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Vital Weekly 775

img  Tobias Fischer

At their peak I met Faith No More. They came walking into our little shop were introduced as 'a rockband', and we kindly asked where they would be playing that night, mentioning the well-known Amsterdam places. 'Oh, no, we play Rotterdam, in support of Guns 'n Roses'. That was in 1992. When later somebody mentioned that I should meet Mike Patton, I had no clue who he was. Still wasn't a Faith No More fan, but both incidents got me thinking: maybe these guys like their music, other than on world stages, to be experimental? Bill Gould was a founding member of Faith No More and he here teams up with Jared Blum, whom I don't know, but who is apparently 'a conceptual sound artist, best known for his abstract pop under the moniker Blanketship'. I usually have a pretty strong opinion on stuff like this, like 'why do fancy rich popstars care about this, as its obviously they don't have a clue' (no names in particular here), but this album is actually pretty strong. Not every track is a winner, like the long and uncontrolled 'Notes From The Field', which is pretty chaotic with drones, guitar improvisations, rhythm machines, and in general I thought when the guitars were used to play something that sounded like a guitar, it was of least interest. When the guitar sounded like anything else it was all the more interesting. It becomes the generator of drones through feedback in 'Maxim', or in the short psychedelic drones of 'Open Your Eyes'. This is not a case of superstars jamming about, as is often the case (again, no names are forthcoming), but a carefully constructed album of guitar based music, which occasionally slips away, but is most of the time on top of things. I should investigate more, I know. This is a learning curve. (FdW)


There is nothing to celebrate, no fifty years of electronic music in The Netherlands or something like that, but a book on the history of electronic music in this country is overdue, I would say. Since the book is in Dutch I would urge to read on, as you may have a synopsis (and cringe over the fact that its not in English). Journalist Jacqueline Oskamp describes the very early electronic studios, the legendary names (Jan Boerman, Dick Raaijmakers) and the developments in this small country. Anarchy is a keyword. Whereas in France, Italy and Germany the studios were state sponsored affairs, here it was small and private. The first studio being in practice was the NatLab, owned by Philips, and where Varese worked on his 'Poeme Electronique'. Later on more studios came, like CEM (housed these days at Worm in Rotterdam), Steim and various at the conservatories, the one in The Hague being the best known. The book is divided in six chapters, each about a development and each with a portrait of someone that stands out in that particular development. Electronic music with acoustic instruments by Ton Bruynel, the pure tape music of Jan Boerman, the conceptual approach of Dick Raaijmakers, live electronics with Michel Waisvisz, sound installations by Edwin van der Heide and the current generation of laptop and improvisation with the flute player Anne La Berge. Which struck me as odd, as she lives in The Netherlands since 1989, but is of course American. Wasn't there another representative from this scene, like say Cor Fuhler? Oskamp writes easy language, no technical bla-bla (although there is list of explanations in the book), which makes this a great book for the interested listener, ready to find out more; or perhaps for those who know a little bit about electronic music but keen to know more: its all in this book. A book also that invites you to re-listen, to those excellent box sets of Boerman and Raaijmakers, or both 'Anthologies Of Dutch Electronic Music'. One thing to complain about: all of the composers (not just the six with a portrait) mentioned in the book have a conservatories background. It ignores entirely the generation of autodidacts, say people like Roel Meelkop or Jos Smolders, but also the noise boys (say Fckn Bstrds, Odal), which I think is a serious omission.
At the same time there is also a third 'Anthology Of Dutch Electronic Music', which spans the years 1999-2010 (meaning there is nothing for 1978-1999, but perhaps someone can look into that) and has the same omission: no Meelkop, Smolders or Fckn Bstrds. A bunch of people here have found their way to Vital Weekly before, such as Justin Bennett, Gert-Jan Prins Edwin van der Heide, Marko Cicilliani, Yannis Kyriakides, Huib Emmer, Thomas Ankersmit and Robert van Heumen. Obviously it also contains names I never heard of, which proofs the music scene in those serious circles is well alive. A variety of these pieces have been released before (Prins, Van der Heide, Bennett, De Man, Emmer, Van Heumen, Bollen, Houtkamp, Kyriakides), which some may find a pity, but I guess there aren't that many completists who have it all. The CD sees the variety of interests as outlined in the book well worked out. From listening pieces of pure electronic music to combinations of with 'real' instruments, improvisations and installation pieces, its all there. Tracks are shorter than on previous Anthologies, which makes it perhaps less easy to digest all at once. Twenty-six tracks is a lot to digest. There are some great pieces here, such as the drones from Hans Timmermans and Thomas Ankersmit, the almost religious singing of Henry Vega, the noise of Bosch & Simons and Cathy van Eck and some fine, if not more conventional pieces by others, such as Kees Tazelaar, Rozalie Hirs and Roderik de Man. One track leaped out, negatively, and that is Luc Houtkamp's piece, which sounded like a horrible exercise for guitar loops. Read book, play the CD and go back to the shelves to play the rest. That is what I call a well-spend weekend. (FdW)


ELECTRIC CARPETS (CD by Record Label Records)
DRINKING THE GOAT'S BLOOD (CD by Record Label Records)
Robbie Martin has a fine nose for electric and electronic music. He compiled two CD's and the quality of the music is high, because of its quality and experimental use of music. The music is released at Record Label Records, which Robbie Martin in 1996 when he was a young man of 15 years old. Electric Carpets is a compilation with experimental electronic dance music, but if you think you will have a nice compilation of floor fillers... I do not know. I never go to danceparties, but my teenage daughter finds the music "nice but...." As many compilations the listener will be taken to all kinds of music which fits in a concept which the compiler has in his mind. Some musicians use traditional dance elements and try to create something more. Anyhow... if you are interested in creative electronic beats and "yes of no" dance music, this CD is highly recommended, "Drinking the Goat's Blood" is more focused on experimental music with 19 tracks with a wide diversity of sound designs and atmospheres. Fluorescent Grey is a project of the label-owner itself and has beautiful looped metallic sounds and slightly filtered to several moods. column one has a basic track with voice what makes the sound of gun and other sounds are added like a howling wolf, beats, bells and rumbles. A very funny piece of music. Some tracks are just beats, short moments of pleasure and soundscapes. Others are more like free-jazz based electronics like Squarepusher or ambient based tracks with slightly moving synthesizers patterns and pulsating drums. Great introduction to explore and to experience more of this well composed jewels of sound. (Jan-Kees Helms)


CITY PARANOID - CLOSE DOWN (CD by Paranoid Press Release)
Closedown is the latest CD from Crispin Lee under the name City Paranoid and is a follow-up of of Dream's Edge (2004) and A Means to No End ( 2008). Closedown will be the final chapter of his set of solo recordings under the name City Paranoid. The album is very intense and built up of 11 tracks in a period of 26 minutes. The tracks are created by highly manipulated field-recordings, and acoustic and electronic sound sources. His voice tells a story, but I cannot follow it, because of my lack the English language, but also because of the way the voice is mixed in drony, noisy sound layers. But maybe this is also the meaning of these short stories with titles like Hitched, Now Understood, Terminal Nation, At Peace with Nothing and Silent Running. That we will never know what the thoughts are of this man who is living in a city which fears him a lot by all the dangerous moments, vehicles and people. Cause if we really know what in his mind than we can track and expose him. City Paranoid is a short well-composed piece of dark music with a unique personal touch. (Jan-Kees Helms)


No doubt the oddest release I received this week. Marcus Cotten is the man behind Channel In Channel Out, and hails from Portland, Oregon. Odd music, since just what is it anyway? Popmusic? Singer-songwriter? Ambient? Folktronic? All four is the most likely thing. Cotten sings with high falsetto voice, a bit nasal, and on his plate he has a guitar, but also hissy electronics, click 'n cut beats, found sound. Throughout these ten tracks the mood is best described as 'melancholic' and perhaps 'tracks' is also not the right word. These are more sketch like offerings. Sometimes it seems that a song is not entirely finished yet, but no doubt that is part of a higher game plan, if there is any at all. A most curious release indeed, but every time I play it, it grows more and more. It may contains that I am normally not blown with, such as those vocals, which should not be my cup of tea at all, it keeps growing and growing. A fine cross road of pop, folk, experimental music, ambient and general weirdness. Odd, curious, and simply great. (FdW) Address:


Its not easy to find information on this label, but through discogs I learned that Hypnagogia is a label run by P. Coates, also known as Anomali, and that this CD contains three pieces of vinyl, probably long out of print, 'Falten' by The New Blockaders and 'Oumagatoki' by Merzbow and The New Blockaders. 'Falten' was recorded with Anomali, of whom the release 'Nitya-Baddha' is included here (all three were actually 10 inch records). The three of them are also responsible for the final piece, which is a new one 'Kali-Yuga Karma'. Here the Blockaders and Merzbow provide sound material and Anomali did the composition. Of these works I only heard 'Oumagatoki' before, but as I love re-issues on CD, I welcome all three. Of course, this is a disc of noise music and this is no problem. I like noise, but not all noise. Elsewhere I write about noise that doesn't succeed, but there is also fine examples of great noise, and this disc proofs it. From the maltreated vinyl attacks of 'Falten' to the delicate electronic noise patterns employed by the Blockaders/Merzbow, in a twenty minute unrelentness style (why did the term harsh noise wall not exist for this, I wondered), with even a touch of musical-ness in the second part of 'Oumagatoki'. Anomali uses acoustic treatments along with pre-taped music from vinyl (I assume) and slips into a more quieter style of noise on the second part of 'Nitya-Baddha'. Three somewhat different approaches to the idea of 'noise' and this all culminates in the sort title track: a furious attack on the nerve system. Study material for aspiring cement builders of harsh noise wall. (FdW)


Sawi Lieu lives in Jakarta, Indonesia  and and describes his 24 piece of music as created a trip on the Trans-Java Express, in a train cabin filled with sounds of cosmic music, gamelan and dangdut, all mixed and smashed into a mega Technicolor brew. And really this description fits really well by this collage of sounds and styles. Unfortunately the quality of the sound-recording is not really good, but the this low-fi sounds makes it more surrounded by a hidden layer. What I really adore is that Sawi Lieu takes time to explore soundlayers, melodies and rhythms and how to combine them. A nice piece of electronic music with different moods which flows into each other. But he deserves a better sound quality! The other part of the split is created by Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from Singapore. They celebrated the coming of 2012 with a noise-psych improvisation action. And indeed these recordings are a real party for the ears. The recordings are really good and fresh. The guitarist plays in a nice manner guitar with greats licks and riffs. The band plays in post-rock style and they do it in a nice manner. Sometimes it takes too long these improvisations, but the moments of weird psychedelic walls of sounds save the day. Anyhow... I do not understand this combination of this split CDR, cause the styles and far away from each other and the infosheet cannot help me to give an answer to this question. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


For somebody who doesn't have a license to drive cars its hard to fall asleep at the wheel. But I do like to drive with other people, especially at night. Listening to music, talking about music. 'Asleep At The Wheel' is an installation created by Janek Schaeffer, which includes a ghost road of cars in an abandoned supermarket, along with in car soundtracks. This cassette is a mix of those soundtracks, but you can also download all of them from Schaefer's website. Now me and my friends prefer to play popmusic in cars, especially of the cheesy kind, but Schaefer may beg to differ. The mixtape has music that may lull the driver into sleep: stretched out tones, crackling sounds, gliding scales and such like. If anything I was reminded of the old Stephan Mathieu music, lifted from radio sources perhaps. Short pieces which is perhaps the thing that prevents the listener from falling asleep. 'Wonderland', the twenty minute piece on the b-side may be dangerous in that respect. Perhaps the driver should download the complete soundtracks, especially if a long drive is ahead, since this as all the sounds as on the mix tape (or are we invited to mix these sounds ourselves, I mused) but also lots of spoken word, radio switch dialing and muzak like soundtracks. I am the first to admit that I didn't listen to all of them, spanning over two hours worth of music, but I can assure you one day I will. Most likely on a long train journey (which I recently did listening to six hours of Brian Eno, catching sleep on a night train). Actually: can't wait for that to happen. Great bunch of soundtracks, suitable for any situation. (FdW) Address:


GHOUL/VASCO ALVES - SPLIT (cassette by Foredoom Productions)
ANDREW PERRY/UTILITY - SPLIT (cassette by Foredoom Productions)
PHALANX - FFF333 (cassette by Foredoom Productions)
ARAR - AMPLIFIED DUO (cassette/CDR by Foredoom Productions)
Foredoom Productions primarily releases cassettes with "but not exclusively with - harsh / minimal acoustic / electronic improvisations / arrangements." The first tape is by Ghoul on one side and Vasco Alves on the other. Ghoul definitely is harsh noise, even when the title of their piece, 'Chant', may sound otherwise. A wall of noise type of thing, but in which there is more happening than just a wall of feedback and distortion. Its alright, perhaps because it lasts just under twelve minutes and the somewhat low medium adds its own tonal color to it. The other side is a solo project of Vasco Alves, who is into circuit bending. Here he has loops of radio transmissions 'played through the AM/FM Keyboard 6, multi-tracked and processed severely through Supercollider patches.' He could have fooled me, but what do I know? A distorted lo-fi sound of what could indeed be computerized noise, of sounds fading in and out. Maybe at eleven minutes a bit long for what the idea has to offer, but nonetheless quite functional low grade noise.
The next release is also a split. Andrew Perry previously collaborated with Dead Wood (see Vital Weekly 719) and is a member of Gish (see Vital Weekly 707). The cover lists only one title for his side, but it consists of various blocks of sounds/music, alternating between loud, quite loud, a bit softer. Hard to tell what it is that he does here, but as a brutal form of musique concrete it actually sounds quite alright. Roughly processed field recordings and electronics. Nice. I never heard of Utility who have a thirty-two minute piece on the b-side. It starts out quite loud, and I feared it would be all noise here, but thing went more quiet and it seems it was made on a bunch of analogue synthesizers. Not quite at the sophisticated edge of cosmic music, but effective and to the point.
Also Phalanx is a new name for me. Two pieces here, both called 'Field Of Rape', both said to last 16:45. 'Synthesiser & Voice' and 'Structured improvisations through time based systems' it says also on the cover, which has no further information. I am not sure what the structured aspect of this music is, as it seems to me that this is all a bit unstructured in the realms of voice (?) plus synth. The second version of 'Field Of Rape' is louder than the first, but both seem to me an uncontrolled mass of noise and a bit worn out. Its alright, I guess, for what it is, but not great.
Vasco Alves returns in a duo with Louie Rice. Both get credit for electronics on a release that spans a forty-two minute tape and a nineteen minute CDR. In total about an hour worth of music. Its mostly improvised electronic music with a strong touch of experimentalism and noise. Music that goes on and on, in lengthy proportions, lots of feedback wailing about, but in an intelligent way. Sometimes a bit like the first works of Arcane Device, if anyone remembers that, but all a bit more monolithic and minimal. Not a lot of changes occur here, but its all quite effective. Maybe the hour is a bit much for such excursions, but you could do some mixing yourself, using both formats. (FdW) Address:


THE ALTERS - BLUE HOLE (cassette by Lighten Up Sounds)
'Blue Hole' was recorded 'live in the afternoon' as it says on the cover. A duo from Kansas City playing clarinet and synth. Odd music, that is partly rooted in improvised music, but is also surprisingly coherent. A bit cosmic also, especially of course due to the synthesizer. This plays steady on drone like material, occasionally with bubbling sounds, but no long wave arpeggio's in sight. A raw version of cosmic music perhaps. Maybe there is not enough variation to hold the interest for forty minutes, but certainly the kind of music that works well on a cassette release.
John Zuma St. Pelvyn plays guitar and theremin, aided with the use of electronics and sometimes recorded outdoors. Whereas The Alters may use improvisation but it works out a bit differently, this release by Pelvyn is all improvised guitar music. Sometimes as subtle as say Loren Connors or John Fahey, and sometimes more scratchy, then melodic. Blues music I should think, beautiful blues music actually. Pelvyn takes you on a road trip through waste lands, deserts and across mountains. Great stuff. (FdW)


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