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Vital Weekly 772

img  Tobias Fischer

Back in Vital Weekly 582 I first encountered the music of Kraig Grady. It was an amazing CD, compared by with the best of Alvin Lucier, Phill Niblock, Ingram Marshall. Since then there have been more releases, in which Grady explores his own tuning system. I do believe he is a writer of scores which are performed by other musicians, but then maybe I am wrong. Two lengthy pieces here on 'Our Rainy Season/Nuilagi'. The first is performed by Jim Denley (bass flute, alto sax and wooden flute) and Mike Majkowski (upright bass), while the second deals with metallophones played by Erin Barnes, Jonathan Marmor and Graidy himself. As said its not easy to figure how Grady works. In 'Our Rainy Season', Denley and Majkowski were asked to improvise on single notes with extreme pitch accuracy. I assume Grady then took these recordings to the computer and collate a piece of music out of it (or perhaps I am entirely wrong, and this is them playing together without much editing - the cover is not entirely clear about this). Its an almost fifty minutes piece of music which has all that great things that I like in music: long sustaining, acoustic sounds, which at times sound like sine waves, and making beautiful tonal drifts. 'Nuilagi' is about half that length (and perhaps you could wonder if that first piece isn't enough for one CD) and 'celebrates the coming of the rainy season after the relentless dry season that precedes it' and has a likewise beautiful touch to it. It reminded me of Indonesian music (Grady already produced a LP for Ini.itu, whose aim is to deal with Indonesian music in new contexts). Ringing overtones, slowing down, fading out, but then, curiously returning in a full force, perhaps even a bit louder, and then the process of decay starts again. Two excellent pieces of modern classical music with a strong exotic touch. No longer the big surprise, but a fine continuation of what Grady has already planted. (FdW) Address:


Behind the oddly named A Dancing Beggar is one twenty-three year old James Simmons. I never heard of him, and despite his young age, this is already his second full length album. From what I gather from the information, he comes from the post-rock background: this album is mixed and mastered by Ludovic Morin, who worked for Sigur Ros, Fleet Foxes and Beirut and Simons already played live alongside Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai) and Epic45. Guitars are also a primary interest, it seems, for Simmons. He recorded his album at home, surrounding by a bunch of effect pedals/stomp boxes, his guitar, but also a bit of piano, field recordings and even vocals. In this opening 'Creeping Into Dusk', the listener is transported back to the shoegazedaze, staring downwards while Simmons mumbles his lyrics. It kind of sets the tone for the album. The seven lengthy pieces are all of similar introspective layered guitars, bits of piano and lots of the chorus pedal. Shoegazing meets ambient meets post rock. I thought it was a pretty fine album, although perhaps the musical genre is not entirely my cup of tea. Its just occasionally listening to Sigur Ros or Mogwai: always nice, but never for too long. That can be said of Simmons work too. These forty some minutes are quite nice, but then the inward staring is already enough. I am not too familiar with all the ins and outs of this kind of music to judge if A Dancing Beggar is the most original voice in this corner of the music world, but I must say it all sounds pretty good. (FdW) Address:


The word 'avant-songtress' is new for me, but its what Stina, hailing from Perth is, and 'Summers In Mariana' is her second album, recorded over a two year period, at home. Now that word 'avant-songtress' may imply that she sings, but largely this is an instrumental album of music played on a variety of keyboards. There is organ like sounds, harmonium, piano, a bit of rhythm, and perhaps a wee-bit of computer processing, though not a lot I think - its released by Room40's pop spin-off label Someone Good, so you know it has to do with popmusic, one way or the other. Instrumental popmusic in this case, or as Someone Good calls this particular release 'contemporary chamber music'. But perhaps that has also to do with the fact that the songs were created in different rooms of her house - which is quite a literal way of calling it chamber music. Melodic music, but always with a nice rough edge, an odd loop of some kind, or some rough edged recording quality, which adds a bit of spice to the music. Melodic and melancholic, but always with a summer-like feel to it: its warm in the shade kind of music. An excellent release for the early spring season, waiting for that first summer heat. (FdW) Address:


The name Bill stands for the B of Clive Bell (who played wind instruments with Jah Wobble, David Sylvian, Jeff Beck, Bill Laswell), the I of Hans Joachim Irmler (Faust), the L of Robert Lippok (of To Rococo Rot fame) and the other L is Jaki Liebezeit, best known as the drummer of Can. Quite a supergroup line-up, me thinks. They went into the Faust studio for one week as part of a project called 'Spielwiese Scheer' to work on an album. They only played together once at the Faust festival Klangbad. A drummer, a wind instrument player and two persons responsible for all things with keyboards. The music sounds partly improvised, based loosely around the drumming of Liebezeit. In one track, 'The Thrower' a sequencer driven backdrop provides that everybody can improvise loosely, but its the weakest track here. When things are shorter, they are also more coherent, such as in 'Lovely Ending', with a spooky bass riff, electronically treated flutes and far away electronics. Or the joyful opening of 'Glassbamboo', the filmic, eastern sounding 'Under Water' (although perhaps a bit long) and the ambient atmospheres of 'Das Boot'. Six of the seven pieces are very nice, offering a variety of moods and styles and is executed with some great care. And all of that in the matter of one week. (FdW) Address:


Like Mark Northrup reviewed elsewhere, Andrew Weathers is also from Greensboro, North Carolina. His first CD, 'A Great Southern City', was reviewed in Vital Weekly 720. Back then it was all inspired by Greg Davis, Peter Broderick and Machinefabriek. He must have had various other releases in the meantime, as the press text says he has four solo releases, before releasing , as the Andrew Weathers Ensemble. Himself he takes credit for playing guitars, banjo, organ, percussion, voice and electronics, and then there is a whole bunch of people playing saxophone, vice, flute, guitar, violin, harmonica an clarinet. Membership is flexible for this group. The music sounds like it sounded before, moody and introspective, but it also sounds expanded, richer and fuller. 'Go Lightning' starts out with an organ drone, but slowly more and more instruments are added, where the banjo and voice play an almost folk-like tune, but then with a time clocking in at close to eight minutes. Just as easily there are bits where electronics are more extensively used, blending nicely with the instruments. Throughout the ensemble plays minimal music, with not a lot of variations inside a piece, but they explore their material quite well. Again the references stand as before, but also the recent move for 12K records. Perhaps its not a coincidence that one of the tracks here is called 'Seaworthy'? An excellent release of great textures. (FdW)


Two split releases, and both involving label owner Kazuya Ishigami. The first one is 'just' a split release, containing three of his pieces and three by one Kentaro Takei. His three pieces are collisions in the world of pure electro-acoustic sound and electronic music. The acoustic sounds, of which it is hard to decipher where they come from, but are best described as rumbling of contact microphones meet up with sparse sine wave like electronics. Sparseness seem to be his goal, but he is just a bit too sparse to be fully interesting for the amount of time his three pieces take up here. Of more interest, also about half the length, are the pieces by Ishigami, whose work is entirely created in the world of computer processing. He composed for INA-GRM, so that may explain this a bit. From the various releases I heard from him, this trio of piece is certainly one of the more interesting ones. Avoiding the usual trap of tumbling sounds and glissandi, his pieces are quite concentrated affairs of closely knit sound files working along and against eachother. Easily his most interesting work to date.
The other split release is with a female composer called Tamaki Katsufuji. She also worked at INA-GRM. Both use here spoken word by Kenichi Higashino, who is a scroll painter and story teller, telling what we see. Not an easy job if you haven't mastered the Japanese language. That is a bit of a problem with this release, since the voice is pretty much upfront and present in this release. And since we don't know what these stories are about, its hard to see how they relate to the music. Is the music supportive, contradictory? Hard to say, but I think its more supportive of the story, rather than working against what is told. Quite an amount of acoustic objects and bits of computer processing. What I thought was good was there isn't much difference in approach and execution by both composers. Now that could be a problem if it was 'just' a split disc, but here the connection, the voice of Higashino, makes the whole thing into an unified whole complete release. (FdW) Address:

Prayers heard! In my previous review of the 'Acoustic Solo Percussion' 7" series by Christian Wolfarth, I remarked it would be good to have all four 7"s on a CD. That may happen later this year, along with a disc of remixes. Still without edits, overdubs or electronics, this is exactly what it is: acoustic solo percussion. 'Cabin No.9' is a piece for… for what exactly? Cymbals crashing into eachother, played with kitchen utensils? It sounds like it. A wildly vivid piece of music. The b-side has 'Well Educated Society' which is a frighten piece of music of bowes bending cymbals in a crashing way, ending on a beautiful resonating tone, almost early Organum like. An excellent conclusion to a great series. Bring on that CD! (FdW) Address:


Music of the members  of the Spanish improvising ensemble consisting of Coeval (Juan Carlos Binacos), Miquel A. Garcia and Miguel Prado have been reviewed several times at Vital. " Tirasse" is a 21 minutes long piece which is released at the Spanish label Ephre Imprint. The mix between fieldrecordings, electronics and guitar is a great combination and the music develops really slow. In slow-motion sounds of nature and soft electronic sounds melt together and carefully played guitarstrings complete the sound. In one moment a harsh bleep disturbs the quiet atmosphere and the trio started to play louder and with more harsh sounds. But still they do not get wild and the quietness and control is tangible. The tracks ends as it started, just some ongoing sounds, calm and with tension. A great electro-acoustic piece of music. Same length, but with a totally different approximation of sound is the piece of Nigel Samways. This English sound artist takes the listener to a dreamy world on his third release at Ephre Imprint. "Nine Barrow Down"  starts with a beautiful voice saying/singing something surrounded by mysterious wide dark sounds. This piece of music is coming back several times at the E.P. Music has been played on acoustic and electronic instruments with a lot of echo and reverb. It seemed that two pieces of music vary each other and in this variations the music becomes more and more sinister. This sinister mood fits really well by the cover which shows us a green field with a white form like a human-being which is moving on the grass, but also is integrated with the blades of grass. The music have connections with reality, but the combination, editing and setting of the tones, rhythm and sounds makes as if the music is created somewhere down in the earth with some holes to the sky. Highly recommended piece of experimental work. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:

Its always great to see a band perform that I first heard only on CDR, such as Small Things On Sundays. A week or so I saw the duo of Henrik Bagner and Claus Poulsen play their drone music on two laptops, and some acoustic objects, such as an acoustic guitar. Perhaps the presentation was so so, and a bit too heavy on the reverb, but otherwise it seemed to translate the music I heard on CDR quite well. I got this new release handed from the band members that night and playing it reminds me their concert. Small Things On Sundays are a drone based band, who play six fairly long drone like pieces, adding a bit too much reverb at times to their sounds - especially when field recordings are added - but who play the dark atmospheric card quite well. 'Pioneers' has a fine fairground feel, stale arctic wind like sounds and a nordic feel to it. In their previous works they added slowed down vinyl, but I am not sure if that is still the case. There was a time when we used to call this kind of music ambient industrial, and I still think that is best term to used for this kind of music. Ambient in its spaciousness, and industrial in all its bleak, darkness - nocturnal waste land music. Quite nice. (FdW) Address:


Vetvei label is a label from Yaroslavl/Russia and run by Ilchuk Sergey, who is also the man behind Vresnit. The label is specialized in magic orientated music. The  artwork of the label  is of high quality, created by multi-layered images presented at a six-panel full-colored envelopes. The art is a mix between digital technics, photography and paint-art. It has a high magical character. Ogni Videniy is a duo consisting of Petr Abysov and Alexandr Chulkov. Spring 2009 they recorded they CDR Tajushie, what stands for "Melting". Petr Abysov plays singing bowls, bells, wind chimes and uses his voice. Alexandr Chulkov recorded and mixed these Buddist sounds and subtile he changes these ancient sounds with some effects. Field-recordings of the sea, water and other undefinable sounds are added. The combination of these elements is well-chosen and balanced. A great CDR for people who wants to meditate in an adventurous way. Vresnit released already more albums on Vetvei and Seed Solar is the sixth release on his own label. For this CDR he cooperated with Kshatriy, Hladna and Neznamo and they created four tracks. Seed Solar is more experimental and has a deeper mood than Tajushie. The intensity is stronger, because of the whipping beats and ever floating flutes or the singing of mantras. The album develops into more and more industrial mood, becomes more abstract and multi-layered. No easy-listening ambient, but great music for people who likes drones with a mystic character. In november 2010 Lunar Abyss Deus Organum, Hattifnatter, Neznamo, Kshatriy and Vresnit performed in the Experimental Sound Gallery ESG-21 Club in St. Petersburg. During this performance there were no separate concerts, but the musicians played together. Field recordings, voices, guitars, synthesizers, wind instruments and electronics. This album is the answer to the perestroika for more softness and attention for the combination of nature and culture in Russia. All the musicians are connected during this performance and the quality of this improvisation is high. The sextet created beautiful soundscapes to dream away in meditative moods. Vetvei is a interesting label, especially for lovers of music which is related to drones, psychedelica, meditation and other rituals. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


MUENNICH - RUGGED (cassette by Fragment Factory)
REPETITION/DISTRACT (casette by Weevil Neighbourhood)
A short tape, around twenty minutes, by one Michael Mennich, of whom I never heard. The two parts of 'Rugged' were recorded directly to tape, as it says on the cover, and there is no mentioning of any soundsources. The label's website mentions this: "Embracing drones and traces of rust, far-off hissy sounds, ongoing crackling and feedback serenades. Peeled-off roughcast. There's horses appearing on the B-side", which I guess doesn't make things clearer. On the a-side things build up slowly, around some kind of drone based background and the rumbling of contact microphones on top. Quite a nice piece. Part two is more noise based, with a loop of galloping horses - or so I assume - along a cascade of feedback like sounds - and its probably a little less effective than the more spaced out first part. Throughout however a nice release.
In the recent, second, volume of the Encyclopedia of Noise, released by Impulsy Stetoskopu, we find an entry for Ellende. We learn its an anonymous musical project, led by one Wim Bontjes (who died in 1995), an author whose work is the basis of sound material. Musicians from all over the world deliver their sounds to the project and mixed together by the other three members from The Netherlands. Some of their music has been reviewed before. This cassette, also released by Impulsy Stetoskopu, contains two live recordings, one from 2008 (in Pieterburen, The Netherlands) and one from 2009 (New York). No members are mentioned here, but both pieces were created with 'various analogue instruments'. Both were picked up using a microphone, rather than a line recording, which adds a more raw edge to the end result. Probably its fair to say that we are dealing here with a rough form of cosmic music. Lots of synthesizer buzz around, sweep, oscillate and bubble and create fine, dense waves of cosmic music. Effectively it may seem that both concerts sound alike, which made me think that the same musicians are at play here, even when the 2008 concert is a bit more louder. I have no idea which literally references are in play here, but the title is great!
More popmusic can be found on the cassette by one Adderall Canyonly, who is from Portland, Oregon. During two years he worked on a bunch of analog synthesizers and drum machines to create the untitled pieces on his cassette. Lots of bouncing rhythms, vocoder like voices and disco riffs on his synthesizers. It has a very retro 80s feel to it, and by that I mean from the underground. Whereas we may reminder lots of noise on cassette from those days, there was of course also these guys with one or two synths and a drum machine creating their own synthi pop tunes. Raw in execution, not really dance floor friendly, spacious and occasionally out of control. That's exactly the kind of sound Adderall Canyonly is after and he succeeds pretty well. Welcome to the underground disco party, wearing your 80s costume. Not every track is a hit, but played with sheer fun and energy.
Following three 12"s, 'The Weevil Series', it now time for The Weevil Neighbourhood. Releases will be limited and it deals with the idea of 'topology ('neighbourhood') with places, scenes, actors etc. instead of a linear development'. I believe various musicians are part of this ongoing project, and according to the cover, here its one Felix Hoeck, who plays music as Repetition/Distract. Its a curious lo-fi rumble of sorts. Hard to decipher what exactly it is though. An amalgam of loops of daily sounds, all rendered beyond recognition, I assume, with bits of electronics thrown in. Its a pity that the music is somewhat clouded, muffled or hidden away in the low-affair recording. With some extended equalization it would certainly reveal more, unless of course its the intention of the composer to do it exactly this way - its hard to tell. Certainly a free-flow improvised stab at musique concrete, and at that, quite nice indeed. (FdW)
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