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Vital Weekly 778

img  Tobias Fischer

Fario is not quick with releasing their series of split/collaborative works, but they are usually something to watch out for. There are original tracks by each of the two groups involved and a collaborative piece. At the core of this new release stands the ANS synthesizer, of which only one exist, in Moscow. It was developed by E. Murzin from 1937 to 1957 stands for Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, the crazy composer with synesthesia problems. The synth translates drawings into sound, and was used by the likes of Coil, Edward Artemiev (in the 'Solaris' soundtrack) and Alfred Schnittke. I am not sure, but I don't think that Eugene Voronovsky, a.k.a. Cisfinitum and the Dutch duo The [Law-Rah] Collective actually used the ANS, but they use sounds from the machine, as well as voices, polivoks, violin, field recordings (in Cisfinitum's case) and analog synthesizers and electronics (in the Collective case). Cisfinitum's piece lasts almost twenty-three minutes of utter dark textured ambient bliss. Dark haunting, like a couple of mad monks chanting in the desolated abyss, before going out on a murder spree. Excellent dark trip. In their collaborative piece things sound slightly less dark and more conventional, in a sort of serious avant-garde way, the sort of Planet Of The Apes soundtrack. In the three pieces by The [Law-Rah] Collective things go under again, into the undercurrent of the styx with dazzling sizzling buzzing and ringing sounds of the analogue domain. Though their pieces are less of monolithic block of drones than Cisfinitum, The [Law-Rah] Collective have a somewhat more open sound, grey rather than black. Not really the type of music to be played alone in the dark. Keep candles burning until the end. An excellent display of the darker world of sonic depth. (FdW) Address:


LIONEL MARCHETTI - UNE SAISON (2CD by Monotype Recordings)
This double CD is a most welcome re-issue of four early works of Lionel Marchetti, which are no doubt all long gone and sometimes released as a 3"CD, which some people found difficult. Its 'La Grande VallÈe' (Metamkine's Cinema Pour L'Oreille), 'Portrait d'un glacier' (Ground Fault Recordings), 'Dans la montagne (Ki Ken TaÔ)' (La Muse En Circuit and later Chloe Recordings) and 'L'oeil retournÈ' (Selektion). Marchetti is self-taught, but has a great love of the use of microphones and loudspeakers. He uses that extensively in these four works, which contain lots of field recordings aswell as in 'La Grande VallÈe' various instruments, such as clarinet and voices and in 'L'oeil retournÈ' also an analogue synthesizer. Marchetti's pieces sometimes uses site specific field recordings, made during a mountain trip ('Portrait d'un glacier') or the French Kendo team ('Dans la montagne (Ki Ken TaÔ)'). He puts these sounds together in some fine narrative pieces of musique concrete. A walk though the mountains, along dangerous glaciers, the fields of southern france or Kendo schools, all of these put together with great elegance and care. A fine combination of sounds, movements, textures and spaces. He truly tells a story, rather than just documenting the world around him. Human activity, music making, is as important as natural sounds. These four 'early' pieces are all equally great at that, and for those who arrived 'late' in discovering Marchetti, this is a most welcome re-issue. (FdW)


This week and in the next few weeks there will be some releases from Bolt Records that deal with music that is generated in Polish Radio Experimental Studio, long for Pres. An electronic studio like so many countries have or had. The studio started in 1957 and still runs. Jozef Patkowski was the director for 28 years, until 1985. He died in 2005, and its to his honor that we have a double CD with seven pieces by seven composers and eight 'covers' (remixes, reworks, whatever you want) of these pieces by contemporary composers, such as Phil Durrant, Eddie Prevost, John Tilbury and various from Poland. Rather a short CD, the first one, only forty-three minutes, whereas one could assume there is more work? Polish best known classical composer, Krysztof Penderecki, is also present here. He composed one solely electronic piece. What can be noted in the seven original works is that the composers either used long form sound pieces, of sustaining sounds and partly to use real instruments, which add a strange, unheard in other studios I think, improvised feel to the music. The cut-up collage method is hardly a present feature, perhaps only in the piece 'Collage' by Eugeniusz Rudnik. Some fine pieces where electronic music, musique concrete and composed music for real instruments blurr together in an excellent way. It also makes perfect sense for the second CD, 'covers' with pieces that come from the more improvised era's, certainly by the non-polish composers. Of great interest in the piece performed by Tilbury, who does a great electro-acoustic versus piano version of the Penderecki piece.
The second double CD is entirely devoted to one composer, Bohdan Mazurek (born in 1937), who has composed a lot of music since the late fifties, both autonomous works, but also soundtracks for movies, animations and signature tunes for radio and television. I never heard of him but the works here are somewhat of a delight to hear. It opens with an 80s piece of pure electronic music, 'Six Electronic Preludes' but also has pieces that involve real instruments such as the harp, voices, whispering and shouting, or the guitar and vocal like sounds in 'Ballade', or even orchestral at the start of 'Pennsylvania Dream'. Pure electronic pieces seem to be in minority here (another example is 'Reverie'), as there is always something else going on. Extensive use of voice material for instance. Delicate, strong pieces from what seems to me about twenty years of his career - late sixties to late eighties. I am no judge to say wether these are his best years, but the music is truly remarkable. Anyone who likes to discover new 'old' music from the world of serious electronic music should hear this. Its great.
Following this introduction is perhaps less of surprise that someone got the idea to invite the Zeitkratzer ensemble to perform some of the pieces. It has six pieces from Polish electronic music history played on the acoustic instruments of Zeitkratzer. There are two pieces that overlaps with the previous double CD, 'Dixi' from Eugeniusz Rudnik and 'Episodes' by Bohdan Mazurek. Following what I just heard on the double CD, Zeitkratzer's interpretation of Polish electronic music may not surprise very much. Which said, doesn't mean this not something to not like. They play their six pieces with great care and style, probably only as they can do. Long sustaining notes on the wind instruments and strings, certainly in the three opening pieces, 'Dixi', 'View From The Window' and 'Low Sounds'. In 'Icon (For Tape)', the whole ensemble opens up, and brings out a variety of bursts and glissandi, which reaches it peak in the following, 'Norcet', which is chaotic at times. 'Episodes' is then the majestic closing of the CD. Excellent renditions. Much music to discover in all of these releases. (FdW)


[MULTER] - BERGE IM BUNKER (CD by Consouling)
Although quite active, not all releases by Belgium's Consouling label are reviewed in Vital Weekly, which is a pity. From [Multer] I received these new releases. The compilation has mostly new names from the field of dark ambient, perhaps except the well established [Multer]. The other names are not necessarily new but despite various years of activity not well-known, such as Monotonos, Mirko Uhlig, Blindhead, Simulacra and Tzesne, or the new kid on the block Premonition Factory. I never heard of IAM, Soundsketching, N-16, Nihilium and someone who may be taking the piss out of Dirk Serries: Distant Fires Burning (well, perhaps he's very serious, who knows?). Twelve pieces in total, about the entire length of a CD filled with music that walks the otherwise thin line of ambient, drones, field recordings, minimal electronics and all such like. If there is an umbrella name needed, I would say 'all things atmospheric'. It works out in different ways. Some use monolithic blocks of sustaining synthesizer sounds with hardly any air between them, some use guitars tinkling away, other allow small melodies to happen. Tzesne closes down with a bit of suppressed noise, but that's really the only one in its kind. For the uninitiated of course these differences might be small but there is surely a difference between the melancholic organ drones of [Multer], the very extreme filtering of Blindhead, the processed field recordings of Distant Fires Burning,  the synth/guitar/field recordings drones of Mirko Uhlig, the delicate monotony of Monotonos, the sweetness of organ drones of N-16, the guitars of Soundsketching and Premotion Factory sound both different and the aforementioned 'noise' of Tzesne. Only Nihilum and Simulacra fail to impress and stay closely to other pieces. Not bad at all for compilation.
On their 'Berge Im Bunker' CD, [Multer], a duo of Hoeschen and Neidhardt, have two pieces that ran for over a year during an exhibition of Barbara Meisner in Dortmund. They came from ABGS and play music that can be described as atmospheric, also, but they do not always choose the easy route of endless sustaining and buzzing analogue synthesizers and chirping birds. On these two pieces, together just over thirty six minutes, they use guitars, effects and small percussion. It evolves and revolves in slow, but mildly changing cycles. This is, in a way, also 'drone' music, but [Multer]'s sound is quite open, spacious and desolate. Spacious as in 'outside' but also as in 'inside' - it floats elegantly in your private space. Eno-like ambient music that has a bit more development in each of these pieces that in much of the work of the master. The two pieces are linked together in the way they sound, using elements of eachother, the sparse two note guitar, the dark drones that swells and disappears - flowing like a calm sea. A most delicate piece of music, in two parts. A gorgeous work. (FdW)

In pre-internet days it was very well possible to know of a piece of music, but without actually hearing it. So when I finished Michael Nyman's book 'Experimental Music - Cage And Beyond' I knew of a lot of pieces and in some cases it took me a lot of time to actually hear them. I believe the first time I heard 'The Great Learning' by Cornelius Cardew, was when Ekkehard Ehlers played it one night. Its the well-known Deutsche Grammaphon version, which I bought later - and can't find right now, as I wanted to compare it with this new four CD version from Poland. 'The Great Learning' is a piece in which 'each participant ideally fulfills the roles of performer, listener, critic and composer' and it's name comes from the first of the four classic books of Confucian religion, written by Confucius himself. Cardew set each of the seven paragraphs to music. A score that has abstract lines as well as written instructions on which material to use, such as 'wind as it issues from blown pipes', organ pipes, voices (throat, singing), stones against stones, metal on metal, wood on skin. The general idea is to develop a sense of community among the players, since its for amateur players. Very much a piece of its time, the 'hippie' era, in which we all could be musicians. It has, perhaps strangely enough, a cerebral, almost religious experience, especially when voices are used. A mass (in both senses) choir of voices that chant in an almost rhythmic way. Given the extension of the group of performers, over sixty!, this is perhaps not easy to avoid, but it's what makes this an attractive piece to perform, but also to hear. Intimate, contemplating, but also outgoing and expressive. Maybe some will think of this as a hippie gathering tribal piece, and perhaps it is, but is also the classic from the modern music canon, in which participating from the 'amateur' never worked as well as here. A long piece, spanning over four hours here and as such best enjoyed in one, uninterrupted listening session. The power is by the people here. (FdW) Address:


NEGHANTIL - 1990-1996 (2 cassettes by Fang Bomb)
Three new releases on Fang Bomb and on three different formats. First, on CD, we have a the first release by Jasper TX in two years, following 'Singing Stones' on the same label. Jasper TX is Dag Rosenqvist, to me best known as collaborator with Machinefabriek. Like that fabriek, Jasper TX is man to play guitars, lots of effects and who receive help here from Mike Weis on drums, Aaron Martin on cello and Henrik Munkeby Norstebo on trombone. The previous work I heard from him was what I described as micro-tonal ambient music along the lines of Machinefabriek but on 'The Black Sun Transmissions' things have changed. Its probably still microtonal, and still ambient to some extent, its also much, much darker than it was before. I have no idea what happened in the life of Rosenqvist, but it certainly has become darker over there. It seems as if everything is pitched down, with air sucked out of it, a closed room, or something like that. Howling in feedback and overtones - although never in a really loud and nasty way, but still uptight, rubbing against your hair. Also quite a dynamic work, with loud passages, also those that almost seem to be disappearing, and for quite a while. Throughout I thought this was quite a fine album, a fine step forward. A more matured sound, and possibly also something that is more of himself. The addition of the improvised parts by others top things off in a great way.
Recently I reviewed two issues of comic magazine 'Very Friendly', drawn by Ronnie Sundin, who is, as we learn from his comic books also a musician. In recent years working under his name, before that as Bad Kharma. What I didn't know is that before Bad Kharma, the earliest incarnation of Sundin was Neghantil. Sundin started in 1988 when father Christmas donated a keyboard (organ?), and he was in various synth bands, but in 1990 started to play solo as Neghantil, an 'industrial' music act. That lasted until 1995. This double tape, absolutely neatly packed in a black box and metal lapel pin, along with 'six art cards', concentrates on the earliest years of Neghantil, 1990-1996, which the first tape being the first three years and the other 'rehearsal tapes' from 1990-1996. Its not music as we know (and love) from the Ronnie Sundin that was once Bad Kharma. That was pretty loud or very soft, but as Neghantil he uses drum machines, korg synthesizers, bass guitar and even an Ensoniq Mirage and vocals. If anything to do by, I'd say Sundin was a big fan of the old Esplendor Geometrico sound, although not always as sharp, but at times just as unfocussed, with pieces going just too long. The rhythm machine stands for firm in the middle, and ticks away a steady beat, along while the synthesizers burst, crack and oscillate. With or without lyrics, which were hard to decipher anyway. Pretty dark and finely grim music, the very sort of typical cassette act; then as well as now. Quite nice actually, also something from both then and now. Good to see issued on the right format. (FdW)

Since joining facebook I gathered about 1500 friends, but would I consider them real friends? Some yes, many, do I know you really? Oddly enough the people I consider real friends are not on facebook, some exceptions excluded, and one of them is Scott Foust. We share the same passions, and only one of them is music. One other would be smoking. I don't like reviews to be personal or biased, then stop reading. Its impossible for me to write a negative review on Idea Fire Company, the group with at its core, since its inception, Foust and his wife Karla Borecky. As a part-time member I toured with them, which easily counts as one of the funniest things in touring life so far. Plus we played great music. I said this was a biased review. Since their first record, I am a huge fan of theirs and none of the records disappointed me. A small but great catalogue. Their last record came out on Ultra Eczema, 'Beauty School' and was a highlight in their catalogue (see Vital Weekly 677). No guestplayers on 'Music From The Impossible Salon', just Borecky and Foust, handling piano, trombone, synth, radio, voice and organ. That might give you an indication that their music has changed once more. It dwells less on synthesizers and drone like features (ultimately organized in 'Beauty School') in favor of a more acoustic sound, with sparse piano playing, like a sunday painter: naive and childish with a bit of highly minimalist and far away synth in the background or a bit of radio. If anything is evoked here, then I'd say its this is a possible salon, and one that is located in Paris, late 19th century. People discuss beauty and Idea Fire Company provide the music for it. Its music that can't be linked to anything else. Its hardly electronic, nowhere near ambient/pop/rock etc, but also hardly neo-classical. It sees Idea Fire Company going into an entirely different world, a long forgotten world perhaps, Paris 1880, through these eight delicate pieces of music. Idea Fire Company fans will perhaps be shocked, but then, if they are true fans, they know they can't be shocked. Its the magic of the last great man and his wife. True beauty. But it might very well be just me, the biased reviewer (makes note here: two things for the long easter weekend: 1) buy more tobacco and 2) play all previous Idea Fire Company records again) (FdW) Address:


Recently this trio was undercover present as Evil Madness (see Vital Weekly 773), an exercise in disco, and perhaps some of that experience rubs off in this new collaborative work - I believe the fourth or fifth time they work together. Up until now their work together was deep atmospheric excursions into the space we call drone music, but something has changed. Maybe its the re-arrival cosmic music that put them back at their analogue synthesizers and organs? The press text supplied hints certainly towards that. Certainly an album with more open spaces than what they produced so far. A far cry from monolithic blocks of highly computerized drones, this buzzes in an analogue way, carrying small melodies around, rattling percussion in the background, or the air sucked into a harmonium. Somewhere on the b-side (no track titles, so 'Big Shadow Montana' should be seen as one piece) it leaps into one of those pre-set rhythms found on organs with meandering, somewhat cliched melody, which actually sounds very sweet. It adds, once more, that lovely cosmic ring to the music. This album sees them leaping out of the old fashioned drones in return to something that is perhaps even more old fashioned, but which sounds like a fresh start again. It holds a great promise for the future. (FdW) Address:


JAPAN VOL.1 (3"CDR by Kaon)
In the ongoing series of river sounds, as recorded by label boss Cedric Peyronnet and Toy Bizarre main man, its the turn of Simon Whetham to create a piece out of it. Recently I was privy to hear the soundbank that is part of this project and was slightly amazed by the vast amount of sounds capturing over 4GB of sounds. Definitely not an easy choice to make. I am not sure which are the choices made by Whetham, but his methods and composition are clear: he uses some extreme filtering to get rid of the more mid-end range of the sounds in favor of more low end rumbling of water and layers them with water sounds that have a more hissy kind of texture. Over the course of eighteen minutes the sound gradually dies out, like a river disappearing out of sight. A fine story is told here with this piece.
In February 2000 Cedric Peyronnet toured Japan and like the sort of person he is, he made a whole bunch of field recordings. On Japan Vol. 1 he presents a composition from that tour, as well a composition by Hitoshi Kojo using material Peyronnet recorded at the house of the tour organizer, the late Koji Tano. Its hard to say what the action is at the house and which is the element of composing in Kojo's piece. It has a metallic ringing sound, set in motion by small electrical motors. What is what and who does what is a bit unclear, but it surely sounds great. I recently played an old record by Harry Bertoia, and this piece reminded me of that. The Toy Bizarre piece is based on a session held in the snowy Kushiro-City harbor and is a more noisy piece of microphones dragged through snow, boat sounds in the harbor, sometimes near silence and has a refined electro-acoustic feel to it. (FdW) Address:


ACTE VIDE - NOEUD (3"CDR by More Mars)
Greek label More Mars started a series of new releases called 'Nous Series', with new Greek artists. The first is Christos Zachos (1980) who studied electro-acoustic and instrumental composition, which is also what he now teaches. He has three pieces here, which show an excellent treatment of the sound material. Hard to say what that sound material actually is. These might be instruments, but just as well it might very well be field recordings of some kind. In 'The Companions Of Me' this results in some traditional musique concrete but it works quite well. All three pieces have a great dark quality to them. In the final piece, 'Study For Tzouras' some stringed instrument meets electronica, and it doesn't work very well, its the weakest and also the shortest of the three pieces. The other two are excellent examples of musique concrete.
Acte Vide is a duo of Danae Stefanou (piano) and Yiannis Kotsonis (electronics) from Athens. It starts out in an almost inaudible way, but then builds up to an extreme high of distorted sounds, both arriving through the electronics and the piano. Chaotic, hectic and nervous, almost Merzbow with acoustic instruments still well in place. That is all in the first nine minutes and then it cuts out. A new build up begins, but this time shorter, around three minutes. The final eight minutes is an entirely different thing. Here its no longer a duet, or so it seems, but the electronics play a mighty piece of drone based music, while the piano adds more loose end sounds (maybe singing overtones from the piano wires would have been a nice addition?). Its an excellent, extreme piece of violently improvised music. All captured live. (FdW)


Dutch composer Dick Raaijmakers once created a piece of music, theatre rather, in which he destroyed twelve microphones, by sawing them, drowning, shredding and also burning. I am not sure if Matthieu Saladin ever heard that piece, but he does the same thing, with one microphone however and one action: burning. In almost five minutes we hear a 'recording of a microphone picking up its own destruction by fire'. Its not the first conceptually inclined release by Saladin, who previously released a loud version of '4'33' by Cage (before against the machine hype). I love this sort of crazy small ideas, even may have thought of one or two myself, and the sheer intensity of the microphone slowly burning and eventually being destroyed, is a great one. Saladin's output is small but excellent. (FdW) Address:


ASHER - TWO COMPOSITIONS (cassette by Con-V)
These days Asher is a little bit more sparse when it comes to releases, but for this two works, composed in October and November 2009, he choose the right medium. Perhaps the best medium for his work anyway. Asher plays music that deals with low-grade sounds - deliberate low-grade sounds, I should say. Music that works with lots of hiss from the cassettes he uses to record his music on, and left in intentionally. These pieces, ten minutes per piece, use some form of looping of sound source unknown, which gets a bit spaced out. It seems like the tapes used are a bit stretched, so that the loop is not entirely perfect, but moves a bit back and forth on the a-side and on the b-side its more clustered together. Here it sounds like slowed down organ playing on a reel-to-reel tape-deck. Both pieces include the start and stop sounds of a cassette, as a mark of quality. Excellent. (FdW) Address:

Edward Sol is a musician and soundartist from Kiev - Ukraine and starts in 2001 the label Quasi Pop.  He was educated as a sound-designer for cinema and television. Since 2006 he returned to his musical roots and starts to work with structured noise, experimental and electro-acoustic music, tapes, several microphones, guitar and analogue synthesizers. This ultimate mixture of soundsources he melts into his latest release Provocative Manner. The inlay-card of the cassette is maybe an explanation of the title. Quasi Pop claims that analogue media, like CD-R's, tapes and vinyl is the best way to communicate to the listener, that all production elements are hand-made and all editions are in limited edition. Of course it is nice to walk to tape-deck to turn the tape and listen to side B. But for the iPod generation it is too much. Anyway maybe the Superman with the forage cap will save the world for the loss of analogue sound recording. The music itself is a delicate exploration of all kind of electro-acoustic sounds, noises and more. Minimal scratches alternate strong electronic beats and layers who are overlapping each other. Edward Sol takes you to different worlds of his musical possibilities and that makes this cassette worth listening. (Jan-Kees Helms)


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