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Vital Weekly 783

img  Tobias Fischer

The name Seth Horvitz didn't ring any bell straight away, but the press text informs me he used to work as Sutekh since the mid 90s and that he had releases on Soul Jazz, Orthlorng Musork, Force Inc/Mille Plateaux, so I must have heard it in those days, but still nothing to remember. I must dig somewhere. Horvitz comes from the world of techno, but he also studied electronic music at Mills College. In this light we must see this new release, under his own banner, on Line. The automatic piano is something he build himself and stands in the tradition of the player piano, made famous by Conlon Nancarrow. By making it automatic you can play the most crazy pieces, beyond human control. Through the website of Line you can download the scores to the pieces, and more notes about the project. Always nice to watch and read such things, even if one doesn't always understand what this is about. Not being able to play the piano myself - despite a six month training when I was eleven - I can safely say that not all of these pieces would be difficult to play. Horvitz didn't set out to program the automatic piano 'to play as many notes as in humanly impossible'. In some cases, such as in 'Tentacles' or 'Strumming Machine' this is surely the case, but in 'Bells' its not. But that piece has a bell-like precision to one key played. All eight pieces are from the world of modern classical music, a far cry from the original Line releases, but perhaps also a logical expansion. I thought it was a great release of some interesting piano music in the realm of computers: just exactly what we like Line for. (FdW) Address:

What on earth am I doing inside the house? The sun is bursting, with a totally friendly temperature, which scream: walk! walk! walk! But no, I am inside, listening to music. Music made with the use of field recordings to be precise, as is certainly the case with the first piece by Chris Watson. Entirely recorded in the Kalahari desert, from sunset to sunrise, but then trimmed down to twenty-eight minutes. A remote area, where most of the wildlife is awake at night - with lots of insect chirping and buzzing. Its almost an electronic piece of music, which I guess is exactly why this is such a great piece of music. With much of the field recording artists who merely capture the environment, Watson takes it all a step further and actually composes with those sounds into quite a captivating piece of music. No by looping sounds, or putting on fancy plug-ins, but merely a process of editing and fading. Simple but difficult in order to create such an overwhelming mass of sound. And masses of sounds is also what's happening on the second piece, which is by Watson and one Marcus Davidson. It explores the vocal harmonies between humans and honey bees. Watson is here responsible for the field recordings used (which he did with label honcho Mike Harding), while Davidson gets the credit as composer. The bee choir consists of five human voices, who buzz like bees. If you are melissophobic then this will surely be a scary piece. A lovely CD of music derived from nature, as well as an interaction of human activity and animal sounds. Now its time to go out and the hear the real action. (FdW) Address:

The name Andrea Pensado is entirely new to me, but this Argentinean composer has been around for some time. She studied music in Argentina and Krakow (Poland) where she lived for ten years, until moving back to Argentina in 1997; currently she lives in the USA. She works with laptop and voice. The laptop runs max/msp and the voice recites texts, but also acts as a 'signal processor and controller'. The seven pieces on 'Ktotam' are all improvised. Careful is not a word that springs to mind straight away. Its not until the fifth track, 'El Careta', that she pulls back a bit. Up until then, things have been pretty loud. The mastering is done by Jeff Carey, and if one is familiar with his music, than you may have an idea where to place Pensado's music: quite loud and vicious, noise based improvisations. Very digital, meaning it scratches the entire surface, loud versus soft, low end bass versus high end piercing frequencies. A voice as such is hard to recognize, nor any texts that are spoken - or not of course. Music like that Skiff++ or Office-R(6): one that is not strictly noise, but quite loud and very dynamic. Even at 'just' forty minutes this is quite a heavy, breath taking affair. You leave somewhat tired, yet satisfied behind. (FdW) Address:


CREATION (CD compilation by Vetvei)
I believe I once saw a concert by Lunar Abyss Deus Organum, open air, small square in St. Petersburg, in which the surrounding sounds of the environment (cars, people walking and talking, birds) added a sort of nice texture to the proceedings on the small stage. I don't recall if it was an one man band, or more, but perhaps that was due to the nature of the afternoon when this took place: some ad-hoc bands were formed and played. There was an amount of instruments on stage, all filed under 'electronics' and a microphone for some kind of overtone singing. Not this concert, but three others were moulded into one forty-two minute piece of music, which is on the release 'Tryakusta', all from july last year. Lunar Abyss Deus Organum has that sort of sound that ties ambient and industrial firmly together: many layers of electronic sounds, a sort of overtone singing and field recordings. Once the mighty wheel is in motion, this goes on and on, in a positive manner. A full on drone sound that lasts for the entire forty two minutes. Maybe we hear three concerts at once I thought. Quite a refined work.
The next new release on Vetvei is a compilation of three groups. Two groups are one-man affairs, Vresnit (who gets credit for 'creation') and Kshatriy ('capture, transformation and manifestation') and Bardoseneticcube (which I believed was an one man project, but you see I am wrong again), a three piece of 'soundkonstrukto, overtone singing and vocal'. The latter open up with two tracks of nicely mellow electronic music, beautiful female vocals (in Russian) and no doubt some sort of processed overtone singing. The other five pieces, two by Kshatriy, one by Vresnit and two by them together, are more 'alike': its hard to tell the difference between them, in the next four tracks. Quite nice ambient/drone/atmospheric music is in play here, with deep space synthesizers, lots of sustain and field recordings. The CD closes with a solo piece by Vresnit, which is a like the preceding four, but with a slightly more orchestral feel to it. No doubt sampled together but it breaks away from the more esoteric, heavenly synths and is therefor a fine piece to end it all. Nice compilation!
On CDR we find a collaboration between two projects from Arkhangelsk, Six Dead Bulgarians and Ogni Videniy, which translates as Fires Of Images. The work was recorded on february 13 and 14 2010, 'when a 2137 moon year began'. Maybe this will give you some clue as to what this is all about: vaguely ritualistic music, made with metal, singing bowls, wooden percussion, jews harp, sand, voice and some electronic devices, by which they mean wind like sounds from a synthesizer. Although ritualistik music (pseudo, quasi or real) is not my cup of tea, I thought this was all quite alright, although not great. I can see why it was released on CDR in a much smaller edition than the other two: unknown bands playing some improvised clutter of percussion sounds and metal scraping in a serious mood. And mood music it is: you need to be in a certain one, to fully experience this. Its the sort of mood I find myself in at times, but then rarely listening to this kind of music. Maybe I lack the space here, as I can imagine this best heard in caves and cathedrals. Also places I am not likely to visit. But surely also a fine experience. (FdW) Address:


STEVE MOORE - DEMO 2003 (LP by Hlava Temple)
Back in Vital Weekly 756 I was first introduced to the music of Steve Moore, not to be confused with others with the same name. This Steve Moore is one-half of Zombie and works also as Lovelock. Under his own name he plays very retro synthesizer music. That's what he did on 'Primitive Neural Pathways', the only other work I heard from him, and that's what he is doing here. This album was already recorded in 2003, as a demo, but now, perhaps thanks to the cosmic music being the next big thing, released on LP and quite rightly so. It starts out with a Keith Emerson fat lick on the synth, which made me worry a bit, but quite soon he moves into arpeggio's, ribbon bend synthesizer melodies and moody oscillators. Drum machines are pretty absent on this album. Throughout it also seems that the tone of this album is a bit darker than on the previous album, with just a touch more of drone/ambient influences and a dash of experimentalism, while retaining throughout its psychedelic, cosmic, krauty character. Excellent music for those who can't get enough of Tangerine Schulze in their more experimental moods.
Also from Rashomon I reviewed a work before, 'The Finishing Line' on Hinterzimmer Records (see Vital Weekly). Rashomon is Matt Thompson, for whom the website lists as instruments: "Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, guitars, bass, zither, bowed psaltery, percussion, MiniMoog, Moog Taurus bass pedals, jaw harp, harmonium, autoharp and some other stuff". The subtitle of his record is 'Film Music Volume 3', which is hardly a coincidence: the previous had soundtrack like qualities too. This new one takes matters a bit further, and each of the eight piece deals with a film, of which I am sad to say I didn't see any (not even heard of any of these). Apparently none of this films were actually finished. Odd. Just like his CD, Rashomon takes the listener on a bizarre musical journey. References made by the label include Ennio Morricone, Goblin, Popol Vuh and Bohren und der Club of Gore to which I like to add again, Nurse With Wound. Krautrock like, montage styled collages of sound, banging rock structures, swirling organs, jazzy, minimal music and maximal music. Trip music that works well, even without any filmic reference. An absolute fine record. Sadly there is just 150 copies made. Maybe I should ask for a CD re-issue straight away? (FdW)


LEIF ELGGREN - SOMETHING LIKE SEEING IN TE DARK (booklet by Firework Edition Records)
In December last year an event took place as a farewell to the Greek label and organizer Absurd. A few days of musical activities by some long term comrades, among which we found Leif Elggren. He performed a fourteen minute using his voice and his own text (and 'dance', according to the credits), along with Kostis Kilymis on electronics and objects. Perhaps as a thank you to Absurd, this piece is now released Elggren's Firework Edition as an one-sided LP. Quite a noise piece here, which is perhaps something I didn't expect. Loud distorted noise of some obscured objects moving/hitting/destroying, along with a bunch of sound effects and Elggren's voice somewhere on top. Its not easy to understand what these texts about, but they might just very well be printed in the companion release 'Something Like Seeing In The Dark', a booklet with texts, used on several occasions throughout 2007, which on paper do not make much sense either, but then who am I to judge texts of a poetic nature. Its perhaps a thing to read when you are listening to the music can get some sort of sensory overload from it. The harsh music, the 'singing'/'speaking' and all along you try to read the text. Almost like a lethal dose of information. (FdW)


MARK FELL - MANITUTSHU (double 12" by Editions Mego)
Earlier this year Mark Fell was asked to deliver some sounds for a new software synthesizer by some company and whilst working on it, he decided to 'rework his UL8 project by extending the pattern generation systems used in its construction, which he then connected to the sounds produced in Erik Wiegand's (Errorsmith and the guy who asked him to do the sounds for the soft-synth) synthesizer. I am not sure what we are then given, but surely some kind of remix of 'UL8' (see Vital Weekly 760). If that Hecker CD is about randomness then so is Mark Fell's remix of his own work. Like the original CD, this all sounds like dance music, but somehow this is not really dance music. There is no deep bass end, lots of mid-range frequencies, lots of rhythmic keyboards and not always rhythm patterns from drum machines (all, I assume, from the world of software synthesis). Nine short tracks, with odd voice snippets thrown in. The D-side of this record is used for a remix by Mat Steel, Fell's buddy from SND (and less active it seems when it comes to solo music, at least releasing it). His piece seems much more structured, but nervous and hectic, very much like the recent SND material. The cover says play at 45 rpm, but surely I recommend 33 on all four sides also. An excellent record. (FdW) Address:


The third collaboration between Ian Holloway - UK's man of drones and Banks Bailey, a field recordist influenced by the early works of Monos. The two previous ones (see Vital Weekly 635 and 708) already showed us the way: a fine combination of what we know both men for. The field recordings of Bailey are delicate here, birds and insects (no locations are mentioned here), and Holloway has his trademark organ sound. On 'Silent Spring', his last offering (see Vital Weekly 775), things seemed a little harsher than before, but maybe I was deluded to think that would be a new direction. The organ like sounds as delicate as on his earlier work. This release is best enjoyed, I found out, when listened to with doors and windows wide open and have your environment as part of this music (alright, providing you don't live downtown Manhattan - in that case make sure you everything is closed firmly, or use headphones), adjust volume so that you still hear the organ droning away, but its becomes hard to say which field recordings are from Bailey and which are 'real'. It worked fine here in this quiet neighborhood. No surprises to be found here, but excellently produced. (FdW) Address:

A melodeon is a diatonic button accordion, in case you were wondering about that, and its played here by Richard Sanderson. He is a member of Ticklish, Minnow and has duos with Mark Spybey and Steve Beresford. As the title suggests these are works of improvisation. There are three approaches to playing the melodeon here: entirely acoustic, sometimes with the addition of bells, music box and a dictaphone. Secondly by feeding it through computer software (Audiomulch) and live playing using foot-pedals and amplification. This variety is shown on this album. Indeed all three varieties are shown here and make some remarkable music. 'Parsec' sounds like curious mixture of microsound and improvisation, followed by 'Five Small Stones' and 'Desorbering', which sound like full on, careful improvisations. Field recordings, played through the dictaphone perhaps, slip through on 'Bottle City'. There is even some mild noise explosions in 'December Valves'. See, not a disc about one thing, but about many things, and this variety holds up for the entire length of the disc of an hour. Quite exciting for its entire duration. (FdW) Address:


LASSE MARHAUG & FRANCISCO MEIRINO (7" by Misanthropic Agenda)
This is the CDR version of a LP that was released by Misanthropic Agenda in a super small edition of 90 copies only, but then its twelve minutes longer than the LP. In recent times I became quite a fan of the music of Phroq, especially at the turning point when he calls himself by his own name. Maybe it has to do with my own private interest in a more noise based approach these days, but going back to the strictest harsh noise is not my cup of tea. What I do like is that fine combination of loud and soft. Meirino is one of those composers who does just that. Like the title of this suggests, he uses recordings of electric means that go wrong, broken cables, defective plugs, picking up magnetic fields and crackling tape hiss. Amplified to the max - at times - carefully low humming at other times. Sometimes looped around for a small amount of time, but then brutally interrupted by a loud burst and swiftly moving into something new. Excellent use of collage techniques here. I am not sure if I should regard getting this as a CDR and not as a LP, but somehow I think a CDR is better. No extra-static charges from the vinyl, and the dynamics are bright and neat.
Together with Lasse Marhaug, Meirino also recorded a 7", 'play at 33 or 45 rpm', with some medical theme. 'Flupentixol' is a swift montage (even at 33 rpm) of sounds glued together, like found sounds from old reel-to-reel tape snippets found on the floor. I thought I heard snippets of James Bond movies, but I might be wrong. The whole demontage of sounds reminded me of old Mixed Band Philantrophist LP, which acted in a similar craze. 'Lamotrigine' is less speedily collage of sounds, but a rather concentrated effort of magnetic fields, intercepted by electronic sounds towards the end and other sounds dropping in and out. It makes two entirely different sides, but together a great 7". (FdW)


ORPHAX - A ROOM WITH A VIEW (3"CDR by Striate Cortex)
A live recording from last year, on the day Sietse van Erve's (Orphax main man) had her birthday which he had to miss because of his concert. Now this release is dedicated to her. I am not sure what Orphax's sees through his window, but its not a static scenery. In the first six minutes he builds up a picture of industrial waste lands, and empty factories. Quite an unsettling picture, but the rest is a much more mellow drone like affair, which we perhaps now him best for. Here the room seems to be looking across a wide open landscape, green grass. A view from train more likely, I was thinking. We leave the city, and go out into the open, and the music is build from the train sounds (obviously I am making this all up of course). I especially liked the second half of the piece a lot. Dark spacious drone music! (FdW) Address:


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

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