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Vital Weekly 768

img  Tobias Fischer

REVENANT - ZELTINI (CD by Unfathomless)
An ongoing project with open membership, that is what Revenant is about. On their second (?) CD, we find John Grzinich again, but with four new members, Maksims Shentelevs, Eamon Sprod, Kaspars Kalninsh and Felicity Mangan. The five of them went to Zeltini, a former Soviet army base in Latvia and they looked for some stuff to create music with, as this is another angle of Revenant. Find material on the site, and play that as it were instruments, using the space as its concert space or studio. Again we are not told how this was recorded or edited, but for about fifty plus minutes we hear these five persons moving through the bunker space, toying around with the various objects they found in this space, like glass, stones and metal. This is done in a musical manner, through means of improvisation. Not a random scattering of debris, but listening and interacting with each other and creating music with non-musical objects. There are overtones to be found here, which are hard to place (wind? somebody blowing a pipe?), which add a nice textural tone to the proceedings. Maybe like the previous one, this is the natural element that is being used here. I am not entirely sure. The only reference I could think of is the recent work of Jeph Jerman - closely miked acoustic objects being played, but then in the large resonating bunker in Latvia. Not the most easy listening one around, but surely some great music has been captured here. (FdW)
Address: http://www.unfathomless.net


MONTY ADKINS - FRAGILE.FLICKER.FRAGMENT (CD by Audiobulb Records)
Although around since 1994, I never heard of Monty Adkins, whose previous album 'Five Panels' was nominated 'album of the year' by Qwartz Awards and then licensed to some car company (how do you pull that off, I wondered). Adkins has worked in a number of genres, but in recent years went more and more towards the minimal and introspective kind of music. The title sums up the music quite well, I think. Its fragile music that flickers away and in which fragments are used to create a fine whole unity of a composition. This is ambient music of a modern nature. Open, spacious, computerized, but based on acoustic sources. The opening 'Memory Box' deals with the sound of music box and in other pieces we hear guitars or violins (merely guessing actually). Sometimes a piece doesn't give anything away of the original source material and it seems to exist in a mere digital environment. Its hardly music that we haven't heard before, mainly on the 12K label - to mention one very obvious point of reference. That said, what is original anyway, and should we care? Perhaps we shouldn't and just go by the music. Adkins does a great job at what he does and perhaps that's all that should matter. Nine fine pieces of abstract ambient music. Nine pieces of computerized warmth. That's all that matters. Maybe Adkins should consider to make it all a bit more of his own though. His skills seem to be up for it. (FdW)
Address: http://www.audiobulb.com

 

PARHELION - MIDNIGHT SUN (CD by Cyclic Law)
THOLEN - NEUROPOL (CD by Cyclic Law)
From Canada we get the debut album by Parhelion,
of whom no other information is forthcoming. Canada, an immense, empty country and parts covered by a vast amount of snow. That is the inspiration for the music of Parhelion. At his (her?) disposal we find a bunch of guitars, synthesizers and environmental sounds and Parhelion has been going for a few years to gather the know-how to produce this music. The twelve tracks that span a good hour of music of a highly atmospheric nature. Glacial like, obviously, this is well produced dark ambient music with a small touch of light lurking over the horizon - out there. Maybe one would have expected some all 'light' music, but its midnight sun - almost dark, almost night but never quite so, really. Instruments and field recordings blend together in a great way, melting together (to stay with the ice references). The overall production of this music is great. Very dark, but emotional, intense and beautiful.
Tholen is a part of The Netherlands but probably not the inspiration to call a band after. 'Neuropol' is the follow-up to debut 'Sternklang' and is something of a concept album about a city called 'Neuropol'. On one side we have the slaves and the elite underground. The text on the cover can not be easily read, I must admit. Here too we deal with something that is dark and atmospheric, yet of a different, more unsettling kind. A beautiful unsettling kind that is. Sometimes melodic, sometimes quite out there in drone land, but always with audible, menacing treat lurking around the corner. The secret police or gigantic beast? Something along those lines. Utter dark ambient music - there is no differentiation between slaves and underground elite it seems. The music doesn't transport a story as such, but rather a more open idea of what live in 'Neuropol' is, and that is hardly a beautiful one. The music is very evocative and beautiful, don't get me wrong, but to live in a city of no-light? I don't think. Scary music that fits a great horror movie. Two excellent dark, haunting trips. (FdW)
Address: http://www.cycliclaw.com

 

DUANE PITRE - ORIGIN (CD by Rootstrata)
The work of Duane Pitre has been reviewed before, and it has been released on both CDR, CD and LP (see Vital Weekly 581, 605 and 687). Especially the format of CDR may seem a bit odd, since Pitre is more or less a serious composer, who scores from string/wind ensembles, quintets and solo performers. For his new work 'Origin' he works with his ensemble of 'bowed harmonic guitars'. Seven electric guitars to be precise, and they are played with bows and the tuning is according to the 'harmonic series', also known as 'just intonation'. Pitre places himself in the tradition of Jimi Hendricks, Pete Townsend, Glenn Branca, Elliot Sharp and perhaps also Phill Niblock (although not mentioned). That might give you a clue where this music leads you: drone music. Five moments are to be found here (previously released as a LP, but after that is sold out, now on CD) of beautiful, endless sustaining guitar tones, swelling, rising, disappearing, swelling, rising etc - ad infinitum. The whole thing doesn't sound like a static mass of sound, but when listened to closely you hear the bowes gently moving over the strings, majestically, loud but gentle. Like a giant mass of singing raga tunes. A highly refined work and surely bringing something new to the guitar table, which sets him aside from his inspirations. Excellent. (FdW)
Address: http://www.rootstrata.com

 

AIDAN BAKER - LOST IN A RAT MAZE (CD by Consouling)
Over the last years Aidan Baker has proven to be highly prolific, which resulted in a large catalogue of releases, of which many are solo, but also with his bands Nadja, Arc and Whisper Room. It also brought him some fame, so that his recent releases are on CD and LP only. To be honest, I didn't keep up with all of his releases, only dipping in when it lands on my desk. Consouling, a label from Belgium, tells us that this is an unconventional album in such a way that its not the massive layers of guitar sounds and effects, seemingly waving on end, but in stead its a more compact sound and somewhat shorter pieces, eight in the timespan of fifty some minutes. Baker plays electric & acoustic guitars, electronic drums (provided by Richard Baker), vocals, piano, flute and tapeloops. The music is still highly atmospheric, as one could expect from Baker of course, but somehow it all seems a bit more opener, with 'more air' as it where. Instruments fly in and out, sometimes held together with the tick of drums, sometimes stuck in a loop of unknown kind, with the guitar(s) neatly tinkling away. Surely still a matter of improvising freely around a small set of themes, but Baker doesn't explore them ad infinitum, and rather just for a few minutes. Nicely spacious head music. A new form of old psychedelic music. Trippy. (FdW)
Address: http://consouling.be/

 

MONOMONO - ADSR (CD by Firework Edition)
If you know a little bit about synthesizers than you probably know that ADSR stands for Attack Decay Sustain Release - key components to alter sounds on the synthesizer. Its also the name of the four pieces on this CD by Lars Carlsson (music) and Fredrik Nyberg (author). Together they play music as MonoMono since 2003 and they probably best described as 'text/sound composers' - in that rich Swedish tradition, although they have a certain type of noise based music which reminded me Henri Chopin, certainly in the opening piece, but than again: its called 'Attack'. Its not the entire line of the CD however. Its not easy to describe what it is. Partly improvised, it seems, on a keyboard/synthesizer, a whole bunch of sound effects to process both those keyboards as well as the voice. That is worked out in four different pieces, following, perhaps that is, the idea of decay, sustain etc. In 'Decay' the voice is has various types of processing, picked up in the room and transmitted again, in 'Sustain' there is some sustaining organ like sounds and in 'Release'… well, that's perhaps the hardest one to say anything that is dealing with 'release' in musical terms. The voice of Ulrike Meinhof is on 'Sustain', and I wondered: shouldn't it be on 'Release'? The poetry part of this is not something for me to discuss, as I am unfortunately not that literate. Quite a mixed bag this release, which seems to grow every time I hear it. Quite nice, although I find it hard to pinpoint why. (FdW) Address: http://www.fireworkeditionrecords.com

 

3OFMILLIONS - ABSTRUCTION (CD by Rufus Records)
Quite shortly after 3ofmillions were founded they released a CD 'Immediate' (see Vital Weekly 653, which was preceded by a CDR on Hellosquare Recordings - Vital Weekly 633) but then it took quite some time to do the second, but its here, and its called 'Abstruction'. A trio of Adrian Klumpes (piano, rhodes, piano book), Abel Cross (acoustic bass guitar) and Finn Ryan (drum set), who all share a background in improvised music from downunder - and if you need such a thing: all a bit in the corner we could call 'jazz'. Now I'm sure you are well aware, I leave all things remotely jazz to Dolf Mulder (while thinking: why do people send all things jazz to us?). There is still a jazz element to this new music, but its not just that. The distortion sometimes applied to the guitar makes it psychedelic and krautrock like. The electric piano waves around in a spacious mood and the drums roll on (the recording of that could have been a bit better I think - less far away). An interesting new work, which perhaps not sees a change of sound, but I think it deepens the sound of what they are doing. As said before, there a links to Viennese bands such as Radian, and I wish they would expand a bit more on that in the future, and maybe a bit less on the (free-) jazz aspect of it all, but curiously enough I thought this was a most enjoyable disc. (FdW)
Address: http://www.rufusrecords.com.au

 

ANDREA BELFI & IGNAZ SCHICK - THE MYTH OF PERSISTENCE OF VISION REVISITED (CD by Zarek)
IGNAZ SCHICK & DAWID SZCZESNY - LIVE IN GENEVA (CD by Zarek)
Its been a while since last reviewing any music by Ignaz Schick or his Zarek label, but that's doesn't mean that he wasn't active, as these two duo discs proof. Schick is an improviser, so playing concerts is perhaps more his trick of the trade than releasing CDs. Both of these discs were created as part of improvising, but the one with Andrea Belfi was done over the course of a week of playing together, while the one with Szczesny was done in concert. Schick plays on both turntable, objects, gongs, bows, looper/pitcher and percussion. With Belfi he has been playing concerts since 2008, in which Belfi plays drums, percussion, gongs, nord modulator, looper and feedback. Its a meeting of two ends of the improvising spectrum. In the left corner is Schick who loves things to be drone like, electro-acoustic and who is never shy of a bit of a noise, whereas in the right corner we find the sparse playing of Belfi which is a curious mixture of (post-) rock, minimalism and ambience. It works quite well, I must say. Belfi lays down his 'easy going' playing, adding perhaps the more 'melodic aspect' of the playing, while Schick provides with stretched out tonalities in which Belfi's playing seem to float around, as in weightless space. A fine collision of interests: Belfi's sparse drumming versus Schick's love of drone like textures and electro-acoustic adventures. A highly controlled disc of some great interaction.
As said, Schick uses the same set up in his concert with Dawid Szczesny, who plays 'laptop & software'. Together they already released a CD on Non Visual Objects, 'The View Underneath' (see Vital Weekly 599). This duo also played various concerts over the years. The Geneva recording was made in 2008 , and mixed a year later, although the press text suggest there wasn't done a lot after that 'no after editing, overdubs or cuts were applied - the material was solely mixed and mastered & track indexes were added'. If the duo with Belfi is a meeting of two minds that aren't alike, it seems here that we have two minds who are more alike. Like on their previous release, they operate from a more drone like, microsound like world. Hissy sounds, cracks, but also the rotating cymbals on Schick's player, played with a bow to add overtones to the whole. At times the playing is very close, so that's hard to decipher who does what here (if such a notion is at all necessary). Apparently Szczesny uses 'jazz' samples, but whatever he has done to harm them, I don't recognize any jazz in here. However, just like the Belfi disc this is a particular strong one, although it sounds entirely different. Very much close together, this mass of hissing, cracking and rotating sound, like a swarm of insects surrounding the listener who sits next to a ventilator in some tropical village. Excellent stuff, once more. (FdW) Address: http://www.zangimusic.de


ILLUSION OF SAFETY - BRIDGES INTACT (CD by Waystyx)
ILLUSION OF SAFETY - BUSIER THAN HAPPIER (cassette by Digitalis Industries)
Its is hardly a secret: since about twenty-five years I am a big fan of Illusion Of Safety, following them since their cassette releases, through vinyl, CDs and now, oddly perhaps, cassettes again. But there are still CDs, such as the lovely packed 'Bridges Intact' on Russia's Waystyx Records, who certainly have a reputation to keep up in the packaging department. It surely beats me why the website seems to be in Russian only, perhaps its some conceptual stance? Illusion Of Safety's core member is Dan(iel) Burke since the start, but has included fifteen other people, of which Jim O'Rourke is no doubt the best known one. Here, on this new CD, old member Thymme Jones appears on three tracks as well as guitar player Ben Vida on one. Musically Illusion Of Safety can be all over the place, although the most recent work is usually quite a bit based in the realms of improvised music. That is evident on 'Bridges Intact'. The pieces recorded with Jones show this love of improvisation, with duets for guitar and piano, as well as a fine mixture of acoustic and synthetic sounds. At first one might think this is all an improvised record, but when the third piece, 'Special Passing', kicks in we know we arrived in the field of music we know and love Illusion Of Safety for: a delicate combination of musique concrete, electro-acoustics, improvisations for instruments, ambient passages, field recordings and electronic music. All put together in a great way. Sometimes all in one piece, and sometimes one piece is just one thing, such as the ambient crackling of static charges in 'Forgotten Baggage', with bits of field recordings at the start. Again an excellent release by one of the greatest talents for this kind of music. This isn't as high up on my list of favorites as say 'Probe', but its not far away.
For the cassette Burke, solo this time, delves into the vaults of more 'noise' based material, although its not exactly the sort of noise one associates with the word 'noise'. No feedback walls or distortion, but it could very well be that Burke looked for the oldest equipment he could find, a cheap 2-bit sampler perhaps to work on some more abstract sound material, based on radio sounds being sampled and looped around, all with that low resolution quality. The music here is a crude assemblage of musique concrete techniques mixed with the lowest form of technology - at least: that is what it sounds like. Totally different than 'Bridges Intact', this is a side of Illusion Of Safety that we haven't heard in quite some time, harking back to the earliest days of the band. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why Burke choose to release this on cassette and not on CD-R? Quite an abstract release, with seven pieces of low grade musique concrete. Very nice. (FdW)
Address: http://waystyx.com/
Address: http://www.digitalisindustries.com

 

WEST HEAD PROJECT - A CLOSELY WOVEN FABRIK (CD by Split Records)
BLIP - CALIBRATED (CD by Split Records)
JIM DENLEY - FIRST CONTACT (CDR by Split Records)
The common factor in all of these three releases is Jim Denley, who not only plays music on all three of them, but also is responsible for the release on his own Split Records label. The first one is by West Head Project, a quartet of players. Denley plays bamboo and czech school flutes, balloons and alto saxophone, Monika Brooks plays accordion, Dale Garfinkel prepared trumpet, tree roots and automated sonic contraptions and Anthony Magen is responsible for the recording. Now normally that wouldn't count as a member of the band, but in this case it is. West Head Project is named after a park with the same name in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (all down under), where they started playing on location. So you see, he who records it outdoors becomes a vital player in how the end result sounds. The audience is taken for a walk in the park and the band plays at various locationsThree pieces here of which 'Roots' and 'Glade' are fairly traditional pieces of improvised, albeit recorded outdoors, of both instrument playing and exploration. Sonic action from the location makes it a bit different, instruments imitating birds and probably birds responding. Actually quite nice, these two pieces. The third piece, the opening 'Spruces' is however the best piece of the three (and with twenty minutes also the longest). Here Gorfinkel has his 'automated sonic contraptions' suspended into trees and whatever they are, they sound great along side Brooks' accordion, and bird calls, sea side sounds and sustaining flute/saxophone sounds. A highly atmospheric piece of music of sustaining beauty, in which field recordings and improvisation meet up in a great way.
The age difference between Mike Majkowski and Jim Denley is twenty-six years. They started Blip in 2008. Majkowski plays double bass, pitch pies and objects, while Denley takes the credit for alto saxophone, bass flute, dismantled bass flute, prepared flute, Czech school flute, bamboo flute and balloons. On August 24, 2010 they recorded 'Calibrated' with four microphones in one afternoon, and the three pieces only needed three edits and are presented in the same order as they were recorded. I have no idea what pitch pipes are, nor which objects are used, but the end result is a great thing. Highly vibrant improvised music, in which they explore the sonic terrain of their instruments, both as how they would normally be played, but also in more unorthodox ways of playing: the instrument as a possible to device to play music. As said, the music is very vibrant, ranging from beautiful introspective playing to passages in which they sound incredible noisy and loud, but then go back to something more musical without any problem. Even better, as a whole than the West Head Project.
The final release is a solo release by Denley, actually a re-release from a work produced in 2002. The pieces here were recorded for three different programs made for ABC Radio about 'experimentations in wind playing and ways of recordings'. To that end Denley worked together with an engineer named John Jacobs (didn't he do music himself in the early 80s? Perhaps I am mistaken), using every microphone in the building, but also attaching contact microphones to Denley's body, while playing. This leads to some interesting pieces of saxophone playing - sometimes with the saxophone almost disappearing in whatever else it is that is going, such as the feedback of 'Fed' or the added percussive sounds of 'Isochronus'. It may require some specialist knowledge of how microphones work and which variety exists in that field to enjoy the full quality of this disc. If you aren't that qualified, as I am actually, it may seem that this is a disc of some heavy free saxophone playing. That isn't bad in itself of course, but I must admit not always that much of my liking. I prefer his work with other, it seems, based on this trio of releases. (FdW) Address: http://www.spltrec.com

 

NIEUWE ELECTRONISCHE WAAR 6.0 (CD by Esc Rec)
When 'NEW' started it stood for Nijmeegse Electronische Waar, that is electronic stuff from Nijmegen, now, in its sixth incarnation it stands for Nieuwe Electronische Waar, new electronic stuff, not longer confined to the beautiful city of Nijmegen but all electronic music from the Eastern parts of The Netherlands, say the province of Gelderland. Originally a bunch of Nijmegen labels working together, now its more like a competition. "upload your tracks which will be rated by Rik Publik and an experienced jury will decide who is going to be on the CD". Apparently the concept of X Factor/Idols/Popstars can be used anywhere. I guess I wasn't made for these times. I never heard of any of these eleven artists, which perhaps means I hopelessly out of touch with the electronic scene, but then I was never part of the scene of DJs, house or techno or clublike otherwise. Its hard to say wether any of these 'will make it'. I liked the minimalism of Detache, but it didn't strike me as very original. I am, I must admit, not too well informed about the world of dance music to say any of these are true originals, or in what subsection they fit - dressing up old styles with a bit more bass, suddenly becomes an exciting new genre it sometimes seems, but of course its all a marketing ploy. That said, the eleven pieces (by Radion Ft. John Jacob Niles, Sonurber, Detache, Grimm Limbo, Kuhlmannmensink, Sam A La Bamalot, Hide And Scream, Oshunmare, EML, AddictedWhiteGuy and De Sluwe Vos) were quite entertaining in home consumption. I don't know how well it would translate to dance floor, but since I don't frequently visit such floors, I should not care about it too much. As said: well entertaining, without many surprises. (FdW) Address: http://www.escrec.com

 

S.B.O.T.H.I. (CD by Klanggalerie)
NON TOXIQUE LOST - CHRRROOOOOOM! (CD by Klanggalerie)
KOUDE GOLVEN (LP/2CD by Onderstroom Records)
DE BRASSERS - 1979-1982  (2LP by Onderstroom Records)
SIGLO XX  (LP by Onderstroom Records)
THE INSANELY HAPPY EP (7" by EE Tapes)
None of this stuff was send as a promo, but purchased or traded, so there is so immediate need to 'review' them, but I'd like to share my thoughts on them. What is the common denominator here is that they are all music from the past. The first one could have been reviewed regularly in Vital Weekly, as a re-issue that is. Its the first LP by Swimming Behavior Of The Human Infant, also known as Achim Wollscheid. His first LP is from 1985, when he was toying around with a Yamaha CS15, a digital delay and a reel to reel machine. The music is an extension of his xerox work: copy something, re-copy it, re-copy the re-copy etc, and this translated to sound. Still these are pretty strong collages of sound: noisy, crackling, looped around, broken up and cut into pieces. Not an extensive, coherent composition, but more like a collection of glued together smaller pieces - just as his xerox work. For this re-master, Wollscheid choose to cut all three pieces together into a great forty minute blast from the past and not to 'de crackle' the vinyl used for mastering (master tape is of course lost), but leave the crackles of the vinyl. Its a record about noise anyway. It sounds great and never disturbing.
Wollscheid appeared on stage last year when joining Gerd Neumann in a rare concert of Non Toxique Lost, another one of those lost German bands. Back in the day it was one of those things I found on compilations, but never heard on their own. Their music was already re-issued on the excellent Vinyl On Demand label, but now on Klanggalerie too. 'Chrrroooooom!' is not a specific re-issue of an old release, but rather a selection ('best of'?) of pieces from six different tapes. This is more 'pop' music than say, well, S.B.O.T.H.I. Non Toxique Lost owes more to Throbbing Gristle than to Pierre Schaeffer if you get my drift: lots of rhythm machines, piercing synthesizers, sequenced loops, obscure vocal bits and all such like, making it very much indeed something like Throbbing Gristle in their best days. Quite a coherent collection, which makes you want to search blogosphere for me. Nice stuff, a small revelation.
More unlike Vital Weekly are the trio of releases of Belgium. I am not sure why, but if you by 'Koude Golven' (means 'cold waves') on LP you get the same material, plus lots more on a double CD for free, or was it vice versa? No way, in this re-issue niche, vinyl counts. I didn't play the LP, but when straight to the CD. The only bands I remember from the days are De Brassers, Siglo XX, Struggler and Cultural Decay, but we find some other Belgium (they are all from that lovely small country with no government) bands from the same period - 1979-1984. Everything and everybody is depressed, no jobs, nuclear treats hanging over our heads, but luckily we can play music without caring if we can play our instruments really well. Let's start a band and try and be like Joy Division. Siglo XX and De Brassers are by the far the best known ones here - as we will see - but Soviet War, The N.U.E., Gruppenbild, Company Of State, Suspects and Day After proof to be likewise good copyists of Joy Division and the whole Martin Hannett sound, although less refined and defined as the work of the magician from Manchester. But still music straight from the heart.
On LP two re-issues of cassettes I actually used to have: the untitled live tape by Siglo XX and 'Levend' by De Brassers, the latter with some new, archival pieces. I lost or sold those tapes years ago, but upon hearing this I immediately recognized almost every song. Does anyone still have that? Maybe it was because without too much money and no downloads we were limited in our teens to listen and listening again to the few records we had. Both bands are clearly imitators of Joy Division, where Siglo XX is the most strict follower and De Brassers are a bit more free. Jamming about around a few fixed themes, sometimes with that menacing synthesizer, at other times more punk like, but also psychedelic, slow such as in their best known song 'En Toen Was Er Niets Meer'. Lots of suppressed aggression here. I read on the insert that De Brassers always played 'Shadowplay' by Joy Division in their concerts, but it must be their best kept secret: its not on here and nowhere to be found. Maybe for a future archival release? If buying LPs is a bit too much I strongly recommend their CD 'Besprokkeld & Bespoten', which can be had from the band directly.
The last one is actually a regular promotional copy, but it fits for various reasons in this lot. One of those reasons being that the five bands captured on this 7" have been around as long as all of the above, and that they are recently enjoying a revival, which started with the 5LP set released by Vinyl On Demand (see Vital Weekly 668), but credit is due to EE Tapes, which already released a CD by Human Flesh (see Vital Weekly 523). Insane Music from Belgium was a label with one guy playing in many different bands (Pseudo Code, Human Flesh, Bene Gesserit), Alain Neffe, as well as some solo projects (I Scream - which oddly enough never saw much re-issue; odd, since it would fit the current trend of cosmic music). On this 7" we also find Subject, Neffe plus Daniel Malempre, his most 'commercial' project. The only outsider to work solo on Insane Music was M.A.L., Malempre that is. His piece here was recorded in 1987, the rest between 1981 and 1986 and only two were previously released. The six pieces seem to have been selected for their pop like qualities - 'we'll show 'm we can do it', which also counts for Pseudo Code who present their first version of 'Could It Be A Hit?'. Human Flesh are called Human Dance for the occasion - another clue for you all - and alike M.A.L. and Subject the most poppy tunes of the six. The two Bene Gesserit songs are also less improvised than some of the other material and more coherent in terms of popmusic. Altogether quite melodic this six-pack and while not bringing it to the top 10, this really fits any current electro-retro trend quite nicely. An excellent found from the vaults. (FdW)
Address: http://klanggalerie.com/
Address: http://www.onderstroomrecords.net/shop/
Address: http://debrassers.be/

 

PINK DESERT - RECORDED BY FRIENDS AT THREE SPEEDS (CDR by Striate Cortex)
VIBRAFUZZ - THE ONENESS OF VIBRAFUZZ (CDR by Striate Cortex)
Following a steady flow of releases, there was a hiatus for Striate Cortex, but now they are back, with something that we expect for them, and a small surprise. To start with the first, Pink Desert are from Pennsylvania and released most of their music on cassette. The cover doesn't tell us anything about the band or the instruments they used, although two of the seven tracks are live cuts. My best guess is that Pink Desert uses a bunch of analogue synthesizers and sound effects to lay down their atmospheric music, at which they actually succeed well. Moody, dark, introspective, but with a somewhat sharp edge. Maybe its nothing that wasn't heard before but Pink Desert do a very fine job at creating their drone inspired music. There is not much more to say about it. Its grey afternoon listening music, and that is a positive thing. It doesn't stand out, nor does it let down.
The small surprise is so much the music as well as the fact that its on a somewhat experimental label such as Striate Cortex. Vibrafuzz are a three piece band from Bristol and this is their debut release. It 'is based upon a 70's LP vinyl LP and was inspired by the writings of Julian Cope's Krautrock/Japrock samplers', I am told, and the cover reveals its an Ash Ra Temple album. They read about one track per side and when they heard the album after recorded their own two times twenty minutes it turned out Ash Ra Temple sounded differently. Nice story and surely gives you a pretty good clue as to where to place Vibrafuzz on the musical map. Krautrock it is. All three members get credits for guitars, while Tim Newman also gets credit for 'all the rest'. This brings back those endless guitar doodling of such bands as Acid Mothers Temple and every space rock band before that. But I must admit that I quite enjoyed this particular one. Vibrafuzz also uses a bit of electronics, more than seems usual (allowed?) in this kinds of music, and that adds a gentle, even more flowing aspect to the music. More cosmic than kraut at times, but I am the first to admit those differences are quite small. Striate Cortex has been playing this over and over since they got and its easy to understand why: it has a great drive, through endless guitar solos, banging drum machines, swirling spacious synths. Two times twenty minutes, but as easily it could have been two times forty and it would still be equally great. Excellent music to do some hyperactive stuff along: cleaning the dishes for instance and air guitar along. (FdW) Address: http://www.striatecortex.co.uk

 

BRUNO MOREIGNE - DROP COLLISIONS NEAR 45 47 12N/2 02 07 E (3"CDR by Kaon)
This is the first release by Bruno Moreigne based on river recordings made by label boss Cedric Peyronnet. Moreigne other releases for Kaon also dealt with field recordings, so I more or less expected a collage of sound based on river recordings. That is not the case. Moreigne seems to be fully devoted here to computer processing. I have no idea what it is that he uses in the first part, but this could be Florian Hecker dealing with field recordings. Totally great work, since it sounds so different than much others in this series. Some parts of the other three tracks seem to merely pushing away frequencies through equalization, but the computer type of processing returns every now and then. This release comes, I must say, as a total surprise. Not only because Moreigne does something that is unlike him or the work we know from him, but also because it stands out in the 'river' series that Kaon released so far. Quite harsh at times, but then also ranging, in the third piece, to something that is alike drones and ambient, and has barely any reference to the original source material. An excellent one! (FdW) Address: http://www.kaon.org

 

ORPHAX - DIE HELDEN SIND NICHT MEHR (3"CDR, private)
Already a recording from six years ago, to the day: Sietse van Erve, also known as Oprhax, played on February 15th 2005 a concert at Theater Kikker (Utrecht, The Netherlands) and edited this in November last year. I am not sure why this is done, but surely Van Erve is quite fond of this recording. The title is a quote from the movie 'Himmel Uber Berlin', a favorite from Van Erve (and not seen by me). He also uses samples from the film. The music here is less drone based than his more recent work - as far as I can judge - and uses rhythms and big washes of synthesized sounds at the beginning. The piece is in two parts and both have a rhythm to it, in the second even a stripped down technoid one. Say, its all a bit more melodic than abstract, but it carries throughout that Orphax stamp on it: densely layered sound, dynamic and with sounds put all over the sound spectrum (perhaps also thanks to the mastering job by Jos Smolders) - deep bass end, cracklings at the high end, synths in the middle. Very nice, and sadly only eighteen minutes. As far as I was concerned this could have lasted longer. (FdW) Address: http://www.orphax.com


KAMTCHATKA - NATURE OF SONOGRAPHIC FEATURES (cassette by Cicuit Torcat Records)
Kamtchatka is a part of Siberia, I know from the very times I played the game of Risk, and I remember because I found it a cool name (probably a cool place too). Its also the name of a duo of Pau Torres and Alfredo Costa Monteiro. The latter has been reviewed before in Vital Weekly and plays accordion, electric guitar, turntable, electro-acoustic devices and resonant objects. He creates installations and plays in various groups, all more or less based on improvisation. Torres was born in Spain, but now lives in Toronto, plays guitar and trumpet and works mainly as a sound designer. Kamtchatka don't play together as such, but exchange sound files through mail and on this forty-five minute cassette they have two side long pieces of music. Its not very clear who does what here, or what they actually use, sound wise. The most likely thing is that these works are a culmination of whatever it is they are doing in music, but then utterly transformed and layered beyond any recognition. What is it then? Curiously, but perhaps the closest it is, is drone music. An amorphous mass of sound of rotating sounds (the turntable?), low end humming and such like, but it all sounds quite captivating. The crudest and lowest form of drone music, without sounding very noise based. Maybe something got lost in translating this to cassette, but if so, then it was probably all intentional. Very nice. (FdW) Address: http://www.circuittorcat.com

 

OVER (cassette by No Visible Scars)
MAZAKON TACTICS - ADORABLE ATROCITIES (cassette by No Visible Scars)
The first of these two releases is very obscure. According the No Visible Scars website the release by Over is by a supporter/customer of the label. Fifteen minutes of music/spoken word, although its hard to say what's about, but according to the website (again), its ""confessions". 15 minutes of emotional outburst, detailed intimate "family" sexual encounters, self hate etc". Now he's over it and behind it. Well, alright then, so are we. I couldn't say I particularly enjoyed it, but it wasn't bad either. Highly obscure, from every possible angle: that's for sure.
Sascha Mandler is behind Mazakon Tactics and he uses electronics, stringed instruments, metals, lyrics and vocals. Mandler is apparently also from Namazu Dantai, whom I don't know. The music is that of power electronics, but doesn't always sound that harsh or loud per se. Voice seem to be an important ingredient for Sascha and there is definite cold atmosphere about these pieces, clinical and reminded me of the early of Anenzephalia. You expect any moment some doctors voice coming in to tell you about the patient's condition, who is lying in his bed, coughing. Pleasant is a word that hardly applies to this, but in terms of 'noise', not being super loud, or just distorted, but actually well balanced, ear damaging low end bass sound and a crash of metal/voice makes this a nicely affair. After all, nice. (FdW)
Address: http://nvslabel.blogspot.com/

 

WAND AND PRINCESS - FUNERAL FLOWERS (cassette by Soundholes)
A twenty minute tape from tis duo from Greece of whom we reviewed stuff before. They dwell on obscurity I guess, with lo-fi covers and lo-fi music. Lo-fi in that sense that we don't know how this music is made, recorded with low means but with an overall nice impact. 'Ice' on side one seems to be recorded with a bunch of cymbals being played with bows, all at the same time, along with perhaps a bunch of delay pedals. That gives us a somewhat crude and atmospheric sound, ringing aloud in the world of overtones. 'Fauda 2' is on the b-side and its a crashing event of distorted sound - of the wall of noise type of thing, but actually this one is pretty good, I think. It certainly has, at nine minutes, the right length. (FdW) Address: http://sndhls.com/

 

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

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