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Vital Weekly 780

img  Tobias Fischer

Of course Aidan Baker is by now well-known. Not that Vital Weekly reviewed all of his 100+ releases, solo or with Nadja, Arc and Whisper Room, but a fair share indeed. Thisquietarmy is the musical project, since 2005, of Eric Quach. He hails from Montreal and is also part of Destroyalldreamers and Mains de Givre. Both he and Baker play the guitar, and both do that to create 'drone' and 'ambient' music. They worked before and that resulted in the first version of 'Orange', a limited CDR only release on Quach own TQA label. This new extended version is re-edited, remastered and has four new tracks. Like with much music I heard from Baker, its hard to believe its all done with just guitars. At times I could have easily believed that there is a whole bunch of analogue synthesizers buzzing away. There is a great cosmic quality to many of these pieces, which, I know, is perhaps a modern buzz word, but hearing this music also very much true. A straight line from the early Ash Ra Temple going into the realms of 'Orange'. Great mood music. Howling like the wind, quiet as the desert, dark as the night sky. New? Nah, obviously not. Do we care? Nah, not really. Its perhaps good that I haven't heard all 100+ works by Baker, and that works like 'Orange' still sound fresh to these ears. (FdW)


Elsewhere I write about obscure 80s tapes and it would certainly be also the starting point of this review. I first heard music by Ian Boddy when I got hold of 'Rising From The Red Sand' and a compilation called 'Visions'. Especially the later had music that I didn't hear a lot on tapes: melodic, sequencer synthesizer music. Like raw versions of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream (release that again, and you'll be the hero of the recent cosmic music revival). I played it more than most other tapes. Years later I found out that Ian Boddy still plays music, and is part of a scene that never lost faith in cosmic music, yet I never heard much of his later music. Bakis Sirros mailed me however his latest work, recorded with Ian Boddy. His previous solo CD, 'Shade' was reviewed in Vital Weekly 668, while his work with Alio Die was reviewed in Vital Weekly 730. Both Boddy and Sirros love analogue synthesizers. I could be fooled, but this duo didn't work together in one room, which is odd, since it surely sounds like it. But apparently the starting point was some ambient based material Sirros recorded and handed over to Boddy for further  toying and messing about. Boddy added quite an amount of percussive layers, which do not sound techno like, mind you, but takes the music away from the strict ambient scene, and moves it into a land of soundtracks. Wide open fields, hills no doubt, in which a car is cruising, with nicely tinkling electric piano sounds. Very slickly produced - its hard to find any rough edge around this release. Dream away music, oh, I think the proper title is chill out music. Boddy has certainly come a long way from the past, when things were indeed a bit more roughly shaped, and no doubt thanks to many years of experience and new equipment it all sounds as it does now. I thought it was all very nice, yet hardly surprising. You can't be always surprised I guess, nor is there no need to be always surprised. Hearing fine music of a pleasant nature is just as nice, I should think. I drank some coffee, read a bit, and looked at the more quiet moments out of the window. Life is good, I mused. (FdW) Address:

JONAS KOCHER - SOLO (CD by Insubordinations)
Back in Vital Weekly 709 I already reviewed a solo CD by Jonas Kocher, from Switzerland. He plays the accordion, and has done so solo, but also with people like Urs Leimgruber, Michel Doneda, Thomas Lehn, Harold Schellinkx and others. This new CD is again, hardly a surprise with such a title, solo, this time captured in concert in Bern. One piece, that lasts more or less thirty five minutes, and its quite a demanding piece of music. Kocher plays the entire instrument, not just regular, but also the bellow, the knobs, the keys etc. Quite expertly he plays out both the low end and the high end of the instrument, and cleverly uses the dynamics of loud versus soft. There are times when you almost hear nothing, and then there are overwhelmingly loud bits. As said quite demanding. There is obviously a difference between the stage and the CD. If you don't see what's happening, you may loose your attention after a while, which I must admit happened to me at times here. Unlike his previous release 'Materials', this is all less drone based and more in an open collage like style played. Best enjoyed, I guess, when played with absolutely no distraction of any kind, fully concentrated on the work itself, and, when finished, I guess, its best not to do anything for a while. Take a rest and let it all slip in. Then the beauty of it can be enjoyed best. (FdW) Address:

THE HATERS VS FCKN BSTRDS (7inch by Dead Mind Records)
How to read this review. Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there. 1. How does art work? Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there. 2. The Haters, some few minutes of metallic wall and feedback. Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there. 3. 45 R.P.M. Single. Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there. 4. American Juke boxes with lights.. Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there.  5. Pin ball machines, Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there. 6. Atoms and electrons in space. Think of a number between one and fourteen. Go there.  7. The universe, a child's address. England, Europe the world the solar system the galaxy the universe.  Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there. 8. How does art work like synapses in the brain a mesh, the internet, in multiple ways. Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there.  9. Fckn Bstrds cut ups of collaged sound and vocals, Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there. 10. alzheimer's, dementia, Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there.  11.  linear text and time. Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there.  12. vocal performance, Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there. 13. therefore a lesson for me, Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there.  14. a mesh of objects. Think of a number between one and fourteen. go there. (jliat) Address:

CHE CHEN - PULASKI WAVE (7" by Pilgrim Talk)
VEYOU - CARCASS IN THE MIST (cassette by Pilgrim Talk)
Pilgrim Talk usually releases music which has something to do with Nick Hoffman, but of these three there is one that is not him. Che Chen is from New York and plays with Jozef van Wissem in Heresy Of The Free Spirit, but also with Robbie Lee and in True Primes. His main instrument is the violin, but also uses sine wave generators, feedback and tape delay. Two pieces of these here. 'Pulaski Wave' places the violin upfront in a more subdued playing, introvert and spacious. On 'Newton Creek Mirror Lag', the b-side, he adds tape-delay, which makes the piece a bit blurry for my taste. A direct link can be made from the early minimalists (Tony Conrad and Terry Riley above the rest) leading to the direct action music of Chen. Nice minimal music. This could be one of those forgotten classics in twenty years time, so be fast.
On CDR and cassette we find labelowner Nick Hoffman. First there is a twenty-minute improvised recording by Hoffman with Utah Kawasaki of whom I haven't heard in some time. I never heard of Takahiro Kawaguchi of whom the press text notes: 'in 2000, Kawaguchi started thinking about field recordings'. Instruments aren't mentioned here, but it was captured before a concert this trio held on May 3rd 2010 in Tokyo. The soundcheck so to speak, captured on a microcassette. Things start and stop, crackling of objects and if you listen carefully you can hear people coming in and softly talking. A most curious recording of hardly intentional music, just sound based rumbling I guess, but which, curious enough also works quite well. You could as easily mistake as the real concert, and no doubt that is the intention of this. Very nice.
Hoffman, together with Stephen Holliger (who is also known as Swim Ignorant Fire), is also part of Veyou (or rather VEYOU as it is spelled), who call themselves a 'basement electronics' duo. However they also played live once at Chicago's Metal Shaker in December 2009 and ten or so minutes are captured on this cassette. For one reason or another I thought this would be noise, but its not. The title piece on side A is a moody electronics, of waving electronics, but still a bit on rough side. Lo-fi indeed. 'Metal Shaker', the b-side is slightly more noise based, through fragmented noise bits sparkling about, in a more collage like styled piece. Quite concentrated efforts. Again very nice. (FdW) Address:

EN NIHIL/ELYSEUM (CDR by Syndrom Records)
A split CD by Adam Fritz, also known as En Nihil and Elyseum, also known as Mark Angel. I am not entirely sure, but I may have heard En Nihil's music before, but I don't seem to recall when and where. At the start of this, I thought this would be more up the noise street at Jliat's, but for one reason or another (not entirely important either), I kept on playing this, and was rather taken by the noise material of En Nihil. Its not one of those noise blasts with no end, nor variation, but instead En Nihil moves all over the place that is noise. From the utter loud end to more introspective dark industrial ambient, a dash of rhythm here and there, all pretty sparse and spaced out, minimum means to create an maximum effort. Obviously this is all quite dark and sinister. Not for the weak of hearth.
'Bipolar' was the previous release by Elyseum, reviewed in Vital Weekly 738, and unlike En Nihil, whose work here spans eight pieces, Elyseum has just one long piece, and its a continuation of 'Bipolar': more alien nightmare music, played on a bunch of modular synthesizers. Cosmic music, anyone? Not really, the work of Elyseum may hint towards that specific genre, but its not really the same. Whereas the usual inhabitants of the intergalactic cosmos have something sweet, Elyseum is all about nightmares, sinister and full of despair. Blown up, without a spark of light reaching the surface of the planet. Like comets, stars and black holes - fading light into the pitch black sea of infinity. Certainly not pleasant music by any standard, but essential indeed. At times krautrock like with what seems to be wailing, crying guitars, cascading into a brick wall of synthesizer washes. Again: not for the weak minded, and not to be played in the dark. (FdW) Address:


From Berlin is Tetsuya Hori, who composes using a
laptop, all since 2003. She writes that 'my pieces do not have a concept. That is the concept. The concept develops in the head of the listener. I compose not for instruments, but for things. Each piece is different. Every time. I want to show the listener nonsense. Interesting nonsense'. That is, indeed, an interesting concept. I have no idea what to make of this CD. It starts out with an improvisation for voice, and then some electronic sound, which the cover describes as 'cigar box'. Granular synthesis is applied here, in various layers of varying pitches. A strange kind of computerized drone music is the result, and it works nicely. The second piece is called 'Intermezzo' and lasts nine minutes, about half the length of the other two pieces, but hardly an intermezzo length. Here we have voice, piano and that cigar box again. The piano plays in a modern classical vein, the cigar box does something which I couldn't decipher, and the voice is either choir like or improvised vocalizations. The last piece is the title piece, 'for voice, face and rubber bands', and starts out with three minutes of silence and ends with another minute of silence, some of which may become apparent by looking at the cover (if that isn't conceptual, I don't know what is). It then has a chaotic opening for voices, and noise like sounds (acoustic, rather than electronic). As the piece progresses there is more improvised vocal material, and improvised like playing of recordings of the rubber bands. Through this CD deals with a lot of improvised sounds, lots of voice material and computer based improvisations. At times I thought it was very nice, but then some of the vocal improvisations just didn't seem to be doing it for me. See: I can't make up my mind. (FdW) Address:

Composer Jurg Frey (1953) composes music for all sorts of instruments, mainly violin, cello and piano. His main, important thing is silence, near quietness and spacious sound. He also composes for non-instruments, such as metal, stones, air, as is the case with the piece 'Metall, Stone, Skin,  Foliage, Air (1996-2001)', which he composed for the Manifold Percussion Quartet, but performed here by one player, the ever so active percussionist Nick Hennies. Now this raises a question: did Hennies reduce the work to one player or is this a case of multi-tracking and playing all the parts himself? I assume its the latter, and that Hennies is someone who is only doing the real performance of a score. I'd be curious to see the score of this piece actually. The whole work lasts about seventy minutes and its not always clear that we are listening to percussion music. In fact that goes for pretty much of the 2/3 of this release. Say somewhere after the twenty-five minute mark things go into a very silent mode, with what seems 'air' like sounds from sources unknown. About ten minutes later, there is a louder segment in which the skin of a drum is being played; this kind of action returns a few times: very quiet near silent sounds, and highly obscured vaguely percussive playing. Only in the first twenty-five minutes we hear Hennies' trademark metallic ringing percussion. This work is excellently played, although hard to say whether the score is followed, but who cares (other than Frey perhaps)? This is a beautiful soft minimal percussion work that demands something from the listener - concentration especially during the quiet parts - but which also gives back a great Zen like experience. Hennies is a busy man, but so far I didn't hear a bad work by him. (FdW)

INFINITE DECIMALS - 2.54421781... (CDR by Dreamland Recordings)
A trio here of one Barnaby on guitar and piano, Don on bass and drums and Paul responsible for live visuals, which I believe is an equally important member. A video of the first track will be released on the DVD version of this CDR '2.54421781', but was delivered separatly. The CDR has two short pieces and one very long. The title piece reminded me of the Spartak and 3Ofmillions, both also Australian, and on the verge of free jazz in a more traditional setting. The first short piece is more like shoegazing drone piece and the long piece like an extended version thereof. I am told that the piece is their first studio recording using piano and percussion, but perhaps its not what they usually sound like, as this is their third release already. The first and third piece are quite ambient like, stemming from the world of postrock (think Windy & Carl rather than Tortoise) and it works all quite nice. Slowly evolving, minimalist changes, with sustaining sounds on the guitar and bass. Drums seem to be absent in both these pieces, as well as piano. The video that goes along with the first track shows black and white field footage, which works well with the music, especially since it forms a contrast: the slowness of the music versus the hectic swift moving images. Would be interesting to see this band play live. (FdW) Address:


MICHAEL JOHNSEN & PASCAL BATTUS - BITCHE SESSION (cassette by Organized Music From Thessaloniki)
Work with Pascal Battus was reviewed before in Vital Weekly, so we know that he usually works in the field of what is usually called improvised music. Usually on table-top guitars, but on this recording he plays 'magnetic pick-ups' and teams up with Michael Johnsen, of whom, I think, never heard before. He plays 'electronics, saw' and the recording was made in Nantes at Bitche (hence the title) in December 2009. Highly improvised music, spanning two sides of the cassette. Instruments seem absent, and are replaced by the pick up which perhaps is dragged along the surface and the electronics of Johnsen which sound like chemicals eating away electronics of cheap toys. It makes the recording apart from highly improvised also quite electronic in approach. The sounds bounces back forth between loud en quiet, in a vibrant manner. You realize this is the work of improvised music, but it has some great dynamics, noisy perhaps, yet also precise and detailled. A true feast for the ears this release. Great scratchy improvised music, bursting with energy. (FdW) Address:


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