and they put on display their skills in crafting some extraordinary improvised music. What I especially liked about it is the fact that it sounded so without instruments and so much very like electro-acoustic. Davies' harp as big sounding and resonating object and everybody playing small objects on likewise resonating surfaces. Its a fine mixture of improvised music and electro-acoustics.
The second release is a more conventional release of improvised music, although perhaps more in the Another Timbre sense than in conventional free jazz areas. Here we have two instruments - the percussion of Chris Cogburn and the soprano saxophone from Bhob Rainey - and a set of electronics, played by Bonnie Jones. She and Cogburn are new names for me. Two live recordings from 2010 here, both from Texas. This is the music of careful exploration of sound, sound possibilities, textures and minimalist moods. Where every instrument, in this case percussion, soprano saxophone and electronics, is explored for all the possibilities. So you can use the saxophone as a percussion instrument and get these high pitched sounds from objects on the surface of the drum skin, whereas the electronics… well, they are what they are: its probably the most difficult instrument in getting them to play something else (analogue?). In these two pieces we can follow them in these exploration, this search for possibilities. One can choose to lie back and let this all flow over you, this stream of sound, or one can sit, concentrate and follow each move. I found both possible here. Music that makes you wander off in some of its sheer silence and minimalism, but also take the route of highly demanding, concentrated listening. Refined.
The final new release on Another Timbre is not by an ad-hoc group - common in this world of improvisation - but by a group that exists for a longer period, Looper. A trio of Ingar Zach (percussion), Martin K¸chen (saxophone & pocket radio) and Nikos Veliotis (cello & video). This release (co-released with the Cathnor label actually) is the follow-up to 'Squarehorse' (see Vital Weekly 445). There is apparently a video part to their live music, which obviously is not present on the CD version, but the music can stand well by itself. Of the three new Another Timbre releases this is the one that sounds perhaps least improvised. Looper deals with a lot of sustaining sounds, played by all three and is, certainly in the long opening piece 'Grand Redhsift' very bass heavy. Sometimes small sounds come in, mainly it seems from Zach, but throughout its a fine mixture between drone like sounds and improvised music. Veliotis is the man of the drone like textures here, whereas the other two follow suit here, but occasionally play something else. Overall, I thought this CD was a more concentrated effort than the previous - but then in a six year gap a lot can happen. An excellent release all around here. Maybe next time a DVD version? (FdW)


ASPECT(T) - WASPNEST (LP by Toxo Records)
The world of radical improvisation is represented here with the music of Aspec(t), an Italian duo of SEC_ on laptop, processed tapes, analog synth and radio and Mario Gabola on feedback and acoustic sax, resonant/feed drums. They both have an extensive career with such bands as Asp/SEC_, Weltraum, Endorgan, A Spirale and Strongly Imploded. All of these, as far as I heard them, are to be found in a similar area of improvisation meeting noise. Themselves they refer to Pateras/Brown/Baxter, John Butcher, Jim Denley, Rudolf, Dave Phillips, Sudden Infant, Lionel Marchetti and Jerome Noetinger. This is shown in their music. Partly analogue, sometimes massive noise based, but also with a strong love for small sounds and odd textures. The cover lists eleven tracks, but I found it hard to detect eleven different tracks. It could have been one per side, or thirty, as far as I could tell. Not that it really matters of course, what counts is what's pressed in these grooves. And that's something I like very much. I am known as someone who doesn't love noise being over the top, but when noise is presented as something that comes in a bigger context, either free improvisation, totally controlled or something in between, then you have my blessing. Aspec(t) does exactly that: their loudness fits well with the softer moments, the free jazz of the saxophone, the banging of a drum, and the controlled textures of the electronics. Controlled mayhem as such, but excellent in its disorderly fashion. A very fine record, would be great to see them perform live. (FdW)

According to the website of Apolllolaan, this particular release is already sold out, so why bother with a review, I muzzed? Well, perhaps because I reviewed other music by Dead Wood before. Dead Wood, nom de plume for Adam Baker (who is also behind the Dirty Demos label, of whom I lately didn't hear much), who teams up here with one Matthew Shaw, of whom I don't think I haven't heard before. Dead Wood's music has slowly evolved, over the years and over a variety of releases, into something which we could loosely define as laptop sound. There is, say, a faint trace of field recordings (people talking, the shopping centre) of which sounds are fed through a bunch of computer plug ins and/or analogue sound devices to create that mild humming drone like sound. The four pieces on this release have that on display in a rather nice way. Its hard to say who does what on this release, if such a thing applies in here (or is indeed necessary, because why should we care who did what here?). The end result is what counts. Four pieces of drone music, delivered with some dignity, and as such nothing spectacular. Not in terms of what it is, or how its made, but throughout executed with some style and great care. Not that shift in drone music, but then perhaps not necessary either. (FdW) Address:

Mystery Sea continues to surprise us with new names. Here we have the debut album (or rather 'his proper significative debut', which may hint at other releases) of Jeremie Mathes, from France. He studied electro-acoustic composition and uses on this album sea shells, reef, shore, sand, rumbled, insects but also cymbals, candle holder, bass, ebow, horn, various percussions and electronic devices. Not that its easy to tell from what I heard as Mathes knows very well how to transform whatever it is that he uses into five pieces of what is best described as 'sound matter'. Its not easy to detect some aquatic theme to it, usually required by the label (other than perhaps such titles as 'Mary Celeste' and 'Sund'), but Mathes creates some fine drone like music that goes well with the label's catalogue (which, come to think of it, taking in account their ongoing release schedule, can be placed along the lines of Drone Records and Taalem, except Mystery Sea does them one at a time). The acousmatic approach used by Mathes is not that of gliding scales of sound going up and down, but slowly building blocks of sound. His music resembles in a way that of Kassel Jaeger, another new name from 2010, that holds promise for the future and in some ways also Main/Robert Hampson comes close. Mathes delivers quite a good debut album. Not really a surprise in terms of 'new' music, but its all crafted in a more than excellent way. (FdW)

ELEKTRIK UNDERGROUND 2010 (CDR compilation by Motok)
The new year kicks of with more music from Nico Selen, who was present in a few of last weeklies Vital with a 7" by O.R.D.U.C. and a double CDR by NoNotes. This new CDR was officially released on the last day of 2010, and therefore called 'Elektrik Underground 2010', so I wondered: why not 'Elektrik Underground 2011'? On this compilation Selen is the main man for all the music, which he records under a plethora of aliases. Each moniker has its own style, but throughout its all electronic. Two tracks each by O.R.D.U.C. (including a new remix by 'The Sea' from his 1981 debut LP!, and by far the best track from that LP), NoNotes, E.M.M. and one by Wolff P. Rilings and three by Selen as Nico Selen. Perhaps over-indulgence? Nah, its probably a good way of self-promotion. As said, the tracks here come from his thirty year career, but were all reworked in one way or another in the second half of 2010. Its a fine showcase of what Selen does, although it stays all quite close to his more experimental work, certainly when it comes to the two NoNotes tracks or the Rilings piece. The two E.M.M. pieces are quite minimal, but also more cheerful. They almost come across like pieces of automated playing. If the recent releases made you curious and you haven't got a clue where to start, then this compilation is perhaps the best introduction to Selen's soundworld. Limited to 30 copies only, but with a nice printed cover. (FdW)


JUSTIN RODRY & MATTHEW HIMES - ROMANTIC LOVE (cassette by Lighten Up Sounds)
NEON SEA - FADING LIGHT (cassette by Lighten Up Sounds)
A VIBRANT STRUGGLE - THE MOLTEN SNOW TAPES VOL. 5 (cassette by Lighten Up Sounds)
Three cassettes by Lighten Up Sounds, although you might spell it differently. The first is by Justin Rhody and Matthew Himes. Rhody is known from Hepatitis B Youth, (D)(B)(H) and Himes from Shep And Me, Mole Hole and Free Boys. The first plays 'violin, microphone, feedback, electric guitar) and the latter electronics, tapes, feedback, acoustic guitar. Twenty-four minutes of improvised music which seems a split channel affair, or otherwise its a failure in recording - the b-side is more in balance. I am not sure. The label calls this 'ugly stuff', and that's true indeed. This is ugly stuff, but not necessarily in a negative sense. But the lo-fi noisy improvisations on this tape do not lighten up your day very much, I'd say. The recording, made with a simply microphone somewhere in the space in which the music was created, picks up the signal and the result is a crudely improvised sound, but I must say that these recordings have something about them, which I quite like, although I am not sure what it is. Maybe just because its so low in almost everything perhaps, without going over the top that much? I guess that must be it.
Dan Kaufman is the man behind Neon Sea. His list of instruments shows us accordion, bass, drums, electronics, tape manipulations and vocals rasps. The proceedings start out in some dark ambient land but over the course of sixteen minutes things build up in a steadily crescendo of noise. The second side starts out in a more noise oriented fashion and stays there. Of the two sides the b-side is also the one in which we recognize the bass best, and accordion waving highly reverbed hot beds of drone sounds in the background. Feedback wails along and drums are solemnly in the background. Closed off with a strange tape manipulation. The mixture of noise and ambient works quite well here and Kaufman does a fine job to tie both ends together. Nice.
In 2007Jan-M Iversen, Sindre Bjerga (together sometimes known as Bjerga/Iversen) and Steffan de Turck (Staplerfahrer) got together in a cabin somewhere in the mountains of Norway. A story that I typed before, since that week long session spawned a variety of releases. Armed with their tools - guitar, contact microphones, electronics and they recorded every bit they did. Hence a flurry of releases which goes on for years now. The previous one I heard was 'Between The Woods And Frozen Lake' didn't do much for me ("Just why this was dug out for release kind of eludes me", I wrote, perhaps somewhat harshly), but then this one however is quite nice. Again the menu prescribes 'improvisation' and that's what these three men do, and they do it well here. I am not sure to what extend these recordings have been edited - hardly it seems to me - but 'Perfumed Nightmare', the b-side here, is a nice piece of flowing electronics, feedback, small sounds (cutlery from the kitchen is mentioned) and flutes make up one of the finest moments I heard from this sometimes hit and miss trio. Quite curious to see when this particular vault is empty. (FdW)


FRANS DE WAARD - KUBUS (cassette on My Own Little Label)
This is the second Frans de Waard cassette I received for review in a very short time (Arrel/Juur being the first one) and, if you count the New (Y)Ear compilation cassette on Korm Plastics, it is the third. However, as I was featured on New Ear, I can't do a review here in Vital Magazine (which, incidentally, is a shame as it is a great tape plus it comes in one of the best conceptual "covers" ever). It all goes to show cassettes are alive and well. At least with De Waard they are, which holds a tantalizing promise for the future. Kubus is not only released as cassette, but is also dedicated to the label Kubus Kassettes, which was one of the first Dutch independent cassette labels in the 80s. Apart from the title, there are more connections to the Kubus label. De Waard used Kubus' label boss Rob Smit's theories on ambient music (specifically the ambient music of Brian Eno) to create these three long pieces. I will not bore you with the complex ins and outs of these theories, but, worth mentioning is that like Smit, De Waard used glockenspiel as his main sound source. The recordings are selectively reworked in his laptop creating three new pieces; 'Stemmingen' (moods), 'Slag Werk' (drums) and 'Terug Gaan' (returning). The first track features some harsh and grinding frequencies, without being actual noise, wavering in and out of the 16 minute piece. It is impossible to recognize the Glockenspiel as sound source. Track two is completely different and features the clear sound of a bell from the Glockenspiel, which comes as something of a relief after the demanding first track. The bell is struck clear and without any effects, which develops into a nice piece. The side long Terug Gaan features the frequencies also used in the first piece, but now almost developing into a melody. The length of the track allows more interplay between the various sounds and adds general variation, which makes this the best of the three tracks. It is clear that this cassette was made with a firm concept in mind. As such, Kubus feels like pieces created in honor of the concept, rather than pieces made to entertain. Kubus was made for Frans de Waard himself, which gives the tape a "like it or leave it quality". Notwithstanding, this IS a very worthwhile release, obviously of great personal importance to its maker. A special hooray goes to the cover of Kubus; I really like the grainy feel of the images used. It remembers me of a bygone time of grotty photocopiers and endless yet wonderful hours of gluing and folding covers. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address: /moll.html

The complete "Vital Weekly" is available at: Vital Weekly


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