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Vital Weekly 791

img  Tobias Fischer

TERUYUKI NOBUCHIKA - SONORITE (CD by Plop/Mu-Nest)
From Kyoto hails this composer of film soundtracks and 'Sonorite' is his second solo album on which the piano is the main instrument, but not the only one. Hard to say what else, but there is, far away also occasionally people talking and maybe bits of processing, but they are also kept to a minimum. I played this yesterday afternoon for the first time, and gradually fell asleep, which I don't consider to be something negative (although not the best thing to do when writing a review). It has that great relaxing quality. To describe this CD in two words, I'd say: Erik Satie. Strange little melodies, which I can't describe in pure classical terms (fifth's or eights or whatever), but which have that great Satie like quality, or might even plagiarize Satie, such as in 'Bagatelle No. 2'. Joyfully sad music, I could easily imagine myself in a salon d'arts in Paris, late 19th century and sip some wine and talk about that young composer from Honfleur who is currently a cabaret pianist and lovingly playing for us right now. (if you don't know who that is, you should read more). Except it turns out that this salon d'arts is in Kyoto and its played by Teruyuki Nobuchika and I am home alone. Excellent. (FdW) Address: http://www.naturebliss.jp

 

FOOD PYRAMID - PLATEAUS (CD by Wounderyou)
Prince was in The Netherlands a couple of times in past few weeks, and I didn't care much. But from Minneapolis, Minnesota, home of Prince, there is a new band called Food Pyramid, a trio of psychedelic mood/dance music. Obviously connected to the current cosmic sense with krautrock like rhythms, all coming from the rhythm machines rather than real drums, lauded with fat synthesizer and sequencers, bits of piano, this is some great driving force music. Very wild, alike Black Dice, nicely bubbling and bouncing with a great energetic feel to it. I surely can imagine this in concert: it must a great wild affair. Even when the band does more spacious music it has that same bumping quality. This is some great cosmic music, perhaps a bit more in the world of digital music than some of their peers, but its all excellent stuff. Emeralds beware of the new kid(s) on the block. (FdW) Address: http://www.naturebliss.jp/

 

STEFANO FERRIAN - DE-NOIZE # 01 (CD by DE-N Records)
Ferrian is an italian musician, composer and improviser from the north of Italy. Playing since his 9th, he studied various genres from classical to fusion, avantgarde techniques, rock, etc. He was a core member of the avant-core band Pschofagist that is of some reputation in Italy. Later he picked up saxophone. Playing guitar and sax he is involved nowadays in radical improvisation and experimental music. 'De Noize' is a solo project, but it is not his first solo album. Very recent is also his album 'Improvisations For No Syncopated Guitars', filled with 9 abstract classical guitar solos and duet improvisations. This new cd contains only one 11-minute track divided into five parts. The piece was recorded and mixed in 2008-2009 and have Ferrian playing guitars and saxes, but alsoals ometak weevil, bass, synths, drum programming, voice and editing. It is a work of orchestral proportions, composed by an eclectic mind. In the beginning the piece makes avantrock-like gestures, but further on Ferrian touches on many grounds. In another part Ferrian's sax improvising dominates. More close to rock is the rhythm-dominated fragment that has a Residents-like deformed voice in the forefront. For this project it is Ferrian's intention to free himself from every musical convention and go beyond borders. No wonder Ferrian explains this project is about the human inclination to slavery in whatever form. We will see how Ferrian frees himself in the next episode of this project. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://www.stefanoferrian.wordpress.com

 

GUDMUNDUR STEINN GUNNARSSON - HORPMA (CD by Carrier)
With such a name one can only originate from Iceland. Or Reykjavik to be more exact in this case. Gunnarsson (1982) did his studies at Mills College with Alvin Curran, Fred Frith and in Iceland with numerous composers. His compositions made it to several festivals, performed by several ensembles, etc. 'Horpma' is made up of two parts for 27 plucked and hammered instruments: fortepiano, harpsichord, koto, harp, guitars, ukuleles, chumbuz, langspil and several other small instrument that are played by Charity Chan, Kanoklo Nishi, Kyomitsu Odai, Nicole Reisnour, Robert Reynission plus the composer himself. "Each string of this meta-instrument is tuned according to just intonation, with an emphasis on narrow -- or smaller than normal -- intervals." Composed and played with a fine sense for consequence and discipline, it leaves the listener with a demanding listening experience. In a way similar to the very early minimal works by Glass and Reich. But it would be a mistake to conclude nothing happens here. On the contrary. The small and out of phase intervals, the changes in speed, etc., make up a painting that consists of details only. If you can and want to accommodate to this level and perspective, 'Horpma' shows another side of how music can be enjoyed. (Dolf Mulder) Address: http://www.carrierrrecords.com

 

CRAIG VEAR - SUMMERHOUSE (CD by Cluster/Mille Plateaux)
AUGST/CARL - OBEN - MATTHIAS BELTZ REMIXED (CD by Badly Organized)
The resurrected Mille Plateaux label diverse in various divisions for all sorts of music. Craig Vear's release for instance comes on the division called Cluster, which is not the department of cosmos, but anything to do with ambient and drones. Vear already released a CDR on Gruenrekorder (see Vital Weekly 740) of a more aquatic nature. On this new release he works again with field recordings, from various places including the antartics, but its not always easy to recognize them, as Vear uses a lot of computer treatments to alter the sounds he recorded. He does that with some care for detail, but not always with great originality. The icy fields it depicts now, sound like a bunch of worn out plug ins, granular synthesis and stretched out sounds with ambisonic treatments. Having said that, its not bad at all. At times a bit louder than the usual computer musician operating in this field, with somewhat louder sounds, but on the other hand spacious enough to qualify as 'fine drone' music. Highly minimal, sometimes almost to a complete stand-still.
Of an entirely different nature is the first release on the division called Badly Organized, for all things avant-garde, new music, improvised, dada, obscure and naive. The first release contains the spoken word of the Matthias Beltz, a German political comedian, author, and TV/radio host who died in 2002. I never heard of him. His spoken word stuff is set to music by Oliver Augst and Rudiger Carl. Augst we remember as a member of Freundschaft. Even when you understand German its not easy to understand what this is all about. A very German release, quite obscure, but also quite nice. The music is made with electronics, drums, accordion, and keyboards, fits really well the voice. I assume Augst and Carl cut up the voice a bit to fit the music into, and they do a great job. It sounds improvised and cabaret like at the same time. It needs more insight in the German culture than I could possibly provide for. Nice since its very odd. (FdW) Address: http://www.mille-plateaux.com

 

JANEK SCHAEFER - PHOENIX & PHAEDRA HOLDING PATTERNS (CD by Spekk)
The omni-present Janek Schaefer produces a lot work that goes along with audio visual work, but at the same time also stands well by itself as great music. If I understood well, the music on this CD was transmitted during a concert to the audience holding hand held radios, while Schaefer was in back of the hall. I guess the music presented here is not an audience recording, but a line recording. The whole thing is dedicated to his new born son, Phoenix. I was thinking of the boy, in ten years time, asking Dad 'what is this'. Oh its a CD, see dedicated to you, I made it when you were born. I'd love to see his reaction. I was thinking of this, as I thought two things: a) the music is great, trademark Schaefer stuff. Radio crackles, organ like drones played on the Shruti box, magnetic waves; ambient music perhaps, harking towards musique concrete, due to the use of field recordings. Excellent. Oh and b) isn't this all a bit to dark to celebrate the new born life? Maybe Schaefer thinks otherwise, but I thought it was all a bit sombre, dark and austere. That's how I came to think of the 10-year old Phoenix asking daddy: why is this is all so dark? I couldn't think what to answer, but Schaefer has some time. So for, a little bit older, this is all no problem, as I think Schaefer did another excellent CD, although perhaps not necessarily shedding new light or making a radical change in his career, but as dark, austere, atmosphere as it is, its great. (and I say hi to Phoenix, who will no doubt read this in ten years). (FdW)
Address: http://www.spekk.net

 

SIMON WHETHAM - MALL MUZAK (CD by Unfathomless)
These days it seems if Simon Whetham is everywhere, now with a release on Unfathomless. For this one he made field recordings in The Mall, Broadmead, Bristol. We see a picture of him on the insert, holding up his microphone, near the escalator. Shopping is not an activity I enjoy very much, nor shopping centers, perhaps for that reason that they always buzz with activity. People, ventilators, escalators, and above muzak. I am not sure if Whetham feels the same about malls, and calls his release 'Mall Muzak', with a sarcastic undercurrent, or perhaps even considers this to be alternative muzak for shopping malls, but somehow I think this is all not the case. His piece (lasting almost fifty minutes) is a musical survey of activity going on in malls. Exactly the ventilators, escalators, the eternal buzz. He captured the whole lot and put this into a great musical piece of buzzing and humming tones, occasionally with the obscure sounds of objects falling, pushed to the faraway background. Although I didn't hear Whetham do much beyond what he usually does, I think this was a pretty good CD, perhaps even one of the best I heard from him so far. Minimal yet always changes in smaller details and throughout making an excellent form of new muzak - now, if malls would play this I'd be around them more. Perhaps. (FdW) Address: http://www.unfathomless.net

 

ANTOINE CHESSEX - DUST (CD by Cave12)
Saxophone player Antoine Chessex plays some intense saxophone music that is to be found almost exclusively in the world of sustain. If you are not emerged in his sound world, then you find this probably highly annoying. That's the 'live' side of Chessex, but there is also a studio side. Here he works quite often with other people and also with the idea of sustaining sounds. These other people provide him with instruments such as violins, three of them on this release (played by Ekkehard Windrich, Steffen Tast and Elfa Run Kristindottir) and his main collaborator Valerio Tricoli on reel-to-reel recorder and electronics. I have no idea how this 'composing' of Chessex works: its a notated on paper and these four players interpretate that? Or did all of them play bits of the music which Chessex mixed together? Hard to say. I haven't quite figured out the answer. What I do know is that this almost thirty minute piece is a great one. It reminds me of the concerts I saw from Chessex: loud (especially after the break when things start building up again), sustainment, overtone like, orchestral, seemingly on end, but of course it has an end… This is another fine work by Chessex, moving, textural, orchestral, modern… now, if only all modern composing sounded like this! (FdW) Address: http://label.cave12.org

 

MOHA! - MEININGSLAUST OPPGULP (CD by Rune Grammofon)
When I played this CD for my daughter, she looked annoyed: dad with his noisy shit music. I had to remind her of the one time when, standing on a waste bin, overlooking the adults, she very much enjoyed MoHa! and was sad when I didn't take her to the next concert of them, outdoors. But times change I guess, and peer pressure gets stronger, plus: who wants to be associated with daddy's taste? So I played this CD when she was away and thought of MoHa! and how much I think this is a great band. These eight tracks are from various limited vinyl releases from the last three years, three of their own singles and two sides from split records. Anders Hana and Morten J. Olsen: drums, keyboards and guitars. But also with lots of electronics and a laptop to alter every part of the drumkit through self-built software. MoHa! is, if you didn't know, a noise band from the world of improvised music, and as far as I'm concerned one of the best, right along with my other favorite, Borbetomagus. What I like about MoHa! is their completely natural combining of 'acoustic' or 'real' instruments along with computerized processing, backed with that incredible speed and energy; things buzz and rattle at a furious velocity and with an enormous drive. Like a cold shower, it totally feeds you with new energy. Not being a collector of any kind, I missed out on these vinyl releases before, but I think I would prefer this crystal clear CD version anyway (expertly mastered by Jeff Carey). Excellent compilation. (FdW)
Address: http://www.runegrammofon.com

 

TOM LAWRENCE - WATER BEETLES OF POLLARDSTOWN FEN (CD by Gruenrekorder)
EISUKE YANAGISAWA -  ULTRASONIC SCAPES (CDR by Gruenrekorder)
Gruenrekorder always knows where to find new people involved in the world of field recordings. Here its one Tom Lawrence, who created a CD with ten different pieces all recorded at the Pollardstown Fen, 'one of the last remaining calcium-rich spring-fed post-glacial valley fens in Western Europe'. Sticking his microphone mostly below the water level, he picks up animal life, water beetles and water bugs and such like. Amazing stuff! The singing of the beetles, as captured in 'Seven Springs' sound great. There is no 'treatment', such a fine capture of events, the pure phonography of an environment. Not an easy place to access, with all these nervous sounds, soft high end peeps and the hectic life of so many small creatures. At many times things sound quite mechanical, like lo-fi objects buzzing and rotating. Each of the pieces is well documented. Quite a captivating release, but one that requires total concentration: the first time I played it, I wasn't paying attention and it irritated the hell out of me.
Which also happened with the release by Eisuke Yanagisawa, who I assume is from Japan, and picked up the sounds of the cicadas, bats and drone sounds from street lights and feeds them through signal processors. He has a release before (see Vital Weekly 684), which seemed all more in pure field recordings, but this new one has unmistakenly a more electronic feel to it. That however is an illusion: all of these sounds were captured with a bat detector, picking up and translating sounds that are usually beyond the audible range. Ultrasonic sounds. Another pure documentation release, but slightly different also. In the case of Tom Lawrence things are very busy and nervous, with lots of things happening in the smaller details of the events, the release by Yanagisawa is more about static, single events captured very closely. Its also a more varied in terms of sonic approaches. Some very loud events are backed by some that are particular soft. This makes a varied release that is quite interesting and right to the point. (FdW) Address: http://www.gruenrekorder.de

 

BIRDS OF DELAY - THE CUT (LP by Ultra Eczema)
BOB & LOU - FIVE TRACKS 1991-1993 (LP by Ultra Eczema)
GEORGE TOET SMITS - ISOMOPOLIS. ICC (LP by Ultra Eczama)
Labelboss Vom Grill of Ultra Eczema was recently playing in Nijmegen and handed me these three LPs. Releases on his label are always limited and usually heavily in demand. Its no longer the noise label I thought it was - at least for a long time. Birds Of Delay is a duo of Luke Younger and Steven Warwick, both of whom I don't think I heard before. Their record has two sides - duh, don't all records have two sides, I hear you say - but I mean two entirely different sides. The first side has a beautiful organ like piece, minimal, drone like, pure, on endless sustain. Perfect (if nothing new). The other side contains of the repeated word 'snap', looped and a bit pitched, panning left and right. Radical sound poetry, I'd say. Not always logically ordered, so its not like Reich's 'Come Out', but with words cut up just when you think they are in a loop, which makes this an entirely captivating piece of music. A great minimal record.
Also of Bob & Lou I never heard, missing out on early CDR releases on Ultra Eczema I guess. Behind Bob & Lou are Peter De Ceulaer and Luther Vanhoof, who have been producing music since the late 80s using synthesizers, field recordings and metal percussion. I wouldn't dare to accuse Ultra Eczema of cashing in easily - I do think he's a genuine lover of weird music - but this record contains music that was in the 'cold' days of cosmic music and fits the retro trend of these days very well. These five pieces are from 1991 to 1993 when frankly not a lot of people cared about cosmic music, although ambient house was its peak, but Bob & Lou play a rather simplified version of that. Nice arpeggio's on the analogue synth, but their drum machines are very simply, and they add a sufficient amount of weirdness to the music to stand out from anything easy in the field of cosmic music. 'Track Four' expands a bit more and is more like a lo-fi BBC Radiophonic Workshop affair, with cut-up spoken word and has a great radioplay like quality. A great weird record.
I am sure I heard the name George 'Toet' Smits before, I just can't remember where. He was a guitarist and mouth organ player in Ferre Grignard's band in the sixties, published magazines and did a radio for Radio Centraal in Antwerp. He also build installations with long strings. He died in 1997. Ultra Eczema has had access to his sound archive and decided to release this one sided record. A recording from 1981 using metal, strings, feathers and springs, all amplified. This is perhaps the most weirdest record of all three, or perhaps the most arty one. Despite the pictures on the insert, it would have been nice to seen the action which was necessary to create the music. As a pure documentation of an action it is also nice, with metallic rumble, scraping and scratching the strings/springs and such like, which altogether sounds pretty obscure, making this a great obscure record. A nice trio. Pity that the Toet record is only one side. (FdW) Address: http://www.ultraeczema.com

 

LIONEL MARCHETTI & JEROME NOETINGER - GENEVA/PARIS (LP by Corpses Underneath The Beds)
Is the tape recorder an instrument? In this case the reel-to-reel machine called Revox B77? Both Lionel Marchetti and Jerome Noetinger have such a machine and they play concerts using this. No other electronics, no overdubs. I missed their concert at Steim a couple of years ago, when they played this, but I was told it was great. Their tapes are no doubt pre-recorded with sounds and they do improvisations with those. Hand manipulation of pulling out the tape, slowing down (on the machine, as well as by hand), speeding up (ditto), play/rewind/fast forward/back/rewind etc: relatively simply means of producing music, but sometimes all you need is the right idea and obviously the right creative skills to produce such great music. Two concert recordings here, one from Geneva and one from Paris and I assume they have been edited a bit so it would fit the limitations of the LP, but this is all top stuff. Marchetti and Noetinger proof that they belong to the top of the field of electronic improvisers. They create rich music with limited means and do so with great style and care. Next time around I promise not to miss it when they come to town. (FdW) Address: http://butterfly.noise-below.org

 

FENNESZ - SEVEN STARS (10" By Touch)
Its been indeed a while since we last heard solo music by Christian Fennesz, the absolute genius when it comes to laptop music. His previous release was 'Black Sea' (see Vital Weekly 653) and the new one is a four track 10", recorded earlier this year. Fennesz says he wanted to record something with more lightness and one track he uses drums, played by Steven Hess. Fennesz himself plays acoustic and electric guitars, synth, bass and computers. Fennesz explores the route he choose for 'Black Sea' further. Moving away from the strict laptop music, by incorporating more clearly guitars and bass, which in 'Liminal' goes towards popmusic - although not really of course - and in 'July' makes a dense piece of improvised sounds. 'July' is the most ambient piece, dark but with shimmering lights. 'Seven Stars' is the piece with Steven Hess and has nice acoustic guitars, laidback percussion and fine granular synthesis. Almost a piece of lounge music. Excellent, all four. A pity, only four. Can't wait for the next longplayer. (FdW) Address: http://www.touchmusic.org.uk

 

SAITO KOJI - EARLY WORKS (CDR by Kokeshidisk)
Back in Vital Weekly 708 I first reviewed music by Saito Koji, through a 3"CDR by Taalem. This label, or rather a dub-division for re-issues, Kokeshidisk, now releases a full length with three tracks from a CDR trilogy that was released 'a few years ago' by Magic Book Records and long sold out. Three extended pieces of ambient drone music. Hard to say how he created those pieces in terms of instruments or sound sources. My best guess would be that these are (digital) synthesizers, and a few sound effects that form these long form, minimal pieces that have little development - but that's not necessary: music like this probably doesn't need development, as its not really interested in the world of composition or structure. Its all about, I guess, setting the right mood and that's something that Saito Koji does pretty well. Absolutely 'old' music in terms of both when this was recorded and where it stands in the history of music, but it works quite well. Very spacious. (FdW) Address: http://www.taalem.com

 

UNDECISIVE GOD - RPMS 3-4 (CD by ShameFileMusic)
Clinton Green is the man behind Undecisive God from Australia. The last work Finnegans Wake of Clinton Green I have reviewed in Vital has a complete atmosphere. In this work he investigate the work of James Joyce. RPMs 3-4 is his third installment of a series of releases which documents variations on a compositional structure Green designed for turntable interaction. He starts his exploration in 2008. The concept of RPMs acts as a basic structure for exploration of different turntable settings, preparations and interactions. All four parts of the series released so far work primarily with layers of broken records/vinyl shards on each turntable, which creates a percussive yet chaotic effect as the tone arm skips from shard to shard, playing brief snatches of music from each. The music is created with some real-time digital looping and without overdubs and only a minor editing. The results are manic pieces of music in which different styles of music, voices and scratches melt into a hypnotic repetition of these different worlds. The album has four compositions. The first and the last track are the most recognizable as experimental turntable compositions. In the last track he goes really wild and turns up the speed, changes the sound and creats a dark hardcore sounds which blasts all ears. The second track is an abstraction of the turntable concept which shows the listener the noise between the concrete sounds. The third track is a collage of field-recordings which have been at several places and events. The collage is a welcome restful piece in this brilliant vinyl world of Clinton Green. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address: http://www.shamefilemusic.com

 

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

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