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Vital Weekly 765

img  Tobias Fischer

Back in Vital Weekly we reviewed 'Music For Tears' by Rolf Julius, and we noted that he is quite famous in the field of sound art, but perhaps not that well-known in the world of Vital Weekly. Now that may of course change due to the good work of Western Vinyl, who plan a series of CDs with his 'small music'. 'Music For A Distance' is the second volume. Like before, or perhaps like always, we have no clue what it is that Julius does. The title piece was composed (or rather refined) over a six year period and its unclear what Julius does. Is it a bunch of field recordings? Like insects, crickets, cicadas, leaves, or perhaps something more mechanical? Played back from a bunch of CDRs perhaps, or something that creates the sound as they are, like small devices? What is sure that Julius' music is quite minimal. Not in a drone kind of sense, but hyperactive, with lots of sounds crawling like insects over eachother. Maybe there is a bit of sound processing? I really couldn't tell. Like 'Music For The Ears', 'Music For A Distance', which is with forty minutes the main piece here, creates an excellent sonic environment, and that's what Julius aims at. Could we call this ambient? Yes, perhaps we could. Music that fills your surrounding with a intelligent sound, and not some lift muzak, but never loud enough to be disturbing or confronting. There is also a difference between 'Music For The Ears' and this new work (apart from the time separated between recording - the main work here is from 2003-2009) and that's the volume of the music. Both 'Music For A Distance' and 'Music In A Corner' are quite audible, like those loud singing crickets in Japan, which are loud without being a nuisance. An excellent disc, once again! (FdW) Address:


ROTTERDAM - CAMBODIA (CD by Everest Records)
Various surprising things happen here. First of all, why would a Viennese duo call themselves Rotterdam? And how on earth did Susanne Amann (cello, flute, electronics) and Michael Klauser (acoustic guitar, electronics) arrive at such 'strange' music? You would expect from such a line up perhaps modern classical music or improvisation of whatever kind, but straight from the opening sounds of 'Cool Bum Bum - 6:13' you know something else happens here. I didn't inspect the cover or press text very well when I first heard and somehow mistook this for either a weird take on the Pan Sonic genre or some turntablist. The first seems more accurate than the second. Rotterdam play minimal music based on their instruments, which are then looped around in tiny fragments, in a very sequential manner. They link their sounds closely together and make small variations in them. Its quite an interesting take on dance music, without being real dance music. Perhaps a bit like some Pan Sonic, but then entirely build from acoustic samples. Another point of reference would be 'Bek' by Jaap Blonk and Radboud Mens in which the voice is used to create dance music. But whereas that is perhaps even more dance music, Rotterdam stays on the minimalist side of things, so perhaps then more Pan Sonic/Goem, which was also never to be truly out and about techno music. Quite a great CD I must admit, a fresh take on a worn out (?) genre of music, and that could be read as 'techno' but perhaps also 'improvised' music. (FdW)


STRADE TRASPARENTI (CD compilation by Staubgold)
That I know very little about film should be no secret. I could pretend to know a lot, but alas its not. So, I never heard of the director Augusto Contento, and his tetralogy of films set in Brazil. "Strade Trasparenti (transparant roads) is a cinevoyage, a ritual of initiation to the journey, to the discovery of the unknown, the indecipherable and the irreducible. Its to go beyond the logic of one's own national, cultural, perceptive borders', the director writes and if I'm right we see the country from as a bus trip. Five artists play music for this film, The Necks, David Grubbs, Mira Calix, Mute Socialite and O-Type. The Necks open up here with a great, almost thirty (!) minute piece of hypnotic rock structures, very open, mildly jazz like and indeed like a road movie. Grubbs's ten minutes is solo electric guitar, quite desolated, but perhaps a bit too long. A bit longer is the piece by Mira Calix, which also has a bit of jazz like feeling too, but also revolves more about percussive sounds. Here the length of the piece gets a bit in the way of the composition - it sounds like an improvisation that was made seeing the film. Mute Socialite is with five minute by far the shortest artist here, with a nice up-tempo piece of music, but then O-Type looses themselves in twenty-three minutes in improvised jazz like playing. So two tracks are really good, the other three are perhaps so-so, but I should add of course that we lack the moving images here, which might make a world of difference with this music. So I wonder: why didn't Staubgold release the DVD version? (FdW) Address:


Trumpeter Amy Horvey is known for her interpretations of contemporary and baroque music. Some of her work devoted to contemporary music was first released earlier on the CD "Interview" (Malsartes Musiques). Now she knocks again with a new self-released CD on the door: "Catchment". Horvey is from Canada, where she started playing from a young age in a brass band. A similar start as the one for Marco Blaauw, with whom she studied a while in Holland. "At times it is sound as sound and at other times it is sound as metaphor" Horvey explains. I decided to keep this statement in mind while listening to 'Catchment'. But I find it hard to say where sound is sound and where sound is metaphor. Also I cannot grasp in what respect it makes sense to say that sound can be a metaphor. But that doesn't matter, I love to indulge in ideas and in music from musicians who experiment and create unheard music and sounds. And that is certainly what Horvey is doing. She offers 'an exploration of sounds objects and sound events. It brings a range of landscapes and relationships into the private space of the listener.' As is often the case soundexploration go hand in hand with the use of extended techniques, in composed as well as improvised music. The cd opens with a composition by Cassandra Miller, 'This One And That One Side by Side'. A piece that has a cyclic structure. After each cycle Horvey makes a pause and then starts with a new version of more or the less the same line. It is a very poetic and intimate piece. 'Marionette Lazarus' comes from Isak Goldschneider. It is a reworking of a piece that was originally written for trumpet and organ. 'People Deserving Something' is a work by Jeff Morton. It starts with organ prelude, to be followed by a quintet of trumpets. Very fine and nuanced piece. The closing work 'Cranberry Flats Mobile' is a composition by Horvey herself. It focuses on small sounds and short patterns. The pieces on this CD also leave room for environmental sounds and spacial effects. And this way it is also a tribute for Saskatoon, the place where Horvey lives. This is also reflected in the beautiful artwork of this limited independent release. All four pieces have a similar sensibility in common as well poetic and emotional content. (Dolf Mulder)


Back in Vital Weekly 653 I was first, properly that is, introduced to the music of Maarten van der Vleuten, who has been around in the Dutch music scene for some time, mainly section 'dance' music, but that is now put to rest - we all get older, right - in favor of some more experimental form of electronic music. Tonefloat might be perceived as a bit of a hippie/psychedelic label - at least from my seat - and while I know that is not entirely true, Van der Vleuten's album is loosely described as a concept album. Its about such things as crusades and 20th century genocide, and that we sadly have to deal with such things. The studio is his instrument so he says and he puts a lot into this studio. Samples of monks, brass fanfare, synthesizers, voices (his own) and the returning sound of snare drums rolling, like a military march, in various pieces. It makes indeed quite cinematic music, excellently produced. One thing I was less keen on was his use of his own voice - reciting text or attempting to sing, I am not sure which way he sees that. But its a kind of mumbling that just doesn't work very well, I think. Surely it suggests an awful lot, but it would have had more power, I think, when they would  have been properly recited. However its not always present in the music and by and large its instrumental music and that's where the power lies. Atmospheric, drone based, but also psychedelic, shimmering with samples of an original kind. An excellent ride through the dark side of mankind, depicted in likewise dark music. (FdW) Address:


What the deal is here, I am not entirely sure of: an edition of 400, but 'not for sale'. So how would you get it then? I don't know. Also I am not sure which particular idea is behind this. Last time I saw Das and Ninah Pixie they showed me a whole bunch of releases they were working on, enthusiastically telling me about all sorts of projects, and all the various conceptual edges to them. And now, almost 18 months I forgot about them. Maybe 'Cockamame' wasn't mentioned? The floating membership of Big City Orchestra always rotates around Das and lately always also about Pixie, but long serving member Cliff Neighbors is there and special stars Wobbly and Daevid Allen - of former Gong fame. and a whole bunch of others, who get such as credits as 'applied plundering, guitar, voice, processing, tea, cello, violin' and much more. I couldn't find any information on Ubuibi central, so we just go by the music then. Its a rather poppy affair - floating membership means floating musical interesting affairs. Here exotica rhythms are chopped up and used along with glitching electronics, radioplay like voice material, opera singing, plunderphonics ('Sir Paul' is sampled from 'Band On The Run' from Sir Paul when he had wings) and throughout a mild psychedelic sound. Big City Orchestra - or how ever they wish to write it - have a pleasant experimental sound here. Moving into various musical areas in a gentle way. Quite an excellent release at hand here, although 'Viper' is perhaps fifteen minutes too long. (FdW)


The CDR of this underground group from Prague ? Czech Republic starts with a very short vocal song. It is a parody on all these sweet songs you will hear on the radio. Great track!  The four other songs continue this EP with highly delayed voice which is supported by electronic beats, crushes, groovy loops and noisy licks. The music is pulsating and minimal, because of the basic structure of the compositions. The instrumental part of the music has been played and composed in a good manner, with enough repetitions and variations. But after a while the voice with delay starts to irritate me. I think Head in Body has enough creativity to use the voice in more different styles. I am looking forward to the next release of this promising duo. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


LOUD & SAD - WHALE FALL VOLUME ONE (cassette by Digitalis LTD)
A duo here, who call themselves Loud & Sad, Joseph Houpert and Nathan McLaughlin. The latter was recently reviewed with a solo release (see Vital Weekly 760). This is the first official release, and part one of 'The Whale Cycle' and 'it encapsulates death and rebirth, friendship and loss, and frames these ideas using the life cycle of whales'. Two pieces of around twenty minutes. No instruments are mentioned, just as with McLaughlin's solo tape. There are more similarities with that release. The music is calm and meditative, yet also a bit dark, and also from a more low resolution point of view. Indeed, like 'Echolocation' we can hear here traces of Basinski and Asher. But never far away, covered with hiss, this music is always present. Slow moving, and without too much emphasizes on the composition. More improvised like around a set of sounds, creating atmospheres and textures, alike being on a ship on the ocean (or more likely a whale, I assume), floating and bouncing. If Mystery Sea is looking for new names to add to the roster, the spacious aquatic sound of Loud & Sad would be a great new name. (FdW) Address:


Maybe the new trend in magazine making is creating them into books? See the first issue of As Loud As Possible (see Vital Weekly 756) or the Encyclopedia Of Industrial Music, second part reviewed last week. This book by Joeri Bruyninckx is small, more pocket size and deals with interviews from the Belgium underground, 2003-2008, when he interviewed a whole bunch of people. Bruyninckx organized an album of recordings he made in an institution for people with mental handicap and that, along with writing of a music magazine called Storing, brought him into contact with the Belgium's underground, buying their LPs and CDRs at concert and he thus he decided to do interviews with them and collect them in this book, which has about 100 pages. A magazine or a book? Or perhaps something in between. Various names of people and labels were part of Vital Weekly before, such as R.OT., Ignatz, Alkerdeel, Ultra Eczema, but it also includes names I never heard of before, such as Jos Steen, Sylvester Anfang, Bear Bones, Partkdolg or Rivercrest. Maybe a CD/CDR with sound samples would have been a nice idea, as well as some sort of discography for the people included, or a survey of websites to check out them (in case you're too lazy to find out yourself). Well-done interviews, shedding light on a particular kind of Belgium underground (folk noir, improvisation, noise mainly). (FdW)


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