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Vital Weekly 790

img  Tobias Fischer

Back in Vital Weekly 636 I reviewed the CD re-issue of the classic LP 'Netwerk' by XX Committee, ending on a hopeful note that their cassette should also be released on CD. My prayers have been heard, as here it is. To remind you: XX Committee was a duo of Scott Foust, which is him on guitar, bass and rhythm and Chris Scarpino on synth and guitar. Scarpino went into obscurity and Foust is best known as the man behind Idea Fire Company, Tart, The Tobacconists ('Smoking Is Green', as he's a profound smoker) and lots of other incarnations. The LP was released after the cassette, so now we can restore historical order. What The Twenty Committee does is get a drum sound running, and play minimalist sounds on top. On the LP it reaches a more refined sound, while on this tape things are far more roughly shaped, but the basic, classic XX Committee is already there. Classic industrial music that easily fits the early works of Esplendor Geometrico and Vivenza, much more than the UK power electronics of feedback and howl. Included here are an unreleased track as well as the only track that was released on a compilation ('Sex & Bestiality'), to complete the picture. An excellent, early classic, perhaps not as classic as 'Netwerk', but still a great one. Another more than welcome re-issue. (FdW)


SURREALESTATE - LACUNAE (CD by Acoustic Levitation)
Surrealestate is a collective that is active since 1996 in Los Angeles, after being first formed in 1977(!). The members of the present line up have interest in about all sorts of music that are around on this planet, and from these traditions they take their inspiration for their own musical endeavors. Featured on this album are Bruce Friedman (trumpet), Jonathon Grasse (guitar), Ken Luey (woodwinds), David Martinelli (drums), Jeff Schwartz (bass) and Charles Sharp (woodwinds, percussion). The ensemble performs also composed music from composers like Stockhausen, Coleman and Taylor. But for this release they present themselves in eight examples of collective improvisation, recorded live on two sessions in 2009. These improvisations demonstrate their very own language of improvisation associated with different contexts. In 'When Cassavetes hit Reagan', they sound at their most jazziest. Moreover the music recalls elements of oriental music, if only by the use of non-western instruments. Also they tap from modern composed music, but never in an obvious way. Influences are integrated into something that is very much of their own. Music that is beyond the music we know, and that springs from a very powerful source. This one is absolutely worth listening to. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


SEINO - FROZEN DUST (CD by Voice Of Silence)
Takumi Seino is a name you find every now and then in the columns of Vital Weekly. This time he released a duo cd with Motohiko Ichino (guitar). Like Seino, Motochiko Ichino is graduated from Berklee College of Music where he studied with Mick Goodrick and others. In 2001 he settled in Tokyo where he works as a teacher, performer and composer. He has two solo CDs out and works as a sideman for many bands.The cd  'Frozen Dust' contains two improvisations. The title piece takes 37 minutes and 'Water's Edge' about  9 minutes. Both pieces were recorded live in december 2009. 'Frozen Dust' is a fine relaxing and pastoral piece. Fine interplay by two very communicative and capable players.  Partly they make use of jazzy timbres, in other parts they abstract from these approaches for  a form of free improvising that is not connected to identifiable idioms.
Also on Next Order we wrote earlier in Vital Weekly. This has Takumi Seino in another context. Next Order is a quartet of two guitarists: Yuji Moto and Seino, with Atsutomo Ishigaki on drums and Hiroshi 'Gori' Matsuda  on drums. Again here everything is recorded live. The cd opens with a speedy and loud hardcore-like piece 'NDE?'. The next piece however 'Bearclaw' is a very relaxed jazzy piece, built around a beautiful motive.  Other pieces are a combination of both. This is what Next Order is about since they started in 2002. They combine the raw energy of rock, the virtuosity of jazz, plus free improvisation and funk.  But each piece departs from of these genres, with influences of the other genres popping up. In a track like 'L.C.M.' however they jump abruptly from one to another genre like we know it from bands like Naked City. With their clever use of musical conventions they built convincing musical pieces.  Also  the way they combine changing dynamics and contrasts is very well done.  Again two convincing and enjoyable works by Seino and his mates. (Dolf Mulder)


In Vital Weekly 742 we reviewed a bunch of releases on the label Droneskvadronen, which carried no information. Now they indulge in releasing a real CD, lovingly mastered by Jos Smolders, but again no information, no website or anything. Maybe somebody out there doesn't care about selling a CD? From what I gather is that one Drony Skvadrony is the man who mixed this together from sounds, which were send in by people like Arturas Bumsteinas, Einzelganger, Greta Aagre, Jan-M Iversen, Kaoss 99, Kredi Dubi, Lefterna, Monolab, Miguel A Garcia, Origami Boe, Presence, Roar Borge, Ronny Waernes, Sindre Bjerga, Sonisk Blodbad, Sound_00, T.E. Davey, Terje Paulsen, Tzesne and Yasushi Miura. All of this mixed into a seventy plus minute soundsscape, and the title here is the program: drone like music based on sustaining sounds and field recordings. A fine piece, mixed in a well-done manner by Skvadrony, but perhaps the whole thing being so faceless, makes it also less to easy to enjoy. Who did what, where, how? Maybe an online score? Maybe that whole anonymous thing is a bit too annoying for me. Nice CD though. Quite pleasant in all its darkness and moving textures. Never a dull minute. (FdW) Address:


One of those days where you wonder why the hell you got out of bed, since things break down, won't work and that one thing that you keep playing over and over, not knowing what to write. You could either go to bed early and forget that day, or cook a meal, pick up a comic and play something entirely different. In my case I choose that today, and it was that great CD by The Wild Swans, which helped me out yesterday getting up/waking up. The Wild Swans are a different cup of tea for Vital Weekly fans, or perhaps not your cup of tea at all. This early 80s band revived and did two great singles for this label before, two tracks which appear again here, including the great 'English Electric Lightning' and the band now has Les Pattinson of Echo & The Bunneymen in their middle along with Ricky Maymi (Brian Jonestown Massacre), and Mike Mooney (formerly of Spiritualized), along with founding member Paul Simpson. Twelve great rock songs, full of melancholy and despair, beautifully sung by Simpson, with great harmonies, slides and space. Don't look again at that broken harddrive, that awful website where nothing works right, but look at the clouds passing outside, eating dinner and trying to read that comic (Tin-tin In Tibet, speaking of hope and despair), with The Wild Swans just a bit too loud in the background. You couldn't feel better, but you have to put your avant-garde elitism behind you. Life is good. (FdW)


Perhaps inspired by Spectrum Spools and their releases into the area of cosmic/krautrock/synth music, Zeromoon decided to release the next album by Blue Sausage Infant on vinyl, and why not? Perhaps its the only true format for this kind of music, harking back to the seventies days when all of this was released on LPs only. Its also, I guess, because the music has drifted more towards the cosmic boys than on is two previous releases. If those where mixed affairs of drones, plunderphonics and krautrock, this new one is definitely more straight forward cosmic music, especially in 'Motion Parallax' with its nice bubbling arpeggio synth and mysterious voice. The title piece is a more straight forward stomping space rock piece, with guest drummer Michael Shanahan, guitarist Jeff Barsky, and percussionist Jason Mullinax. Think Neu!, Cluster, Hawkind or, if that's more familiar, an instrumental piece by The Legendary Pink Dots, while the closing piece 'Subferal' is a subtle menacing piece. Three excellent pieces of cosmic/krautrock like music, excellently produced and with great style and care. What more can you possibly want? (FdW) Address:


MANUEL MOTA (LP by Headlights)
A quick scan of recent Vital Weekly's learns that solo music by Manuel Mota is not reviewed a lot, certainly not in recent years. I remember the first time hearing his music, which blew me away. Very silent acoustic guitar music. I later learned that he was perhaps already part of a gang of musicians playing this kind of soft music, such as Taku Sugimoto (of whom I also didn't hear much in recent years), but I never lost appreciation for the music of Mota. Here, all of a sudden two LPs with his music. The one with no title is limited to 150 copies and the other to 200 copies. The untitled one is the most recent, recorded in two days in February and March 2011 on acoustic guitar. Lots of air in between these notes, but perhaps not throughout as sparse as some of his older music. Its however quite intense music; intense in all its sparseness. Excellent mood music.
The other album is also from tis year and according to the website for electric guitar, but that's something I could have guessed too. Otherwise this too doesn't have a lot of additional information. Essentially Mota plays similar music than to the other LP, but due to the sustain of the guitar, the space between notes gets a bit shorter, and it may seem there is more happening here; actually maybe it does. One could think that this is some kind of extreme blues music, but it stays far away from the blues idiom, doesn't cut right into your soul, but has a similar desolate character, especially if Mota starts having his feedback ring ding a little bit. I am not sure which record is the most intense - perhaps I can't make a choice there - or the most radical - ditto - but strictly personal speaking, I'd say I like the electric one best. Hard to say why, but its probably in the minor details. (FdW) Address:


JOE FRAWLEY - CARNIVAL (CDR by Joe Frawley Music)
Music by Joe Frawley is always more than welcome. Its intimate, radioplay like and deals with a great care of treatment of sound and words. This new one is no break with his past releases, but a continuation of what he has done before. Sparse piano tones, guitar playing, bits of keyboards, chopped up voice material lifted from third party sources and the voice of Melanie Skriabine reciting texts in English and French. All in a dreamlike state. Now, I think there are two ways to approach this: we judge this by what it is or we look at this as part of his catalogue of releases so far. If I'd go by the first then I have to say that this is a great release. Frawley's approach to his sounds and the ways he puts it together is great, reminding me easily of the best by Dominique Petitgand. Excellent release. But somehow I am more inclined to go the second route: by now we have heard various of his releases, which were all great, but maybe its time for a necessary step in his career. I suggested before a longer radio play kind of piece, around one theme or story; maybe that would be a next step, or perhaps go for more pop like pieces. With a talent like Frawley anything should be possible. (FdW) Address:


ZANDER/FIEBIG - RAUMPUNKTE (CDR by Attenuation Circuit)
Again three releases by Germany's Attenuation Circuit, this time all dealing with live recordings. The first is by Zander/Fiebig. Recently we reviewed Gerhard Zander's 3"CDR with Buddha Machines (see Vital Weekly 788). Buddha Machines are also subject of this live recording he made with labelboss Gerald Fiebig. He once did a 3" for Field Muzick (see Vital Weekly 633). The live recording here was made at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Augsburg, which is apparently quite a resonant hall, in which the sound gets very spacious. Several of these loop machines were set around the space and along they plays electronics, samples, prepared electric guitar and kalimba. The complete concert is on this CDR along with eleven 'small scale tests' at home. In these eleven, shorter pieces, things sound, relatively, at close range, and more or less a bit more loop based than on the actual recording. Then things sound truly spacious and far away, almost like an ambient recording of wind chimes recorded on the porch at night. I think just that would have been nice enough, but the process of the first eleven is also interesting to hear. Nice ambience, fine improvisations.
Behind Das Audiovisuelle Kollektiv we find the same Gerhard Zander, as well as Emerge (who also had releases on this label) and somebody named Eazy. Their concerts are audio visual affairs, although only the audio part, being a concert from last month in Augsburg, are released here. There is a division of labour: samples from breathing (Emerge) and prepared electric guitar (Zander) and visual (Eazy). These sound elements return in both pieces but are worked out differently. In both pieces there is room for silence. Of the two pieces I liked the first one best, where both instruments seem like melted together, rather then the more divided division of labour in the second. Both pieces are quite open ended and at times, despite the sparseness, a bit chaotic. Not bad but not the best I ever heard.
Fiebig returns on the third disc, which is a three way compilation with Emerge and Bruno Kliegl. The title translates as 'audible in color'. Fiebig uses a synthesizer, Kliegl the glass harmonica and Emerge, ever the sample man, samples painting tools. Paintings by Linda Bennani, Claudia Guldenschuh and Tine Klink are used as 'scores' and were shown when the music was performed. Each player plays one painting. Fiebig has three pieces, the others one. Fiebig's synthesizer piece weren't that interesting, quite a noisy and messy rumble of sounds. Kliegl glass harmonium piece was very nice, almost with a mediaeval sound, mediaeval and meditative. Emerge is also very much on top of things here, with what I think is the best piece I heard from him. Very silent, with only sparse sound elements being played, which sound like footprints in snow: lots of white and the irregular shaping of the print at times. An excellent piece. (FdW)


A teaser perhaps for the forthcoming album, this almost thirteen minute piece by Pollen Trio: Austin Buckett (piano, rhodes), Miroslav Buskovsky (percussion, angklung) and Evan Dorrian (drums, percussion). They are an avant-garde jazz trio, and, you know me, I don't like jazz very much. But I reviewed their '230509' CDR back in Vital Weekly 692, and I quite enjoyed that. Buskovsky replaced bass player Chris Pound, so the sound has changed a little again, being more percussive, with Buckett's piano playing freely some melodies. In the second half there is some nasty bass like sound and makes this piece more heavy than the more light hearted first half. This piece is again free-jazz like, but at the same, curious time, also well organized, through minimalist developments of the piece itself. A pity that this is so short: one should definitely want more after this. Bring on the next album! (FdW) Address:


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