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Vital Weekly 766

img  Tobias Fischer

A new work of Stephan Mathieu is always a delight. If a pile of stuff arrives on one day, and there is a Stephan Mathieu among the lot, you can be sure I will play that one first. For the decade or so that I know his music (and the lovely man himself), I have been rarely, if at all, been disappointed. His work deals with projects, like using radio as a source of music, virginals and now its time to have a look at wax cillinders from the late 1920s and early 1930s, when 'historically informed performances of music from the late Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque era were etched into 78rpm records. Mathieu plays these back on an ancient gramophone and picks up the music from his space and treats it with 'spectral analysis and convolution processes', whatever that means exactly. It something you can think about when you listen to these five long pieces. This could be, something I was thinking about then, be a more likely release on Line than 12K. If you are familiar with his music, then you probably know what to expect: easily the best you can have in the world of drone/ambient music. There isn't a single moment when you think this is music made with the aid of a computer. More like a bunch of analogue synthesizers, recorded to cassette (the hiss in the opening piece 'Schwarzchild Radius'!) and in the process of transfer nothing was done to remove the hiss and static energy of low grade recording means, and that's surely the intention of Mathieu when working with wax cillinders. At first it seems if the music is too gentle, a big cliche of ambient music, but as the album progresses Mathieu adds a lot of depth to it and it works on many levels. The music is gentle, not mistake can be made there, but it can not be lumped in with the new age crowd, although the opening may seem to hint at that. Its more like Eno's first ambient record - to be noticed, to fill an ambience. Excellent.
In April 2010 a 12K showcase played two temples in Japan, bringing labelboss Taylor Deupree, Australia's Solo Andanta and three Japanese acts, Minamo, Sawako & Hofli and Moskitoo. Highlights of these two nights are captured on this disc. Four of the bands, all save Deupree, use quite extensively acoustic instruments, ranging from guitars, glockenspiel and other assorted small percussion, to the voice of Sawako and a whole range of objects which are described in any way. Electronics are of course also part of it, but it seems that its never a lot, more like ornamental than playing big roles in this music. Maybe with Moskitoo's piece things are more in balance, with computer processing of instruments. Field recordings also don't seem to play a too big of a role here, maybe most in the piece by Solo Andata. Deupree's piece is perhaps the only one which seems entirely based on electronics, but with a great warmth and delicacy to it. Each band/project gets about ten to twenty minutes here, which make it possible to get quite clear picture of what these people do in live concert. A fine document. (FdW)


A duo here, of the ever so active Andrea Marutti and Davide Del Col, of whom I may not have heard before, but who also works as O Diabo De Vila Velha and Ornament, as well as plays in group like 30 Seconds Over Teheran and Echran. I am not sure where Molnija Aura fits into his work, but for Marutti I can surely tell. His work seems to me one large take on the notion of ambient music, and all he does, and that is a lot, is finding a multitude of approaches to ambient. It can be very drone based, very quiet, more noisy, a bit more industrial, a bit more on field recordings etc. But whatever it is, he is always working towards that mighty droning piece of music. With Molnija Aura this is not different. They are credited for analogue and digital synthesizers, effects and treatments and they create six lengthy pieces of music. This is in ambient sub-section: spacious, science fiction music (the hand drawn space ship cover and titles give away a lot). Related to the so in-vogue cosmic music, although this was recorded in 2007 already. Great late night, dimly lit room music, or, if the weather is better, a walk at night with this on your headphones (walkman not mp3 of course). Great atmospherics going on here. Having said all things praise, I feel also a bit obliged to say that I didn't hear anything new that would shed light on the current state of said music. Molnija Aura probably don't care, so why should we? Sit back and flow downstream, sky-high. (FdW) Address:

NERNES/SKAGEN - CONFESSION (cassette/LP by Fysisk Format)
From reading the description of how this
collaboration was made I feared the worst. Bjorn Hatterud asked Conrad Schnitzler for some music from his garbage bin, and send two scratched CDRs with banana peels. Subsequently more 'foul smelling envelopes' were exchanged. Hatterud is best known for his solo project Maskinanlegg and membership of the Norwegian Noise Orchestra. That, plus the description, made me think I was going to deal with a work of noise. I am happy to report its not. If anything, for me it updates the non-keyboard electronics of Schnitzler into the 21st century. Lots of analogue synthesizer sounds have been used (and harmed) here, and are fed through a multitude of kaospads to create a wild and vivid, say psychedelic sound. There are ten pieces here, over the course of some forty minutes which also means that they know how to keep their doodling concise to the point and do not leap into lengthy pieces that loose themselves in chaos. There is chaos at times, but never too much, never too long. There is mild distortion, such as in the fifth part, but also moments that quieter and subdued. An excellent album of bouncing, non-rhythmic electronics.
Very retro of course to release your album on vinyl and cassette, but as I received the latter, I can say that looks pretty professional too. Nernes/Skagen's debut album 'Ad Undas' was reviewed in Vital Weekly 694. A duo of Nernes Nernes who plays guitar, while Skagen plays synthesis, analogue, filters and advanced sound constructions. Side A of this new work has three parts and was recorded using the particle generator in the University of Oslo, used to manipulate their instruments with liquid nitrogen and superconductors. No such information was forthcoming on the b-side of the record. Still, design wise it would not be something I would touch - the metal look is just not my cup of tea - and that's a pity. The music again a fine combination of influences, mainly for the guitar side of things, from the heavy metal music, but when things are toned down, and there is space appearing in the music, things become highly interesting. Lots of carefully build tension appears in the pieces, such as in 'Jura II' and electronics are carefully styled, a bass slowly strummed and one waits for a giant beast to enter your room. Of course that beast doesn't arrive, but at times things burst out in a great way. Excellently orchestrated nightmares. A pity about the form but the content is more than great. (FdW) Address:


I expected a lot of noise coming out of my speakers, but I was happily surprised. I like noise, the anger and force of sounds. But this was something completely different. The sounds of Harshcore are based on analogue and poor electronics, bass, effects and tapeloops and consists of Luca Sigurta (tapes, electronics and junk) and Tommaso Clerico (voice, trumpet, loop, synth and fieldrecordings). In 2007 they released their debut album The Sybian Sonority and after this soloalbum the duo released since 2007 many split-cd's and cassettes, with groups like To Live and Shave in L.A and  xNOBBQx. T. For this album Harshcore searches and finds collaboration with many other groups/musicians and that makes the album really interesting. The styles are different, from harsh techno to looped voices, from wicked rap to minimalistic electronic music or drony sounds. The track with Zeek Sheck is like free-jazz and the song with Madame P is really a surprise. A beautiful singing woman-voice highly inspired by Bjork and I mean this as a compliment. The artwork of the cover is made by Madeleine Boyne with a surrealistic phantastic attitude and that is exactly where this album is about. To create a weird phantastic world with a lot of space of freedom and exchange. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


STUART SWEENEY - 16:9 (CD by Oomff)
'A one man analogue orchestra producing a soundtrack that needs no film', is how Oomff promotes this debut album by Stuart Sweeney from Northampton. Apparently he uses 'hand-welded percussion, without an audible drum' and a computer. But somewhere else in the press text there is also mentioning of 'countless hours exploring the English countryside surrounding his home and the sounds to be found, and more importantly recorded, therein', which suggests the use of field recordings. Whatever it is, I think it involves a great deal of computer treatments, so that both percussion (non-rhythmic I should add) and field recordings melt in a fine way. Partly rooted in electronic music, the ambient section of course, there is also elements of contemporary classical music to be spotted in here. 'Ascension' has a Vangelis like choir, but at its more soaring moments, one could easily think of Arvo Part in stead. Indeed like a soundtrack to a movie, although its hard to say which kind of movie would use a soundtrack like this. Sweeney rather shows he's capable of presenting music that could be used by any movie, rather then settling on a specific kind of music. There is sweetness, suspension, dreamy soundscapes, and such like, but more difficult to set a great slasher movie or animals from outer space. As such Sweeney has a perfect introduction into the world of Hollywood. (FdW)


Two great designed boxes for Belgium's Metaphon label, which once again delve the archives for some historically important music. The first one is a double CD recorded in 1970 by Michael Ranta, who plays here percussion, guitars and prepared thunder sheet, Mike Lewis on keyboards and Conny Plank on live electronics, sound recording and recording. This meeting was the last between the three, late December 1970, as all three were going in different directions. They recorded four pieces on magnetic tape, as a matter of improvisation and did straight after that a mix down. One piece, 'Mu III' was used in 1982 by Ranta for an extended performance, the other three pieces are presented as they were mixed in 1970. Ranta is a classically trained percussion player, who worked with Stockhausen among others, Lewis studied with Jozef Dvorak and Plank is of course best known as the man who recorded the first Kluster albums, but also Killing Joke, Ultravox and Eurythmics, and who sadly died in 1987. Historically important music, surely. Excellent improvised music, totally free, but not wild or jazz like. Its more like being part of some kind of sound ritual, with great obscured sounds. Apart from the third part which has more obvious percussion parts by Ranta, the other pieces are more like clouds of sound, slow rumbling dark thunder that pass over your head. The earth is boiling, bubbling, slowly peacefully (deceivingly of course), like an earthquake to happen anytime soon. An excellent release.
Metaphon released previously a boxset by Baudouin Oosterlynck, a forgotten Belgium composer, now they do it again with one Arsene Souffriau, first generation electronic composer from Belgium, but not as well-known as Henri Pousseur, Karel Goeyvaerts or Leo Kupper. l never heard of him before. His first compositions date from 1943 but in 1963 his music appeared on record. He composed music for film in his own studio, Bimes, and teaches. Very much an outsider, mainly because he was only known for his film music and not his personal work. Various pieces on this triple CD comes with a lengthy explanation in the booklet; its a pity not all of them, but perhaps there is not always something to say, I guess. Souffriau's music is not purely electronic, but often a combination of electronics and real instruments. Not always this is a great success, since Souffriau doesn't compose along strict lines. On the second disc we find such pieces like 'Mutations' for choir, two piano's and three percussion players, which seemed more like an attempt than a well-defined composition. Things worked best, at least for me when it was purely electronic, such as in 'Imaginaires Irisees' or 'Attente' (both on the third disc), which is dark venture into the world of soundscapes. The first disc concentrated on the early pieces of more pure electronic work as well as an electro-acoustic composition, which were a bit cruder but very nice all around. Not the same as with the re-discovery a decade ago of the recently deceased Roland Kayn, but surely an interesting archival find.
Both releases releases appear in linen boxes, with extensive liner notes in English, French, German (only the Ranta box) and Dutch and are available on LP too. High quality releases, the best around. (FdW) Address:

MARKUS REUTER - TODMORDEN 513 (CD by Hyperfunction).
New music from Centrozoon member Markus Reuter, and so far I have no been a big fan of that band, but the various things that I heard from him solo or in combination with Tim Motzer or Robert Rich were quite alright. For this new solo work he receives help from Rich as well as a whole bunch of others. 'Morden', you could know, is a town in Northeast England (remember 'The New Blockaders - Live At Morden Tower'?) and 513 refers to the construction of the piece: 'a continuos movement and sequence of five hundred and thirteen harmonies and triads generated by a combinatorial compositional technique of Reuter's own design' , which is further explained on the cover, but is perhaps a bit over my head. The piece is played a whole bunch of players of violins, cello, recorders, electronics, guitars, synthesizers, organ and glockenspiel, the majority of these by Reuter himself. Its an hour long piece of modern classical music, and of a very peaceful nature. Sounds glide by like small boats on summer's day. The acoustic instruments mingle excellently with the electronic sounds. At various points its not easy to the difference and that seems to me is a fine thing. Very ambient music, throughout here, with in the sixth' piece some more upfront, louder sounds of a mildly distorted guitar. The music moves back and forth, like being trapped in a system of its own and it could last for one hour, but you could also put this on repeat for a whole evening and it would still be a great, if not somewhat sweet, work. Relaxing music. Chill out. (FdW) Address:

(2LP by Resistance des Materiaux)
After I penned a few lines about the return of the long lost cut-up artist Aphasia, I read the press text for this double LP and realized we are talking different Aphasia's here. This one is from France, and started out in 1997, playing 'energetic hardcore beats', with one sampler and one synth. These days Aphasia goes by his real name Nicolas Leal, according to the press text, but on the cover it says 'all traxx by Jean Ferraille'. The music is not made with samplers we are told but in the 'old acousmatic process' and the result is quite noise based. The hardcore gabber element of before is gone, but the music is still quite loud. Lots of metal percussion is banged around here, with some ways to process the sound, through electronics, but also tape-manipulation. I am not sure if all the sounds are played by Leal, as the opening piece 'Tableau D'Une Exposition' sounds like a cut-up version of 'Compulsion', Test Department's first 12". Test Dept, Neubauten or SPK - to mention the three best known metal bashers - are all a major influence here, and all from their most experimental phases. Forget any of their disco music, take their roots and explore those again, that is what Leal does. He also probably had Merzbow's 'SCUM' 2LP in mind when he started to cut those tape up. Although I am not sure if four sides is really necessary, this is quite good. A fine line between hardcore rhythm (without any real consecutive beats), musique concrete montage techniques and industrial noise. Certainly one that leaves no room for a single breath of air (maybe that's why four sides isn't such a good idea?). Leal does a great job at producing some utterly tiring music - the pleasure of being tired when its finished. (FdW) Address:


Back in Vital Weekly 730 I was pleasantly surprised by the work of Seahawks, a sample heavy group of musicians with a great love for the big history novel of popmusic. The previous lot sounded like seventies disco, but this new one is a bit more mellow, less disco/rhythm, more ambient and unmistakably sunshine music - much needed in the dark grey days of this season. Spacious trippy music, with lotsa guitars, endless delay, hissy analogue synthesizers. I have said in the past few months something about the return of ambient house, and found myself playing yesterday morning The Heavenly Music Corporation as part of an attempt to get over a hangover, and now I am playing Seahawks - no hangover to get rid of - and I am thinking of the Corporation again, and also of the more spacey music by The Orb. Is there going to be such a return? Are we fed up with the cosmic music resurrection and we want it to have some more rhythm, and we are arrive at ambient house again? Who knows (or who cares about such labels, come to think of it), but Seahawks definitely play some great music from the era and they do a great job. Not a lot of voice samples here (unlike The Orb), but the sources are the same: cosmic music, psychedelics, dub, west coast guitars and radiophonic voices. Very pleasant music that works utterly relaxing (except for the part where you have to flip this excellently designed picture disc over), with or without the use of any chemicals. Oh summer, were are'thou? (FdW) Address:


MAGNETIC STRIPPER - EXTENDED PLAY-R (7" by Suitcase Recordings)
Eric Blevins was once known as All Fours, and also running the Suitcase Recordings label, and returned after a long hiatus in 2008. In 1982 he started along with one Jim Ellis Absolute Ceiling, until 1984 and since 1996 the two work again, but now as Magnetic Stripper. Another fourteen years later sees the first release by this duo, a 7" with four tracks on Blevins' own imprint. They seem to be stuck in old industrial music, armed with a few synthesizers and a rhythm machine. Think a bit of Esplendor Geometrico in the earliest days, crude formed electronic music with voices which are hard to decipher. I must admit I quite liked this, but then so I did with the old Esplendor Geometrico sound. The overall music and design: its all very much a product from the past but then presently made. A fine one. (FdW)


Silence Philosopher is the 100th release of Anima Mal Nata. The man behind this label is Marcel Herms, who always releases his music on his own label as a split with another musician/group or project. The artwork has a standard lay-out with the wild drawings of Herms himself. The title "Silence Philosopher" pretends to be a silent album, quiet and layed back. But that will be impossible with the noiseists of the first hour. Since 1979 The Haters break and smash all kinds of material on stage and record these eruptions and release it all over the world. The contact between these three noise-musicians; the Haters, Not Half (Al Conroy) and Fever Spoor (Marcel Herms) has a long history. Since the tape network in the eighties they exchange material and compose their walls of sound. "Kettleday 2010" is a recording of the Haters and is meditative because of a ever lasting tone which continues all the way round. Lots of other noises are coming up and down and come back again. It is created by amplified grinding and sanding. Great blasting noise as we known from the Haters. not half and Fever Spoor have collaborated many times. "Purging the Thief's Presence?"has more variation. Al Conroy composed the basic track and Herms added his own sounds to this track. Looped sounds, feedback tones and other trash build up to a climax and than they slow down and trash again the sounds full in the face. This release is a culmination of the brutal releases of Marcel Herms. What will be the next step in his arts when Herms philosophes in silence after this earblasting CDR? (Jan-Kees Helms)


Hazard Records is based in Barcelona and started as a CDR label in 1998. Their goal was to offer music for a cheap price. For now they publish music of all gernes on the internet as free download. The attitude of the label has a high DIY standard. Coolola Monster is based in Bilbao, Spain and formed by Estranis Comella, Miguel A. Garcia, Oier I.A. and Jorge Nunez and they make noise without any structure. That is not really a problem. Their own created noises are okay, not special or spectaculair, but just noise with a lot of feed-back and wicked voices. Some tracks are mixed with sampled music of metal bands or classical music. The samples are too clear for me. And it becomes more worse when the musicians starts to yell with these metal licks. I do not know, maybe Coolola Monster was in a happy crazy mood or something when they recorded this album, but it is not my cup of tea. Joan Bages I Rubi is a catalan sound artist whow lives in Paris and released about 30 CDs/DVDs since 1998. He studied music at several academies and won also some prices. But he doesn't live in an academic ivory tower. He releases his music at several independent labels. In the album Deconstruccio Instrumental he combines flute, fagot, cello and Electronics and he does it really in a nice way. It is like free-jazz, improvisation and electro-acoustic music with an academic attitude. But still it has a wide range of sounds and spheres. He plays the instruments with a good technic, but also with his heart. The electronic sounds improve and complete the acoustic sound and sometimes it is a complete mess and chaos with many tones, accords and bleeps. The most thrilling piece is "Le Tailleur de Temps dans l'Interzone" with electronics  of File  Under Toner. This track was released at Hazard Records 61. The cracking sounds of a pick-up player and album combined with a fagot played in a thoughtful way makes this album high recommended for lovers of free-music and experiment. (Jan-Kees Helms)

Besides organizing concerts in home-town Heerlen, Mike Kramer also records music. Recently we had his release for a John Cage event, and now a piece of work that is entirely built from field recordings made in July and August last year in the south part of Norway. In this work we hear the emptiness of the land, water sounds, an occasional car passing, some cows and birds, and the travel through this land by train and bus. This is quite an interesting piece of work in that it starts out quite 'ordinary': we recognize all the sounds crisp and clear (after turning up the volume a bit, I must say). But after the fifteen minute break, the piece takes a different road and its heavily processed, or maybe recorded entirely differently - I don't know - but here you have to turn down the volume a bit, since it would shred your speakers to bits. A very fine transition here. An excellent, twenty-five minute soundscape that would fit perfectly on say the Gruenrekorder label. (FdW) Address: <>


Omaggio a Lucio Fontana of the Italian sound-artist and bass-player Andres Borgi is the third release of the label Reductive Music from Spain. The label is specialized in experiments with sound. The artwork is great of this small piece of sound-art. A transparent cover in a small dvd-case with nice fonts and minimal lay-out. The music is a documentation of a interactive sound installation for modified turntable. The vinyl is treated with glue and dusted materials and edited with a computer. The installation was a tribute to the Italian abstract artist Lucio Fontana. The 3"CDR consists five short tracks with cracking sounds of the vinyl. Lots of musicians have done this before, but Borgi makes the abstract dusty sounds of vinyl more abstract than possible. The sounds are coming up and down. In a harsh way or very softly and kind, like drops of water passing by after a rainy day. A great release of abstract music! (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


CHAPELS/STAPLERFAHRER (cassette by Dim Records)
A split release with from the US Chapels and from the Netherlands Staplerfahrer, released by the label of the latter. I don't think I heard the music of Chapels before. Its a bit of strange music here. Far away, drenched with sound effects, there is, perhaps, music. Voices, organ, field recordings? I am not sure. But whatever I thought, it sounds pretty much alright. Lo-fidelity soundscapes, relatively easy and cheaply made perhaps, but it works pretty well. Staplerfahrer on the other side has a great piece, which starts out with low humming pulses, that over the course of twenty-five minutes builds up in a strong, drone like manner. A very dynamic piece, even when some of the dynamics are lost in the translation to the medium of cassette, but somehow I think this is an intentional thing from Staplerfahrer. Nice one. (FdW)


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

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