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Vital Weekly 793

img  Tobias Fischer

Many years ago I saw Andrew Tuttle play in Extrapool, alongside with Kunt, and it was one of those evenings which were nice, perhaps not entirely for the quality of the music, but just a lovely winter evening with nice people and fine music. I have no idea why I remembered that. I wrote that before, in Vital Weekly 684, when I reviewed Andrew Tuttle's Anonymeye CDR. That was recorded on a bunch of ancient synthesizers locked at away Rotterdam's CEM/Worm studios, which was interesting since Tuttle is mainly a guitarist, as he proofs here on a more 'serious' release for Room40's pop label Someone Good. He plays acoustic guitar, along with signal processing, synthesizer, electronics, harmonica, organ and piano. Its all instrumental music, and its perhaps the first time I heard a pop-like album being described like this: "Anonymocracy - where tensions previously held between assumed rival factions such as acoustics and electronics, improvisation and composition, dissonance and melody are recognized and explored, but eventually heading towards a resolution that is part utopian and part redemption." Now just like these words, 'pop' is also strange word, and to many who like 'pop' music this would hardly qualify as pop music, but I understand this label's point. Anonymeye plays some very nice tunes on his guitar which are supported by the other instruments. Hyper psychedelic drones in the opening of 'Federation', but then the guitar drops in, breezing like fresh air. Two of the seven pieces may not fit in here, both of which are recorded with Cornel Wilczek, and which are pretty extreme compared to the rest of this album. I am not sure why they are included, as they fall quite beside the others. For those others you think John Fahey meets glitch in 'Minarchism', which is, along with 'Meritocracy', the highlight of the CD. Maybe its a bit out of balance due to the two more experimental pieces, but hey, what do I care? I am no pop man, so I can state: this is a great CD. (FdW) Address:


Quite curiously, when I popped this into my computer to rip a bit for the podcast, Itunes tells me what it is, and its indeed by Michel Doneda and Jonas Kocher, but as title it says 'Talk About El Records' from an album 'The Rulling Class [Disc 2]', and not 'Action Mecanique', so it seems there is another work by them with exactly the same length - 42:33. Odd I thought, or perhaps this is an inside joke, or a strong conceptual edge. Anyway, Doneda (soprano and sopranino saxophones) and Kocher (accordion, objects) toured the Balkan late 2009, and November 27, they visited the Red House in Sofia, Bulgaria, where they played (for 42:33) minutes with some great, dynamic improvised music. They work along similar lines, with sustaining notes played on the accordion and the saxophones, with both of them lashing out into furious tones and occasional cascading noise. They 'work' the space very well in this lively recording in which we also hear the audience shuffling carefully about and even at times outside street noise blending into the music, which adds a nice extra layer to the music. This is 42:33 minutes of quite extreme music, both in the dynamic range as well as in the actual music and interaction between these two great players. This is some excellent music. This release (an edition of merely 160 copies, and yet still a real CD) comes in sand paper, which is always nice, very situanionist. Address:


Another re-issue on Trash Ritual, following the recent 'Steel Negro Music' by XX Committee (see Vital Weekly 790), is one by Danny DeVos, also known as DDV and one half of Club Moral. His 'Sound Atlas Of Venereology' dates from 1982, and I am not sure why this had to be released; not I don't like this, but why not something else from his vast body of work, solo, with Club Moral, or the excellent (and never properly re-issued) Etat Brut. This is very much an underground product of its time: a booklet with pictures of veneric diseases, and its not always to relate them to the music (not the titles of the pieces: they speak volumes!), which is the sort of noise that was popular in the days: a simple synthesizer sound, piercing vocals (which are unmistakably DDV sneering vocal charm), cut-ups and manipulations of vinyl records. To me, who a) lived and loved this kind music in 1982 and b) who never got hold of 'A Sound Atlas Of Venerology', this is indeed a most welcome re-issue, but the more objective reviewer inside says: for whom is this? Unless this is the start of re-issue series of many more works by DDV, thus getting the complete picture of his career (which I would applaud), this would be too strange as a stand alone release, I think. The current trend of noise is, sadly, HNW, and those youngsters might think this is too tame, or too common ('oh more venereal diseases, yeah right'), which is altogether a pity, since its a great document of its time. So let's hope for a whole series of re-issues to make a true time machine experience. (FdW) Address:


Last time I heard Hanno Leichtman play music was also the last time I saw him, as part of a big band techno improvisation thing - I even forgot when that was. Before that I heard his music as Static quite regularly but he moved out of the picture for some years. So I missed out his 2006 album for City Centre Offices, or his work with the trio's Groupshow and Denseland. Static is solo project, but he thought it was necessary to give it a rest, while thinking about his next move. That move we can now here on 'Freedom Of Noise', which he recorded with a bunch of musicians from the improvisation scene: harpist Clare Cooper, trumpet player Axel Dorner and saxophone Tobias Delius. Apart from these three principal players, there is also input by Magda Mayas (organ), David Moss (voice), Andrea Neumann (inside piano), Gert-Jan Prins (analogue devices) and several others. All of them were asked to play as if they were part of a pop band, and the result is 'Freedom Of Noise'. I assume these players recorded extensive sessions, and Leichtman cutting up the best bits to fit in with general idea of each composition. A playful editing for sure, resulting in quite a diverse album of great music, although not always pop like, but at times venturing out in the world of jazz, folk and ambient. Static trade mark loop sound is still there, but here cut from the recordings of real instruments, but never static (pardon the pun), but warm and always 'song-like'. Mostly instrumental, and when with vocals alternating between male and female; once Static decides upon one singer, and have that for all the songs, then it will be a proper pop band. All the inclinations to be one are there. An album full of transition - a great album at that - and one that certainly calls for the next: the real pop one. (FdW) Address:

Two new releases on Potlatch, a French shelter for improvisation, and both of them include Seijiro Murayama on percussion, twice in duet with a saxophone: the soprano of Stephane Rives and alto of Jean-Luc Guionnet. That is about the only two things that are similar here on these two discs. The CD with Rives contains three long pieces of utter extreme music. I have no idea how it was made, no man can surely breath so long in a saxophone, but Rives plays long sustaining tones on his soprano: high end, almost like sine waves/feedback. Murayama plays also sustained tones, on his percussion, by rotating sounds on the surface of the skins and cymbals. This is - literally - very strong music, an endurance test, for the players no doubt, but also for the listener. Clocking at fifty-some minutes, this is CD can't be played without full attention.
So much different, I guess, is the release with Jean-Luc Guionnet. However, 'extreme' is a word that can easily be applied here, but then one from a totally different perspective. If the other one is 'loud', then this one is 'quiet' - here sparseness is what it is all about. I could almost talk about this in the very same words: "This is - literally - very strong music, an endurance test, for the players no doubt, but also for the listener. Clocking at fifty-some minutes, this is CD can't be played without full attention." Except there is a no continuity in the music, but rather many loose, fragmented sounds, and sometimes making sustaining events, but then these appear to be rather 'soft'. I must admit that playing both CDs in a row is quite a lot to ask for, while each album individual has a great quality by itself - and its tempting to play both at the same time and create a multi-mix out of them together. (FdW) Address:


Lehn & Schmickler have played together before: in the last ten years there have been three releases together (on Erstwhile and A-Musik) as well as numerous concerts throughout Europe, USA and Japan. The concert on 'Live Double Seance' was captured on November 14th 2010 in Helsinki. It was a concert for six loudspeakers, and captured in such a way that on the DVD one can choose for a multi-channel version. I don't have such a set-up. Lehn on his analogue synthesizer and Schmickler on his computer is a fine pairing. Schmickler's recent interest in 'modern electronics' - the more serious avant-garde of the sixties - work quite well with the music produced on Lehn's EMS synthesizer. It makes that this music, although improvised, sounds very much like that of the sixties. Sounds bounce about, oscillations, glissandi, and such like make a swirling pattern of sound, not unlike the 'Planet Of The Apes', but these two men add something of the noise inspired tradition from the new millennium to the plate which adds an extra dimension to the music. Going from very loud bits to carefully used silence, makes this a great release. Often I think we shouldn't release all those concerts, but this one is actually really great. I should find someone with a multi-channel set-up!
Of an entirely different nature is the music by Jessika Kenney and Eyvind Kang. the latter plays violin, while Kenney is a vocalist 'known for her haunting timbral sense, as well as the profound interpretation of vocal traditions'. They perform here a piece that is a meditation on 'a psalm of lamentation and the unary tone in the metaphor of salt and fresh water, inspired by Gaelic psalmery, Tibetan notational gestures, and the microtonality of the tetrachord'. Like the recent release on Mego by Phurpa, this is something that one wouldn't expect: angelic voices and sparse violin, in five tracks which all sound quite similar to me. I have no idea what to think of this, after playing it a couple of times. Sometimes I think this is of great beauty, but at other times it annoys the hell out of me. Maybe that should count as a great record then? I am not sure. Maybe this sort of vaguely religious music is just not for me? I haven't figured this out yet, maybe I never will? (FdW) Address:


Along with this, the fifth album of Belgiums Red Stars Over Tokyo, I got a copy of the very first album by him, the one I missed out several years ago. I thought the second and third record where along the lines of early Factory Records/4AD, but this first one was more like a somewhat crude form of techno music and wicked ambient passages - all in some lo-fi manner. It completes the picture, I guess, as this new record takes off where that one ends, and maybe also the previous 'Not Moving' (see Vital Weekly 743). That one was a bit disappointing with its attempts at dub like music, but on 'Hits Of Sunshine' (a rare thing this summer in The Netherlands), this new found dub sound is expanded a bit more, so that it is for home listening as much enjoyable as it is for DJ-ing. It says on the press blurb that this is along the lines of Kompakt's 'Pop Ambient' series, which I can see. It has that same mild ambient sound, like a spring breeze, slow arpeggio's and sometimes a bit faster ones, and always with that slightly thumping of a beat in the background. Not entirely pop ambient, but like its wicked little sister. Red Stars Over Tokyo seem to be back on track with this nice record. (FdW) Address: <>


A duo recording for guitar and drums, by two of Italy's finest improvisors, although I never heard of them before. Their eleven pieces here is a combination of really wild free jazz gestures, but, and those work better, also of some great introspective moments. The techniques used here are fairly 'normal': the guitar sounds like a real guitar, the drums like drums. But that's half the story: the pizzicato plucking of strings, the nervous playing of small percussive sounds, courtesy of UFIP (for which Marcello Magliocchi works), the addition of rock like effects, add a great energy to the record. Magliocchi likes his cymbals and uses them a lot, to create resonating, Bertoia like sound sculptures, bouncing of against the occasionally rock like guitar of Morgia. Quite a beast this one. Excellent to get more energy at the end of the day. (FdW) Address:


JOHN WIESE - GGA (12" by Teenage Teardrops)
Now here is an interesting record, by noise supremo John Wiese. When I started this 12" I thought it had something to do with his love for the Haters: smashing glass, highly separated in the two channels. But then a peek on the information learns that this is actually a stereo mix of a 4 channel installation. It sounds great, but then, like Wiese, I am big fan of The Haters too. The sound of smashing, breaking and crunching of glass is very loudly recorded here, and has a great physical quality to it. It bounces loudly and a strong, minimal, conceptual edge to it. This could have lasted LP size to me, instead of 12". Totally captivating noise in the best sense of the word. Now that's what I call noise: intelligent, loud, conceptual and listenable. (FdW) Address:


Meeuw Muzak is less active these days, or so it seems, but I still cherish their releases. Hideto Aso is The Pitchshifters, who did a CDR back in 2003, of which Meeuw did a 7" before, using two tracks from that release, see also Vital Weekly 594. On this new 7" we have one old track, '828' and a new one, 'Goshen'. The old piece sounds like the previous release: loud lo-fi keyboards and wacky drum machine keeping a strange time measure to hold things together. This one, unlike the previous, is less sad, even lively perhaps, despite the loudness. 'Goshen', the new a-side, is a more introspective piece, almost ambient in approach and it seems that Aso got some new equipment and the new music is almost mellow in approach. 'Goshen' is a lovely little track, almost like a love song. Excellent stuff. (FdW) Address:


SILVER ASH - DEATHLESS/LIFEBOAT (7" by Generate Records)
A three piece band, Silver Ash with Aaron Dugan (guitar), Casey Block (electronics) and Jeff Arnal (percussion). Its a kind of rock music I don't hear a lot, these days. A bit post-rock like, but the percussion by Arnal is a bit jazzy, while the guitar plays dampened strings and the electronics have that big city feel to it. Quite groovy on 'Deathless', but loosely, while on 'Lifeboat' things are more urgent, almost like a rock feel. Here guitar and electronics more intertwine in haunting mass of sound, before disintegrating and making a return. Quite intellectual music, harking back to the more experimental kinds of rock music of the early 80s, say This Heat or Five Or Six. Nothing much straight forward as normal rock music usually is, at least to these ears, and that's a great thing. Not as standard post-rock either, since its less jazzy than some of the bands in that area. A 7" that made me very curious to whatever else it is that these people are doing. (FdW) Address:


Ross Baker is Second Thought, since 1999. Originally a duo from the world of techno music, but already after one year Baker was on his own, and started to play more ambient music. There have been albums on FSOL Digital, Ambient Live, Bump Foot and now on Jerky Oats, which I think is his own imprint. So this is all about ambient music, and Baker opts for the variation that is a bit more melodic and a bit less drone based. Piano and strings are his main instruments of choice, along with some electronics (reverb mainly) to craft that extra sense of space. Although it is melodic, its not always the most bright kind of music. Especially in those where things get a bit more abstract, without piano and strings (or heavily treated), such as in 'Glebe Road, 1998. Rain' things are a bit creepy, like a horror soundtrack. But then other pieces, such as 'Untitled For Four Pianos' is a nice, sweet piece of minimal music. This makes this a highly varied album which sound quite nice. Not really the most newest direction in the world of ambient music, but executed with great care. Very nice. (FdW)


ST. RIDE - PRIMITIVO (CDR by Niente Records)
Niente Records is a small label from Italy. St. Ride is a duo from Genova. Edo Grandi plays synths and percussion and Maurizo Gusmerini plays voice, synthesizer, guitar and percussion. Primitivo has 17 songs and most of them have a great creative potential.  The two musicians make a base of repetitive elements and on this basic layers they experiment with sounds, counter-rhythms and crazy use of voice. The atmosphere is childish. Give some musicians some equipment and free-space and let?s go wild. But they are not playing like kids, but they play with a strong affection to counter-rhythms and short cuts with their instruments. The music gets by this approach mix between compositions with a song-structure and free-improvisation. The tracks are no longer than 3 minutes, which gives a high attention for the musicians to do their experiments in this short period. This album is a step forward than the album Cercando Niente (Vital 754) and is more balanced. Looking forward to their new creations. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


IF, BWANA - 16 LIVE/CICADA #3 (3"CDR by Bastets Kitten)
There has been a strong connection between Vuz Records and If, Bwana, resulting in various old and new releases over the years. Here Vuz starts up another branch, Bastets Kitten (Bastet already being a CDR division), especially for the release of 3"CDRs. Al Margolis, for it is him behind If, Bwana, offers to pieces of 'all other sounds, processing'  and Monique Buzzarte on trombone. These days quite a common feature: someone playing a real instrument, and Margolis on processing, thereby working in the field that can be regarded as a cross-over between modern composition and improvisation. Both pieces should be seen as companion pieces, I think. '16 Live' is quite dense with many layers of trombone, sparse electronics and a slow bass-like sound, which slowly builds up. 'Cicada #3' has repeated electronic sound, maybe a very slow sequencer, and the trombone sounds are more spaced out, also a bit less in quantity. Although both are very close, I think I preferred 'Cicada #3', with its just more dramatic build-up. But '16 Live' is a fine piece as well. Two excellent pieces of modern composed/improvised music. (FdW) Address:


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

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