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Vital Weekly 771

img  Tobias Fischer

First of all a small correction: in Vital Weekly 725 I reviewed the first CD by Premonition Factory, the musical project of Sjaak Overgaauw, but I did a spelling mistake in his name (and still got Vital Weekly a mentioning on the cover of the new one). Now he's ready with his second release, 'The Sense Of Time', which continues his trip into ambient land. The booklet shows also a picture of Sjaak behind a keyboard, which is funny, since if I had to guess what it is that he is playing here, I would have guessed it was a guitar and a bunch of sound effects, but then, so, its not. Overgaauw also writes that his music is the process of live playing with the addition of looping devices, rather than using the studio to layer the sounds. His influences are still anything from Brian Eno to Vidna Obmana, the latter which helped Overgaauw in various stages. Its an album that works well along the lines of the previous one and what I said then also counts for this new one. "One could easily argue that Vidna Obmana already made a strong point with that kind of music through an immense catalogue of works, and that Overgaauw not necessarily adds much more to it. That would be negative approach and one could more positively say that since Vidna Obmana is no more, it has found a great successor in Premonition Factory." That's very much the same thing with this new album too. Its great, late night, atmospheric dark ambient music and Premonition Factory does a mighty fine job at creating such music. It maybe needs to be a bit more of his own though. (FdW)


Unseen Worlds is a label with a mission. A mission to bring us CD versions of old and perhaps forgotten records from the world of minimal music. Private pressings from the ancient days. Sometimes with music I never heard of, or even people I never heard of. So I didn't know that Dickie Landry was a founding member of the Philip Glass Ensemble, and that he released two jazz LPs on the Chatham Square label (which he also ran). His 'Fifteen Saxophones' LP however was recorded in 1978 and released by Northern Lights and Wergo (so I guess not entirely obscure). Now I am probably known as someone who doesn't like saxophone music a lot, but certainly in the opening title piece and the flute piece 'Alto Flute Quad Delay', the dense layered minimalism works quite well. Especially in the title piece things are flowing nicely. The saxophones play beyond their sustain, which gives the piece its cascading character. 'Alto Flute Quad Delay' has a more introspective character, almost spooky and haunting. Two really beautiful pieces. I must admit I am less pleased with 'Kitchen Solos' which is a twenty minute live piece of playing saxophone and various delay machines. This too could count as minimalism but it comes from an improvised end of things, and is a bit too free (jazz?) for my taste. An excellent discovery. (FdW)


Dutch artist N–el Wessels has first of all been known under the moniker DJ Hidden. Since the middle of the 90's the composer has launched a number of releases on a large scale of different labels such as Ad Noiseam and Tympanik Audio. As DJ Hidden, N–el Wessels took his starting point in the drum'n'bass-scene with elements of breakcore, darkstep driven by moody atmospheres and upfront basslines. The first album of DJ Hidden was released in 2007 as "The later after" on German label Adnoiseam, an excellent release where the composer's preferences for cinematic atmospheres and melodies were represented. Now fifteen years after his first releases, N–el Wessels moves in other directions with his debut-album under the project-name Semiomime. Divided into three major parts, the album titled "From memory" brings the cinematic sounds of DJ Hidden into the extremes with an album that oozes of atmospheres and great moments of deep listening. Where the DJ Hidden materials first of all is dedicated to the club-like situations, present album is an album asking for concentrated earphone-listening. At the opening, the album is almost exclusively non-rhythmic with ambient expressions that could well be used as some kind of soundtrack due to the orchestral style and dramatic development. As the album progresses rhythmic textures discreetly interferes but never dominates the sound structures. "From memory" is an emotional trip of deep melody and subtle atmospheres, and it will keep the listener glued from beginning to end, again and again and... (Niels Mark) Address:


Wellman is an exponent of the Ottawa music scene. Here he worked with a diversity of bands and projects: Rakestar Arkestra, Mike Essoudry's Mash Potato Mashers, Gamelan Semara Winangun, etc. With Essoudry he released a duo work in 2007 where they mixed improvisation and world music. Now time is ready for a solo effort by Wellman. The cd counts nine pieces that are composed and arranged by Wellman. All have Wellman playing alto saxophone. Explaining the title 'Ephemera' Wellman says in a interview: "The idea of impermanence has always been attractive to me. If I've played a great show, it often feels all the more beautiful if I know that it's gone forever, and that I'll never play in quite the same way again. It reminds me to enjoy the good moments (and not just the musical ones) while they're happening. I realize that it's somewhat ironic that I would call a piece Ephemera and then put it on record, but sometimes we do things that are a bit inconsistent with our ideals.In an ecological sense (at the risk of sounding a bit lofty) there's also the ideal of treading lightly and leaving nothing behind." Sometimes like in track 5, the repetitive and melodic structure brings the minimal music of Philip Glass in mind. In track 3 and others, jazz and free improvisation make up the musical form. Wellman has an incredible technique. Great souplesse, phrasing and change in dynamics. A very expressive communicator and composer/improviser of engaging solo pieces (Dolf Mulder)


A new and very interesting work by Ciciliani, performed by his ensemble Babin Zub: Barbara L¸neburg (electric violin), Michael Blank (electric guitar, fretless bas), Fedor Teunisse (percussion, drum set, pads) and Marko Ciciliani (electronics, keyboards, table-top bass). Terre Thaemlitz was also part of this project, responsible for video and electronics. A few words on Ciciliani. He received his education in New York, Hamburg and The Hague. He wrote for very different settings and his work is performed all over the world. In 2006 he founded Bakin Zub, an ensemble of musicians with very different backgrounds. Well, difference might be a keyword in the universe of Ciciliani. It also characterizes his newest work. Very different ideas, genres and other ingredients make up this new composition. Thematically it is devoted to the image of the Vamp. The four 12-minute pieces are named respectively: 'Vampire', 'Eroticism', 'Cannibalism' and 'Vamp'. Musically spoken it is a very difficult to locate this music. It has the energy of rock, but also the complexity of modern composed music. Flashes of jazz and other idioms occur and disappear in a context that has no clear face. The known is used but not continued in a way that is known from the genres and styles that are cited by Ciciliani. A well-thought eclectic whole that made me chose for a word that I didn't use for a long time: it is a postmodern work. (Dolf Mulder)


What a joy to listen to this one! "This new CD of piano works by Vincent Persichetti offers the only available recordings personally approved by the composer of his substantial Tenth and Eleventh Piano Sonatas. Performed by Persichetti specialist Ellen Burmeister, this long out-of-print reissue also presents the only current recording of the composer's simple but charming Serenade No. 7."  Yes,, from what can be suspected from this quote Persichetti is no longer among us. He was an influential american composer who died in 1987.  He was an accomplished pianoplayer as well, and from what I understand his compositions for piano make up an essential part of his output. For this rerelease the original analog tapes dating from 1974 were cleaned and transferred by engineer David Glasser. Burmeister was a performer who concentrated herself on the work of Persichetti, Roger Sessions and Alan Hovhannes. Absolutely no superfluous rerelease of three piano works by Persichetti: 10th and 11th Piano Sonata, plus Serenade no.7. These romantic works were composed in the 50s and 60s. What is to be enjoyed here is some truly charming and very enjoyable piano in a delicate and dedicated performance by Burmeister. The compositions are not outdated, but sound very fresh and full of sparkling surprises. (Dolf Mulder)


A second release by self-taught composer Voudouris for Pogus, a composer from South africa of Greek birth. Here he presents four new works of an abstract level with cryptic titles, of interest for lovers of true computer generated music. "Voudouris bases his technical and theoretical compositional approach on research of cognitive psycho-acoustic behavioral patterns in humans, and the behavior of sound in relationship to continued environmental changes." Reading the booklet and doing my best to comprehend it, it is clear that Voudouris creativity is channelled through highly theoretic interests and make each composition the result of some kind of research. The opening piece  is "for text to speech synthesis with computer assisted processing for 24 speaker interactive robotic ensemble". A work that like many others is about communication between man and machine. So be it. But what is the statue of this 'interaction' exactly? For me as a listener  it is impossible to detect where and how this interaction is happening.  "4"  is a "singing synthesis for four artificial female voices". The most quiet piece of all four. He works with aspects of voices that sing in greek, spanish, portuguese and italian. Again this is what I got from the liner notes. But it is not possible to hear this. This may be not the aim of Voudouris. 'Onta' is for voice and electronics. This lengthy piece (28 minutes) is also the one I liked most. The music is very open which makes it possible to follow all manoeuvres and see all colors and to enjoy all subtle changes that constantly occur. Here I started to forget about Voudouris experimental interests, and I just enjoyed the Music. That is what I'm aiming it (Dolf Mulder). Address:

A duo of Jonathan Hill and Grant Weston operating as Venona Pers. They exist since 2006, and I believe 'The Past Is A Foreign Country' is their first CD. At their disposal we find a combination of acoustic sounds (guitar, vocals), electronic (keyboards, samples) and computer based processing. The end result is a fine mixture of two ends. The 'easy' guitar playing of post rock, the shoegazing distortion and whatever the laptop does to those two ends makes up the sound of Venona Pers. Themselves they refer to Tim Hecker and Fennesz, which is indeed a clear point of reference, but I wouldn't classify them as pure copyists. They extend their music to shoegazing noise at times, but also downright ambient music in 'Hideaway Beach', with waving synths and pointillist acoustic guitars. It means that these eleven pieces are quite a varied bunch of pieces, which may not always sit together well, i.e. not coherent, but it makes a nice change of the routine for Vital Weekly. Gentle moods swings with more aggressive phases and then glide back to more sweeter ground. Poppy at times, noisy at others. Maybe not the most original ride in music, but surely a great trip anyways. (FdW) Address:


VOICE OF EYE - ANTHOLOGY TWO: 1992-1996 (2CD by Transgredient Records)
Since a few years Texan group Voice Of Eye are back. Their various new releases have been reviewed before. But its the second incarnation of the group, a duo, which existed before from 1989 to 1996. They were pretty active back then too, with lots of releases, like CDs, cassettes, 7"s (for Drone Records among others) and contributions to compilations. Last year Vinyl On Demand already released a double LP of that older stuff, but now Troum's Transgredient label goes out even more, with a double CD of material from 1992 to 1996 (and makes it the first non-Troum release on the label). To say that Voice Of Eye play ambient music is not entirely true. Their music is indeed based on all things 'atmospheric', using an array of drone like sounds, percussion and the heavenly voice of Bonnie McNairm, but what sets Voice Of Eye apart from so many others is their free flowing sound, almost psychedelic, always full of sound effects (the reverb is hard to avoid here), widely meandering about. There is always a rough edge with Voice Of Eye that makes them a bit different from many other drone artists, which is perhaps due to the fact that they use many effects and maybe due to the fact that the recording medium is not the greatest. Also they use various bits of percussion, acoustic objects (one track is entirely made of bicycle wheels). Its great to have this collection of rare CD compilation pieces, 7" vinyl and long unreleased pieces - especially the very free floating space of 'Sonic Works Live Dress Rehearsal'. Two long CDs of highly weightless space music. Excellent stuff. (FdW)


MOSS (CD by 12K)
An one-off group at work here: Moss is Olivia Block (field recordings, tapes, electronics), Molly Berg (clarinet and voice), Steve Roden (lap steel guitar, harmonica, voice) and Stephen Vitiello (guitar, field recordings). It was one of those things that happen spontaneously, at festivals around the world: friends who meet up for that occasion and play together. In this case the O1SJ Biennial in San Jose, where Berg and Vitiello were supposed to play as a duo, but with Block and Roden joining in. The concert was entirely improvised in a church, which perhaps accounts for the cerebral atmosphere. In this twenty four some minute concert the atmosphere is quite free. Lots of field recordings float freely into eachother, while the clarinet has the leading role here. That adds a rare improvised feel to a 12K recording, but it sits well with all the other music that is going on. Gentle introspective music at work here. Recorded at midnight and somehow you can tell that. Light has faded and the nocturnal cries (ghosts? birds? owls?) come alive, all along with a solitary playing of the clarinet. A small treasure. (FdW) Address:

PETER J. WOODS - SONGS FOR NOTHING (LP by After Music Recordings)
After Music Recordings 'is a family run micro record label based in Minneapolis' and we primarily know them from releasing music by the revived Boy Dirt Car. I never heard of Peter J. Woods, I think, who believes that 'has the wonderful ability to speak to both intellect and instinct'. His music is guitar based and pieces usually start with an image, although none are forthcoming with the album. The press text reads about 'scathing, abruptly unapologetic harsh noise', but its not. At least not all the way in and out. There is something of that Boy Dirt Car kind of noise approach here. Yes, its loud, yes, it has some harsh noise, but Woods breaks things up in silence too. Or they start out very low but then start build up in a massive way. More a collage like approach then necessarily something that is just a wall of noise sound. Just as I like it, probably. Taking the best of noise, and then moving it into the land of electro-acoustic, musique concrete and such like to create four movements of intense music, with lots of great dynamics. Energetic, mean, aggressive and with lots of great power. On red vinyl, in an edition of 300 copies. (FdW) Address:


Two releases on the Psych KG label, and its hard sourcing information for them. Irikarah exists since 1994 because he 'was bored listening to other music' and so far has had a whole bunch of releases on labels as Steinklang, Membrum Debile Propaganda, Pac Rec and such like. It might be safe to say we find him at the more industrial side of the musical spectrum. That is shown in the music presented. High piercing synth noise, with cut up from voice material from radio surveillance, advertisements for nuclear shelters and such like. Its the kind of noise that I may not necessarily like, but that's perhaps a matter of opinion. While I think some of the pieces are a bit long for the amount of variation that is on offer, I must also say that I think the production is quite good. No muddy electronics affair, but quite detailed music. Lots of feedback like sounds, a bit of heavy rhythms here and there making that I actually enjoyed this release more than I anticipated. A warm bath of noise. It is possible.
On the same label we also have here a CDR by Jan van den Dobbelsteen, which I guess is a rare thing, as he usually releases his own music on his own Cosmic Volume label. Maybe we should see this collection of eight pieces as things he could fit into his other works (to avoid that negative term 'left-overs'). The oldest piece is from 1997 and the most recent from this year. Its however not that these pieces wouldn't fit together. From the opening title piece with its stuttering electronics, the home concert in China, the anthem of 'JaDaLand', or plain field recording of 'Truckhorns', these all show his love for minimal sound events. In the anthem this is soft, with violins or other stringed objects, or the antenna long wave sounds from space: its not necessarily to have a lot of sound information to keep things interesting, and sometimes things are short as in 'Kort'. Van den Dobbelsteen plays music that is best called 'experimental': exploring sound events for the esthetic qualities and present those events as finished compositions. If you are curious about his work, this particular release is highly recommended as a good place to start. (FdW) Address:


The cover lists all the instruments used in this collaboration, which is always a nice read, but in this case it also lists the amount of each instrument used. So Jason Zeh uses seven cassette players, twenty-two cassettes, one portable head player, five cassettes cases, one knife, one magnet, one screwdriver, one contact microphone, one Behringer mixer and one glass sheet while Blake Edward also uses one glass sheet, but three contact microphones, one Mackie mixer, one PDS 8000 8 second delay, one shortwave radio, one 4MS custom dual noise swash tweaker, one Neuman turntable, eight records (7", 10", 12") and three hand modified records. Its then interesting to see that the recordings were made in three live sessions, which were then 'extracted, edited, reprocessed, modified and assembled'. This could only lead, I guess, to that heavy layered sound that is presented as 'Circulation Decay'. Its meeting of two men with firm roots in the world of 'noise plus', by which I mean that their prime is not to play an unrelentness mass of distorted sound, but that interesting cross road of noise, musique concrete, electro-acoustic sound and drone music (the latter being a more prime interest in Edwards' own Vertonen project). It all operates on a dynamic level. The extended layeredness of the music makes that it is quite full but also that there is always lots happening on all kinds of levels. On top is the big fat drone, but underneath things burst, bubble and crack. They work their way through the material in a dynamic way. Loud blocks are intercepted with 'softer' toned versions, but it never qualifies as ambient music. A fine work, like pretty much everything Edwards does these days or the small catalogue of Zeh (of whom I know a great solo CD and his collaborative effort with Ben Gwilliam). Excellent. (FdW) Address:


(CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)
LIPSIS - SIMPLE PLEASURES (CDR by Minimal Resource Manipulation)
I had never heard of this label before present two discs approached my mailbox. Minimal Resource Manipulation is a British label who has now existed half a decade with the aim of releasing experimental electronic music in CDR formats. I must say that the two albums reviewed here are some inspiring releases that makes me want to hear more from the label. First album is a short one, only running approx. 20 minutes. Never the less this is true gem of trippy electronics. The album carrying the odd title "I used to be scared of the sky" is a collaboration between British composer and label owner Matt Atkins alias Platform and Simon Kobayashi a.k.a.Teruo. The result of the joint venture circulates somewhere in-between ambient, postrock and glitch. The works on the album very much focuses on strummy guitars creating some tense layers of sounds. Trippy atmospheres derived from the manipulated guitar sounds are combined with rich pallets of micro sounds and clicking pulses adding some nice depth to the electronic ambience. Four pieces of sheer beauty!
Next album comes from another British composer. London-based Matt Allcock has released two earlier albums under the project name Lipsis, this being the third shot and the first out on Minimal Resource Manipulation. The two first were recorded on En:Peg Digital, the mp3-exlusive sub-label to idm-label n5MD. Not such a big surprise as you listen to this album titled "Simple pleasures". The nine intersections on this album point towards the IDM-scene thanks to complex rhythm textures moving underneath semi-melodic electronic sound drones. Sometimes the style reminds of early Warp-acts such as Autechre, however "Simple pleasures" certainly lives its very own life thanks to the clever works of Matt Allcock. His ability of controlling rhythmic complexity - at first listen the structures seems random - is absolutely outstanding. Beautiful in a very complex manner. (Niels Mark)


KASPER VAN HOEK - FRANK 5 (CDR by Heilskabaal)
Everything comes to an end, so also the Frank project of musician / artist Kasper van Hoek. Frank is a report of the  music Kasper composed during his studies at the Frank Mohr Institute in Groningen. "Frank 5" is the fifth CDR of this series. On the last CDR we are treated to six tracks, including three solo and with Fever Spoor, Sexton Creeps and Federico, Fausto and Bass. "Aanzet" is a nice slowly introduction with ongoing tones played on an organ. Very quiet and minimal. "Krakend Hoofd" is a collaboration with Fever Spoor. I think this is the most quiet track I ever heart of Fever Spoor. Of course it is not calm, but the music is not a harsh as I know of them before. After this Electronics a excerpt of a recording of  a concert at A7. The track cannot catch me, maybe because the length is too short, because the music is very meditative, but I cannot come into the mood. The untitled track with Sexton Creeps is the most musical one with a ongoing guitars, bass and drums. Just a nice piece of guitar music, nothing more, nothing less. Solubile is more like free-jazz, wild and noisy with a talking and shooting voices. Frank ends with the great noisy "Testloop" and fades away. The sound of the noise is coming up slow and moves into darkness, a fade-away of a nice collection of experiments of this promising musician. (Jan-Kees Helms)

FREIBAND & CARLOS VILLENA (cassette by Mantricum Records)
CORNUCOPIA & CARLOS VILLENA (cassette by Mantricum Records)
THE.BŸND/ZEV & CARLOS VILLENA (cassette by Mantricum Records)
JAN KEES HELMS & CARLOS VILLENA (cassette by Mantricum)
Carlos Villena is an artist in music and graphic design who lives in Spain. He has realized gigs with other worldwide experimental artists, audio / video installations and runs the label Mantricum. He released four split tapes with several musicians all over the world. at 8 december 2009 he recorded the track Hiss and the day after Freiband, one of the projects of Frans de Waard, remixed this composition into Hisspanic. Hiss starts like a storm and Freiband created a blizzard. And so goes it on and on. Both tracks are noisy and intense, but the track of Freiband has more diversity in his soundpalette, because of the use of more low frequency filters I guess. Anyhow... it is always an interesting matter how other musicians inspire each other and deform the base. The other tape is a spilt with Cornucopia. Cornucopia was founded in 1996 in Puerto Rico and consists of Claudio Chea and Jorge Castro. The duo has developed a carefully sonic identity which combines loud en quiet sound and to search for the limits of blissful noise. Trans-Dermal is a drony noise composition with several layers which started dark and sinister. Soon high pitched sounds develop into different kinds of noise. An intense piece of noise. Side B is filled with a noisy track of Carlos Villena, but has a more open atmosphere than the track of Cornucopia. The music is a combination of field-recordings of crickets and added electronic sounds and melodies. Cracked sounds come and go and fade away. Carlos Villena knows how to find melody in abstract noises. The compilation tape with The Band, Z'EV and Carlos Villena has a complete other mood as the tapes mentioned before. The Band from Berlin composed together with Z'EV the composition "The Garden." A strong beat composed by Z'EV at a Yamahe drum machine supports the screaming and singing voice of Alexandra von Bolz'n, who sings like Diamanda Galas. All elements of the female voice have been explored. Fragment King added the bass and synths. The track lasts 18 minutes and for me it is too long to hold the attention of this music. At the other side of the tape Z'EV started with drum and maracas and transforms this rhythms to a rhythmical ritual. The voice of Alexandra von Bolz'n is one of the sound-sources in this beautiful composition. The music is a combination of steady going drums and experiments and improvisations with voice. The tape ends with a ambient track of Carlos Villena, created by highly mixed fieldrecordings. Again a nice piece of music which is a good epilogue of this compilation.
And then the final release is by our own's Jan Kees Helms, who has a split release with labelboss Carlos Villena. I am not sure if this is a split tape, with each having their own track, or if this extends to being a work of some kind of collaborative kind. Each has a piece that lasts ten minutes. Helms' side is set around a few sounds which return every and then. My assumption is that these are field recordings, maybe in a tunnel, outside in the field or something like that. It has an interesting feel to it, due to its loose organization. Sounds drop in, drop out in a rather light setting. Field recordings also play an important role in Villena's piece, which deals with car sounds (mainly in one channel only) and a nasty low end bass sound in the other. It pierces right into your brain. Its a bit too much, but perhaps its the wrong time of the day for that low buzz? (Jan-Kees Helms) (FdW) Address:

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


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