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Vital Weekly 789

img  Tobias Fischer

SANDRO CODAZZI (CD by Black Fading)
About an hour before I left for a week away, this CD arrived. Actually more arrived, but such words as 'electro-pop' made me copy this onto my ipod so I could listen to it in a more relaxed atmosphere. Sandro Codazzi, born in 1978, is inspired by German pioneers of the seventies, Italo disco, Commodore 64 music and analog synthesizers. Now while I think that this is hardly the kind of music that fits Vital Weekly, I must (secretly? hardly, as I am writing about it here) admit that I quite enjoyed this. As I was cooking meals last week for a larger group, music like this was playing all day. House, techno, electro - anything with a nice beat. Codazzi uses also a lot of vocoder vocals, New Order like bass sounds and fine hooks. What can I say? Nothing for Vital Weekly? Perhaps so indeed, but do I like this? Hell, yes, I do. The best pop stuff in ages. (FdW) Address:


1000SCHOEN - YOSHIWARA (2CD by Nitkie) *
FIRST HUMAN FERRO - HOMO SHARGEY (CD by New Nihilism, Requiem Productions and Triangle Records)
Back in Vital Weekly 565 1000Schoen's 'Yoshiwara' CD was reviewed by NM and he wrote: ""Yoshiwara" is also the name of a prostitute area of the 17 th century's Tokyo just like it was the name of the nightclub in Fritz Lang's movie "Metropolis" (1927) where the main character Maria worked as an exotic dancer. This very interesting album by German composer 1000Sch¯en could well be the soundtrack for a 21 st century's edition of the Fritz Lang's legendary futuristic movie. Taking its starting point in the world of ambience the intense work circulates in sonic worlds of buzzing noise drones and otherworldly spheres of melodic beauty. Thus being both dramatic and harmonic in expression the album changes between short tracks and long conceptual tracks with the third track (all tracks are untitled!) clocking 26+ minutes. "Yoshiwara" is a remarkable work of experimental ambient. With these three very different albums, Kafue Systeme, demonstrates its wide approach to electronic sound, and the musical quality is in all three cases impressively high!" In this re-issue the tracks do have titles and I can add that 1000Schoen is the project of Helge Siehl, the third member of Maeror Tri, who went solo when the others became Troum. This re-issue has a bonus CD with twenty-four minutes, two tracks with some more excellent excursions into the world of drone music. Very much along the lines of Maeror Tri/Troum, both the disc that was recorded in 2006 and the bonus disc (no recording date). 1000Schoen doesn't have the same recognition yet as Troum, but its about time that changes.
From the Ukrain hails First Human Ferro, of whom I never heard and his 'Stardust' CD is dedicated to the first man in space, this year 50 years ago. Among all the space talk, the only thing I recognized was however Neil Armstrong ramble about small steps. The link between electronic music and space deserves a lengthy book, I should think, from 'Forbidden Planet' to, well, perhaps anything from that until CDs like this. Lots of synthesizers obviously on this release, which apparently was six years in production. This one only drifts partly into the world of cosmic music, with not that much rolling thunderous arpeggio's, but stays more in the safe world of drone and atmospherics, ambient with the A. There is also touches towards the more dark world of gothic music, due to the fact of heavenly choirs of female voices, which weren't necessarily well spend on me. The space theme runs through the album, but not always in every track. Maybe it was used to sell the album to celebrate Yuri Gagarin's space travel? A pretty decent album, I thought. Not the best of his kind, for it lacks that necessary thing that makes it highly original, but maybe with great care for detail.
Lo and behold, two days later I receive another CD release by First Human Ferro, with more space is the place. As far as I can judge there is no such direct thematic approach to this one as with the other (although the press text talks about some engineer from Russia, but there is no evidence in the music), but the music is likewise quality. This one seems altogether more eerie, dwelling heavily on the sounds of organs, played in long waving and sustaining sounds, drenched at times in too much reverb. There are no voice samples from flight control on this one. Like with the other one, I thought this was another fine example of atmospheric ambient drone music of a more darker side of the moon. Still not the most original but pretty consistent.


FACTOR X - 022 (CD by Monochrome Vision)
MYSTERY HEARSAY - FLESH TOMB (CD by Monochrome Vision)
Monochrome Vision works with the 'old' guys. People that have been around since the 80s, sometimes disappeared and always came back. Moving from cassettes to CDs, and in black and white covers. Shaun Robert started Factor X in 1983 already, following another start in 1979. Throughout the 80s he has released a great number of tapes and for whatever reason '022' from 1985 was a particular favorite of his, and perhaps of Monochrome Vision. In those days he used two tape decks to play sounds from, and record them on the third tape-deck. A method we call 'ping pong' and which leaves, when repeated considerable tape hiss. That seems to be removed from this release. Factor X uses a bunch cheap casio sampling keyboards, with that one second sampling time, but which could be transposed down and added with basic sound effects made a decent noise. A fine reminder of those old, and happy days this is. I am not sure if I heard '022' back in the days, but surely it reminds me of other Factor X releases. Lo-fi, at times too long, but the cut-up collage of sounds and spoken word is actually quite nice. I wouldn't opt for a complete CD set of his entire career, but every now and then: sure, why not?
Whereas Factor X was even bootlegged in recent years - always a mark of long lasting quality - Mystery Hearsay wasn't. No lesser quality however from this hometaper - as the lingo of the day was - also known as Mike Honeycutt. He went on to produce other things later on, such as Mystery X, Mystery Iguana, and part of Wilt, but Mystery Hearsay seemed to have gathered dust. This CD, in fact a re-issue of a tape release called 'Flesh Tomb' plus bonus material from a net release from 2007 (which is which is not clear from the cover). Without wanting to say much about the quality of the music, the quality of the recording is of an entirely nature than the Factor X one, i.e. something that seems at least more professional. One of those typical mid-80s things was the arrival of what was called 'ambient industrial': music that was too loud to fully downright ambient, but also not loud enough to be classified as industrial. Hence ambient industrial and that's exactly the field of Mystery Hearsay's music. Lots of guitar/synth manipulations, along with percussive, metallic sounds and tons of sound effects to manipulate them. Like with a lot of these 80s things its not the composition that counts but the mood created, so it sometimes gets off the rails and takes a bit too much time to be fully interesting. But this is another great reminder of the young FdW at home listening to tapes, and one who fully forgot that Mystery Hearsay was actually a great band. Long forgotten, but thankfully resurrected.
Someone who was never 'away' and who is not really, as far as I know, from the 80s, but more from the 90s and onwards is Slavek Kwi, better known as Artificial Memory Trace. Never made it really big, and his releases are wide and far apart. This particular new release is, as you might have guessed, about sounds captured in the Amazone, where Kwi was in 2007. Originally for an installation, but now brought back to stereo. The cover details pretty in depth what we are hearing and that there is hardly any form of sound processing going on. What we hear is what we get. Artificial Memory Trace (along with Toy Bizarre one of the few guys who still hangs on to his 'band name' thing) creates an excellent sound scape of animal sounds (birds, insects but also fish), water sounds and basically the entire environment. While there is not much sound processing, Artificial Memory Trace uses extensive layering of sound events which makes up a strong listening session. While marveling over this beauty I was thinking: Goddamn, why is this guy so unknown?
Simon Whetham I would definitely classify as now, being someone from after 2000, and there is place for him too on Monochrome Vision, whose every fourth or so release is by someone who is 'now' and not 'then'. His double CD has two works that were commissioned by painter Kathryn Thomas while the second CD is basically a remix CD by friends of source material from those two works. The paintings are inspired by the 'infinity of the cosmos'. In Vital Weekly 687 I already reviewed a sort of first version - ur-version if you will - from the two pieces that are now on this CD. The first piece, 'Lightspace' should be played in a big space (where do I find one?), while the second one, 'Darkerspace' has no such restrictions. I played both at home. Like 'Lightyears', the previous release, there is a bit of piano in 'Lightspace', which brings it back to influences of modern composers, along with lots of string sounds. I am not sure where he got these violin like sounds, as Whetham is best known as a composer of music dealing with field recordings. removed are the Nasa flight control sounds and a fine ambient piece remains, and one that I think is better than 'Lightyears'. The other one is, as said, 'Darkerspace' and this is the more moody piece obviously. Its not easy to say wether those strings are pitched down or perhaps something else. This piece is a total contrast to the other one and as such it works pretty well.
And then there is the remix project, the 'friends' part of this. I think I talked about this before and I'll do it again: I am not sure for whom project like these are. Other of course than the musicians involved and give them something to do. None of these twelve artists do something that stand out very much from the original (either the two pieces on disc one or the original disc from years ago), except perhaps for Scanner who adds beats to it. That's it: add beats, make a singer song writer strum along out of it, reggae, heavy metal, HWN, something like it, but not make it more of the same. In the old marketing techniques you had The Orb remixing U2, since U2's record company wanted to look cool and sell records to the fans of The Orb - that is what remixes should be all about. But these eleven 'deconstructions', as they are called on the cover, are more 'reconstructions', 'variations on a theme' than thorough remixes. Nice enough, but who for? I just heard the remix by the artist himself and that was alright for me. Included are Fourm, Richard Lainhart, Philippe Petit, Mise_en_scene, Maile Colbert, Scanner, Christopher McFall, David Wells, Iris Garrelfs, Yann Novak, Lawrence English and John Kannenberg. A nice bonus. (FdW)


The career of Jasmina Guffond, also known as Jasmina Maschina, started with the duo Minit, playing at first some kind of electronic drone music, but later on with a more pop like version there of, and an excellent collaboration with Osso Exotico and then a solo album under the current moniker, 'The Demolition Series' (see Vital Weekly 618), and now a second one also on staubgold. In the meantime I saw Jasmina Maschina play live and decided to like it even more, while at the same time I realize its still not really my cup of tea. Maschina plays guitar and sings, just like in the good folk tradition, but at the same time it is of course not really folk music. Maschina adds elements of noise in 'Noise Is Noise And Feelings Are Feelings' and most other songs have traces of minimal music to them, through endless strumming and sustaining drone like sounds. I think I liked this one even more than the previous, but perhaps that's because I saw the concert which sometimes helps. Nice psychedelic (reminding this particular reviewer of The Use Of Ashes), with an experimental layer over it all, but still quite based in rock music, and at the same time not rock at all. Very very nice. (FdW)


Of these three performers me thinks that Steve Beresford is the best known one. Best known as an improviser with Derek Bailey, Alterations, Portsmouth Sinfonia but also The Flying Lizards. His instruments are piano, trumpet, euphonium, double bass and toys, but on this recording just credits 'electronics' to his name. Drummer/percussionist Stephen Flinn plays, along with Z'EV, in the Cutmen, but also with Jaap Blonk, Lol Coxhill, Phil Minton and other. Dave Tucker was a member of The Fall in the early 80s, but after moving to London he is involved with improvised music, which he serves with his electric guitar. 'Ink Room' is a spontaneous improvisation which comes unedited. Maybe cut here and there to mark the seven pieces, but nothing more it seems. This results is some highly vibrant music, bouncing roughly in all corners of the room. Tucker's spikey guitar sounds, Beresford's electronics loud and noisy at times, soft and careful at other times, while Flinn seems to be the more traditional improviser, holding matters together with loosely played sounds, but rather conventional it seems. An excellent ride this one. Quite energetic and never a dull second around here. (FdW)


Every now and then I am happy to receive music by Knitting By Twilight, even when, objectively, it should be noted that this music is hardly in the right place in Vital Weekly. More and more Knitting By Twilight is a solo project by John Orsi, with occasional help of Manny Silva and Mike Marando. On this new release, they are on the move again. Whilst the previous 'Riding The Wayback' (see Vital Weekly 687) was a bit more rock like and improvised, structures on this new one are more tight and less rock-like and more dwelling on percussive sounds. Orsi plays most of the percussive bits, very well present in all eight tracks, as well as bits of keyboard, while the two others fill in with layered drones of guitars. Throughout the music is very vibrant, minimal in approach, with ethnic like drumming and dark, present drones. Perhaps, this is the release that brings Knitting By Twilight more into the realms of Vital Weekly? I quite enjoyed this one, perhaps even the best I heard from them so far. (FdW)


DMDN - AGONISTES (LP by Supreme Tools Supplies)
Somewhere in this HQ which I call home, I have folder with ancient letters, very early ones, when I wrote to people who ran cassette labels. The very first letter, if you open up the folder, is from a guy named Sjak, who had a label called A Tapes, dealing with punk music. In the second or so letter he tells me he changed the name of his label to Midas Tapes, later Midas Music, and then to Supreme Tools Supplies for his more rocky/noisy agenda. I am still in contact with Sjak, after more than thirty years and if you are ever in Tilburg, The Netherlands visit his Antenne record store. Somewhere in the late 80s, early 90s Sjak started calling himself DMDN (which is still his DJ name, preceded by DJ of course) and did some pretty intense cassettes of noise. 'Agonistes' was a tape released by GROSS in 1994 and for reasons I don't know (yet. I will ask him next time I see him), he dug out that tape and released it on his own Supreme Tools Supplies label in an edition of 260 copies. Well, actually, knowing him pretty well, its obvious that he likes this release so much that he deems it worth putting out on vinyl, his preferred choice of format. There was a time that noise was my daily bread. Those were the days that I saw Sjak a lot more, but when I played this record today, I thought that I couldn't figure out how he created his own noise music. I assume short wave radio and synthesizers, some digital delay effects and lots, lots of layering. Noise is no longer my cup of coffee, but every now and then I like to play some of that, and mainly, like a fine old chap, from somebody I know and love. Merzbow from time to time, and then also 'Agonistes' is right up my alley. If you like Merzbow's noise onslaughts, then this is surely one of those records you like to. Relentless, loud, vicious, distorted. Play loud I'd say, but then you might have guessed that already. A most welcome re-issue. Now for his other solo stuff! (FdW)


Once you are up there, as a label whose taste sets the tone of the day, you can get away with it. That's at least what I was thinking when I was playing this record by a Russian band called Phurpa, led by Alexei Tegin. He studied traditional ritual music of Egypt, Iran and Tibet, of Buddhist and Bon liturgies. It would be too far to repeat all the historical information Mego provided, but Phurpa uses all the instruments of Tibet such as the dunchen, gyaling, silnyen, bub, damaru, kanling, nga and shang as well as the 'rgyud-skad tradition of Tantric overtone chanting'. I was thinking that Mego must have gone insane, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Stephen O'Malley writes a few words, and that makes it more clearer, as I can see it for him to be a logical extension of what he does with drone music, a kind of ritual. Now, over the years I wrote about ritual music before, and one of my points would be it is hard to understand if you are not part of the culture where the ritual comes from, and perhaps there is also a skeptical side of me that never easily believes these things to be genuine. But somehow, I must admit, that this was all very convincing and while I didn't engage in any sort of buddhist thing while listening (but my more usual activities of staring out of the window, reading a few pages, listening and thinking about the music - all of which surely is not the right thing to do) it was all strongly captivating. Very dark, all this chanting and probably indeed best enjoyed in complete darkness. (FdW) Address:


On Spectrum Spools, Mego's new imprint for cosmic music, a follow up to 'Canzoni Dal Laboratoria Del Silenzio Cosmico' by Chris Madak, also known as Bee Mask. He plays synthesizers, percussion, piano, guitar, tape, electronics and max/msp. he's been around for years and has released a whole bunch of limited edition releases on cassettes and CDRs - say when cosmic doodling wasn't as popular as it is now. But no doubt due to the success of his previous record for Spectrum Spools, he is now invited to compile a record with the best of the old days, spread out over two slabs of vinyl. It sees a continuation of the previous record in a way that Bee Mask is not your pure arpeggio kraut meister, but expands his view more, to the works of modern electronic music, the Lovely music catalogue of David Behrman and Gordon Mumma. Stretching out drones like sustaining tunes, with small intervals of oscillators running wild and what seems to be percussive sound, also created on synthesizers. Psychedelica meets the planet of the apes. An excellent choice, me thinks, and hopefully another successful release for Bee Mask with more to follow. This is some mighty fine mood music. Interstellar overdrive.
The other new record is by Temporal Marauder. I read the entire story on the press release, penned by one Michael Ferrer and its crap. Some guy named Jean Logarin, who did this stuff in the seventies, passed the reels on to Guerino Raglani, uncle of Joseph Raglani and he got the band name and thought of titles. Ja ja ja. "And to those who will inevitably question if Logarin himself is real, the only straight answer is that we have his music. How could he not be real?" Obviously. So Joseph Raglani did another record as Temporal Marauder and for the first time its not the sort of cosmic music excursion for Spectrum Spools. Or perhaps: not quite. At the basis of the pieces lie a bunch of drum machines, which are quite fast and on top, synthesizers do their freak out, but its all a bit too weird to be fully downright neo-cosmos music. A bit too fucked up. But its nice for sure. Not much time seem to have been spend on the recording of the music, which sounds a bit dull, like captured on a cassette, but perhaps/no doubt this is intentional to make it sound 'old' and 'covered with dust'. A little different than the others so far on this label and surely as nice. Despite all the nonsense. (FdW) Address:


It seems that Bocian Records only releases 7"s these days and that they have a soft spot for improvised music from down under. Following Sean Baxter's 7" from a month ago, here is Robin Fox, an improviser from the world of electronic music, playing laptop and on one side entirely EMS VCS3. Two pieces that sound hardly improvised, but more composed. The 'More Impossible Futures' on the a-side is a more introspective piece of various layers of electronics sounds, which are put together in a rather gentle way. 'Drift Compression' on the other, the EMS piece, is something of a beast: loud, vicious, bouncing in all directions, sharp and angular. Two excellent sides and to me it seems that Fox composed both with the idea of a 7" in mind, and not present them as outtakes of a longer whole, which is sometimes the case with these sort of things. Very nice. (FdW) Address:


Among the historical scandals in music best known are Stravinsky's 'Rite Of Spring' and Varese's 'Deserts', both of them meeting public hostility. Mathieu Saladin is a french conceptual composer, who likes ideas perhaps more than music. Here he releases a disc in which we hear bits of the music, from the original premiere recording in 1954, but only those bits in which the audience is very noisy: booing, hissing, shouting, which happened mainly in the pre-recorded bits, as this Varese work is divided in orchestral bits and pre-recorded sounds. A totally strange release, but also quite captivating, like most of Saladin's work, raising questions about scandals and about 'new' music. Perhaps not the sort of thing to put in your player on a daily basis, especially with the first ten minutes not much happening, but a fine art item anyway.
Which can also be said of the release by Dworkin and Fowler: another blank disc (two in a week, coincidence?), with ink on the surface of what a CDR is, what ink is, in scientific terms. Poetry no doubt. One to scare of your guests. An excellent collaboration! (FdW) Address:


NOSESOUL - N (cassette by Collezione Del Silenzio)
MARIBOR - X (cassette by Collezione Del Silenzio)
GIANLUCA BECUZZI - B (cassette by Collezione Del Silenzio)
More releases in the Italian alphabet series. I never heard of Nosesoul (and none of these cassettes have any information), so we have just the music. Nosesoul play some very reduced ambient music, with not a lot of moving sound events. Quite static drone music, with a sort of vaguely rumbling percussive undercurrents. I haven't quite figured out wether both sides are to be seen as one piece, or two seperate ones, but in either case I thought this was a great release.
Maribor is likewise unknown to me, and his (her?) release is more upfront, even moves into a more louder, at times mildly distorted landscape. I think here we have a bunch of guitars, effects and some keyboards. Dealing less with the notion of 'silence' (altough I think that is not a necessary thing for releases per se in this series), this is a more 'present' release, but not always for the best. I think some of the ideas are a bit too easy and could have been worked out better.
Gianluca Becuzzi has had various releases of his own and usually in a more ambient/drone/microsound field. Its good to see him move away from that with a somewhat more experimental release. Lots of this seem to evolving around elements from the world of percussion on steel, which reminded me of some of Z'EVs earlier records, in which he used both studio techniques and percussion. This too is a somewhat more noise based release, or at least less ambient and more experimental, but Becuzzi knows how to capture both a fine mood as well as some captivating sounds, and mould that into a fine composition. (FdW) Address:


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

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