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Vital Weekly 795

img  Tobias Fischer

Its been quiet for a while on the front of Sky Burial, the dark ambient force that is sometimes known as the loud noise force Fire In The Head. Eight months, since his last CD on Lens Records (see Vital Weekly 760) to be precise. Three long pieces here of dark ambient music created with a bunch synthesizers, lots and lots of sound effects and a bit of sampling. More cosmic connections are made here, like on its predecessor 'Kiethan', although just once very obvious, in 'Return To The Peripheries', with a bouncing arpeggio played on the synth, and on other occasions with chilling organ sounds. Also like before Sky Burial's Michael Page likes his reverb and at times a bit too much, I should think. But throughout this is another well-made album, just like the previous lot - again. You could wonder how many albums one could create using a similar idiom, and thank god, that's not a question for me to answer. I can imagine getting fed up after a while doing similar stuff, but then for some people its perhaps more a way of life - and Sky Burial might be one of them. 'Threnody For Collapsing Suns' is a fine album of a continuous travel through sound, with sound, maybe composition wise not always tied together, but maybe this kind of music doesn't need to be in a very strictly composed matter. A cinematographic sense is what is needed for this kind of music and I think Sky Burial succeeds well here. Along with 'Kiethan' one of his better works. (FdW)


The Ritual Inclusion Of Code (TRIOC) is a collaboration between Swedish power electronics maestro Deadwood (alias Daniel Jansson) and Osman Arabi (20. sv, Seeker). Deadwood is known for his harsh expressions on albums released on among others the Cold Spring-label. Expressions that combines furious power electronics with extreme vocals of the black metal-style. On this new joint venture project Daniel Jonsson aka Deadwood has left the sonic extremity behind and instead crawling deep into the human mind with this deep ritual ambient album. The album consists of one lengthy track of 31 minutes that slowly dives in-between lo-fi piano and trippy electronic soundscapes. Wooshing drones penetrates the soundworld adding more hypnotism to the expressions that first of all reminds me of early Coil, circa the "Black light district"-period. Very intense indeed!
Next album is another joint-venture this time from Nottingham. Formication is the project of the artists, Alec Bowman and Kingsley Ravenscroft. As was the case with aforementioned album from TRIOC, present album titled "The eyes of erodern riviema" moves in ritual soundspheres, but in contrast to TRIOC's "Beta wave nemesis" Formacation uses rhythmic textures to create the rituality. Chaotic but structured work, twisting a wide pallet of sounds into a dark ambient-based electronica. The atmospheres are dark and mystic. Very interesting.
Last album from the Small Doses-label reviewed here is from a project called Kinit Her. The album titled "Gratitudes" stick to the ritual ambient-like style with a threatening approach. A mixture of industrial and dark ambient uses elements of neo-folk music giving an interesting twist to the texture. Being produced by legendary James Plotkin, the sound quality on this album is guaranteed to be good. Three interesting ritual albums from the Small Doses-label. (Niels Mark) Address:


SABI/KIYO - 71:36 (CD by Force Intel)
A split album released on a new sub-label of the accomplished clicks'n'cuts-maestro label Mille Plateaux. The aim of the sub label Force Intel is to release electronic music that expressively is too far away from the experimental style of Mille Plateaux. The split album titled "71:36" (homage to Global Communication's album titled "76:14"?), includes works from two Tokyo-based artists. The first one is ambient-composer Sabi who takes the first part of the album with five tracks of orchestral ambient. Stylishly, Sabi combines piano-tunes with long-stretching soundscapes recalling the memories of Vidna Obmana's piano-based ambient-work "The river of appearance". From the gentle tunes of ambient, we hereafter move to quite different soundspheres with the next composer Kiyo - a Japanese composer that belongs to the glitchy parts of IDM with subtle rhythm textures operating underneath semi-melodic atmospheres and voice samples. Thus we experience a nice stylish variation on this first album released on Force Intel. (Niels Mark) Address:


SENSE - SELECTED MOMENTS VOLUME 1 (CD by Psychonavigation Records)
From Australia comes Adam Raisbeck, also known as
Sense. He acquired his first synthesizer in 1992 and started playing as Soulenoid in 1995. As such he supported Monolake, Aphex Twin, Bochum Welt and Derrick May along a whole bunch of other luminaries from the techno/ambient/electro scene. As Sense his music very much along the lines of ambient, more than techno or electro. Psychonavigation says that this resembles 'the golden era of 90s ambient music', but if so, then perhaps it is closest to Pete Namlook and his Fax label than say Aphex Twin's 'Selected Ambient Works'. Rhythm is almost entirely absent in the music of Raisbeck. These stretched out synthesizer patterns do fit indeed the world of ambient music, from the seventies Eno/Schulze/Tangerine Dream era, via the 90s of Namlook to the current revival of cosmic music. A bit melodic, best exemplified in 'Muado' or '36 4s' but throughout things are much more 'abstract' than that. Spacious music of weightless nature. Chill out music as used in the chill out room - does that still exist at techno parties? Nothing new as such under the ambient sun (a common place when it comes to reviewing this kind of music), but executed with great care. (FdW)


PIERRE LABBŠ PLUS 12 - TREMBLEMENT DE FER(CD by Ambinaces Magnetiques)
VERTICAL SQUIRRELS - HOLD TRUE (CD by Ambinaces Magnetiques)
These four new releases from Ambiances Magnetiques and the Malasartes sub label introduce works  from relatively new as well as well-known musicians. The CDs of Vertical Squirrels and Irem Bekter satisfied me most.  But not only because their names are new to me. Vertical Squirrels  is a quartet consisting of Ajay Heble (piano, melodica, percussion), Daniel Fischlin (guitars, effects, percussion, flute, provencale), Lewis Melville (bass, baritone, banjo bass, percussion, radio frequencies, grand organ) and Rob Wallace (drums, percussion, vocals). They are on the road since 2008. All four gathered lots of experience in all corners. Combined in this line up this proves to be a fruitful combination.  Very diverse, and fresh music is the result. All pieces originate from collective improvisations but are very diverse, with a fine sense of humor. The cd opens with a grooving piece 'Spunk in your Funk' which is great fun. In contrast the next piece is a very open improvisation abstracting from beat, rhythm, etc.  Also the pieces that follow are free exercises of somehow rock-based improvisations. 'Danse des AraignÈes MÈcaniques' opens with a fine solo by Heble on what seems a self-prepared piano. 'La MnÈmologie/Amnesiaville is a delicious free rock jam.  Pierre LabbÈ also incorporates many influences in his new work. He tries the bigband-format for his new cd.  For this ambitious project LabbÈ composed a suite of contemporary music and avant-jazz and rock, performed by a 13-piece big band, in a way that reminds me sometimes of the belgian Flat Earth Society. LabbÈ is known for his work with Les Projectionnistes, L'Orkestre des Pas Perdus and Papa Boa, a band who sadly made only one cd. Also under his own name you can find some releases. The opening track plays with bluesy and funky motives. Further on LabbÈ touches on many other styles and idioms. Although I often enjoy a playful style of composing and arranging as LabbÈ is practicing here, this time it failed to impress me.  That brings us to another one from the trio Derome-Guilbeault-Tanguay.  Their first release contained  music composed by Derome only. The second one contained  old standards for the most part. On their new one we have a balance between standards and compositions by Derome. Besides five compositions from Derome, they interpret compositions by jazz giants as Ellington,Kirk, Dolphy, Strayhorn and Mengelberg. So it's  an exercise as we have heard earlier form this trio. Another celebration of their love for jazz.  It will surely appeal to those we are into jazz. Ah yes, it has Derome singing in one track, 'I'm Checking Ou't, good bye'.  Singing in all tracks, is what Irem Bekter is doing on her 'Primero' by the Irem Bekter Quintet.  Singer, dancer and actress Bekter was born in Istanbul and grew up in England.  She feels very attracted to Argentine folklore, especially the "zapateo" (Argentinian podorythmy) and folk dances.  Since 2003, MontrÈal is the place to be for her. With MontrÈal-based musicians she started to explore traditional Argentine folklore fruitfully combined with classical and jazzy influences. First results are reflected on this CD. Just beautiful. (DM)


OSTRAVSKA BANDA - ON TOUR (2CD by Mutable Music)
Here we are talking of an ensemble that started in 2005, in the context of the Czech biennial Ostravsk· Days festival, on the initiative of Peter Kotik. The ensemble has young musicians from Europe and United States as its members, with a special love for performing new orchestral music. From well known composers, but also works from new and unknown  composers.  'On Tour' documents performances from their 2010 European tour. Presented are the following compositions: 'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (John Cage), 'In Four Parts (Peter Kotik), 'The Passion'( Somei Satoh), 'Monadologie IV'(Bernard Lang), 'Riti Neurali' (Luca Francesconi) , 'Serenade'(Petr Bakla), 'Dispersion'(Paulina Zalubska). Kotik is also conducting this ensemble that is joined several other reputed musicians like Thomas Buckner and Joseph Kubera.  It is not only interesting to have a young ensemble presented here, but also several young composers, that have not much out on cd I guess. Altogether this double cd is a varied and impressive document .  Percussion dominated compositions by Kotik and Lang. The meditative work 'The Passion' by Satoh.  A violin-dominated expressive and romantic work by Francesconi, etc. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


Since a few years I no longer go on 'holiday' - for the simple reason I don't like it very much. But when I was much younger and going with my parents, Austria and Switzerland were preferred destinations. So the travel up and down the mountains in a gondola is something I am familiar with. The moment you leave the station, going up (down), the passing of one of those pillars and then the sense of floating in between those pillars, weightless without much sound, bumping into the end station. I may even have recorded some of those, but unfortunately I am never in one of those alone, so I capture people speak and sheer. So I must admit I am quite pleased with this new CD by Ernst Karel, from the USA and mostly known as an improviser on trumpet and electronics with his group EKG. Sometimes he lives in Berlin and I guess from there he made a trip in the Swiss mountains to record nine different mountain transport systems in 2008. Although with seventy-seven minutes this is all a bit long I thought, this is a fascinating release. Partly because it brings back child hood memories, but also because it sounds great. These are excellent recordings of machine likes, leaving station, floating, arriving. I guess that's where things are most interesting with field recordings, if it bears a relation with the listener, because he visited the place. So field recordings from say Lima, Peru don't mean much if you were never there, but once you were there, it makes much more sense. This CD by Karel is therefor an excellent one. (FdW) Address:


What I do with Vital Weekly is obviously nice enough but it doesn't compare to one of my favorite books 'The Voice Of New Music', a collection of articles by Tom Johnson, written for the Village Voice throughout the seventies and lots of interesting small pieces on minimal music. After that he moved to Paris and went on to compose his own music (come to think of it: I am not entirely sure if we find in his book evidence that he is a composer - puts book on pile 'read again'). I didn't hear much of his music, maybe the last time were the two CDs, reviewed in Vital Weekly 545. This new one has connections to The Netherlands, were he presented his work 'Orgelpark Color Chart' on Marh 13th 2010. Its a work for four different organs, played by four organists. A work of minimal music, obviously, with clusters being played (if that's the right word - see, I am not like Mister Johnson, a real composer), which builds up and up into a mighty crescendo (that is the right word, I happen to know) at the end, going from the high end of the spectrum to the lower end. A great piece of introspective music. Slowly expanding and growing and growing, but the end is not loud but just nicely massive. Maybe cerebral, but not very religious. Its perhaps just the tones of an organ that give this sort of religious feel to the music. Even for a firm non-believer as I am this is great music. A fine writer, and a great composer. Now there is something to live for. (FdW) Address:

Somewhere along the lines this was missed, and I know there are these Vital Weekly rules about stuff not being older than six months, and this might be older than that. But then, this is by Stephan Mathieu, which happens to be one of my favorite composers from the world of microsound, and how could I skip reviewing a record of his? Just as on 'The Key to the Kingdom' (reviewed in Vital Weekly 666) and 'A Static Place' (see Vital Weekly 766), this one deals with picking up sounds from old 10" records through ancient gramophones. What happens beyond that is a bit unclear (sound being picked with microphones and using spectral analysis and convolution), but no doubt some form of computer processing which stretches the material to what is perhaps now trademark Mathieu music. Very spacious music, drone like, minimal. Mathieu finds much of his inspiration in colorfield paintings (Rotkho, Newmann) and his music reflects that, I think: quite an uniform mass of sound with the slightest changes boiling on and below the surface. Yet Mathieu always knows how to add a bit of melodic shimmer to his music, which makes it move a bit out y'r standard drone music. Quite a bit. Mathieu knows how to capture a fine mood in a relative short time span, as each side last about five minutes. Very refined as usual. But I guess you didn't expect this to be objective, or let alone critical? (FdW)


(AD)VANCE(D) - 24 (10" by Substantia Innominata)
Last week Mars Wellink from (ad)vance(d) mailed me a picture of this 10", announcing its release and it said '24 - time is ticking', to be released by the Substantia Innominata division of Drone Records. Mars Wellink a '24' fan, Jack Bauer saves the world - again? I thought that hard to believe - I will ask him next time I see him. Now, in those sparse releases so far, I learned to love (ad)vance(d), a duo of Mars Wellink and Jan Dekker, as a drone duo, but this 10" is something a bit different. The a-side, '0618', is a sound collage of environmental recordings, mainly in the city. Teeth brushing, Cars passing, keys turning, people talking (Mars and Jan?) and in the background there is the hissing of gas in the kitchen. Quite an interesting piece, for its different from what I know from them (which isn't all there is), and has a great radiophonic touch to it. The b-side is '1806', which made me think its some kind of remix, but that is not the case. Here environmental sounds are looped around and form indeed a drone like piece of music. The sighing of voices and some far away banging of metal in a large empty space and somewhere half way the teeth brushing appears again - so, its perhaps a remix after all? Quite a curious record, which I like very much, I must say. An excellent record of radiophonic qualities - somebody should invite them to do a radioplay. (FdW) Address:


Must Die is a British music label residing in the North West of England in the seaside near Blackpool. The label focuses on experimental, DIY and left-field music off various kinds. The aim of the label is first of all to promote the underground so all formats distributed are kept on minimal cost: Mp3's distributed for free and CDRs sold at a low price. First album reviewed here is a sampler of the different artists represented on the label. The CDR comes in a nice circulated tin disc with badges and stickers included. The expression on the album varies from noise rock across filthy dub and kitch to obscure electronic expressions. One of my favorite moments are the "Miles hadfield and must die sound system" by Pay And Display. A minimal loop-based work with voice-over. A nice and interesting introduction to the cool style of the "Must Die"-label.
Next album comes from Noise and experimental musician Nigel Joseph from the local area of the Must Die-label around Blackpool. His album "Radioactive snuff" contains of six tracks. Some tracks belongs to the pure harsh noise scene with expressions built on adapted guitars, kid's toys and various household objects. Two of the tracks contains rhythmic textures: One is the upfront power noise track titled "Born lucky born dead too". The other one more belongs to the catchy atmospheric style. "Rooh's requiem" consists of catchy rhythms built on subtle noise and ambient soundscapes floating in the background. Overall the style of the album is minimal and repetitive textures. Very nice indeed. (Niels Mark) Address:


TIM NEWMAN - GAMELAN (CDR by Reverb Worship)
Earlier this year I was pleasantly surprised by an album by a three piece band from Bristol, Vibrafuzz. Two members got the credit for the guitar, while Tim Newman got credit for the 'rest'. Here he has a solo release, which I think is an equal surprise. Inspired by a record from His Name Is Alive (always good to mention that lovely guy!) who recorded a gamelan LP, Newman found a website which contained samples of every note of every instrument in the Gamelan set (in case you are interested: at which he took to his keyboard and plays around with. I could have as easily believed that Newman plays a real gamelan, perhaps various layers of them, but alright: so its only samples. I think this is an excellent release. Ten relatively short pieces, quiet, rhythmic, introspective. Never fast, never loud. Tranquility all around. One piece is inspired by Steve Reich's 'phase shifting' technique using a single note in slightly different tempi. Mild overtones all around. Very ethnic. I know, I don't know much about, but it could have been a traditional recording from Indonesia. Maybe ini.itu should invite him to do a record? (FdW)


NXFXTXEX - PRESS PLAY AND SHUFFLE (3" CDR by Shit Music For Shit People)
NXFXTXEX  stands for "Not for Trendy Ears" and saw the light of day in 1998 and was influences by anarchopunks Crass. The man behind this noise project is Eli Gudnason from Danmark and released a huge amount of CD-R's at several labels. He released this CD at Shit Music For Shit People from Denmark. The CD consists 99 tracks and the meaning is to play them in shuffle position. All kinds of noise are coming up with great titles like "Horizontal line with an armchair" or "Origami duck with the orchestra." The idea of a random music is well-done. The wall of sounds will be stopped about every 10 seconds for one second and the other noise is coming up. The noise itself is raw, harsh and diverse. From heavy electronics to subtile crashes and screams or beats. I like the speed of the sounds and the short interruptions of silence. Great blasting 21 minutes which can be played for 210 minutes. Beat and repeat! (Jan-Kees Helms)


IF, BWANA - WAH YU WAN (cassette by Maneko Neko)
Just two weeks ago we reviewed a new 3"CDR by If, Bwana on Bastets Kitten, a new, further expansion of the world of Vuz Records. Another addition to the family is a cassette only label by the name of Maneki Neko tapes and here too is the first release by If, Bwana. It is actually a re-issue of the only LP ever released by If, Bwana, on Generations Unlimited. In a sort of sick twist (I guess), the tape has two versions: a remastered version from 2011, and on the other 'an untouched recording of the vinyl'. I am not sure if ever heard the vinyl back then - I may have - and this is I guess from the time when Al Margolis, master-mind of the bwana, made that cross-over from home made tape manipulations towards exploring improvised music with other people. Here he gets help from people like Dan Andreana (saxophone, guitar), Frederik Lonberg-Holm (cello), Brian Charles (clarinet, didjerdu, oboe), Detta Andreana (piano) and Joan Osborne (vocals), whereas Margolis plays synthesizer, sampler, violin, french horn, piano, clarinet, tape and effects. It doesn't have yet the refinement of his latter works (starting with that fine CD in the Anckarstrom series, only a year or two later, I think), but still has that somewhat raw character of noise music, but then played with a lot of acoustic instruments - such as in the title piece (if I counted right, with a cassette this is never easy). Yet this isn't all out noise, but playful noise, stemming from the world of improvisation, acoustic and electronic, and has an unique touch to it, which one rarely find these days and perhaps also not in the days when this was released, 1990. An essential item from the If, Bwana catalogue, a turning point in his career, and finally resurrected. Maybe a CDR/CD would have been more in place for this delicate noise, but cassette will do also. (FdW) Address:


DAS SOMBREROS - MONSTROCITY (mp3 by Anarchy Books)
The idea to con me into writing this review was great, and I won't reveal what was done (it wasn't a bribe), but they gained a review for the MP3 release. Das Sombreros is a duo of Pedro Wong and Klaus Patel. They were inspired by Stockhausen, Cage, Zoviet France and Nurse With Wound and also horror stories and science fiction. That last influence comes in handy, since they produced a soundtrack to an e-book called 'Monstrocity' by science fiction author Jeffrey Thomas. Obviously I didn't read that book, since I'm not a big lover of science fiction and don't like e-books, so its a bit hard to tell how this sound track works. I am sure one can't read the book within the thirty three minutes this album lasts, which is divided in eleven tracks. Its a varied bunch of pieces, which shows more Zoviet France and Nurse With Wound than Stockhausen or Cage. Quite electronic in approach, with loops of electronics, occasional Arcane Device like feedback, cut up of voices and rhythms. Without having a clue what the book is about, I think the album stands pretty much by itself also, as a highly varied bunch of electronic music. At times moody and atmospheric, and at others almost cheery. Not every track is equally great, such as the ethnic 'First Remark' or the overtly simple rhythm of 'Gumming A Hoof', but through this was a pretty much alright release. I am not convinced to go out and read the book straight away, but as said, by itself it makes a nice collection of experimental electronics. And the element of cosmic music is only mildly present here, as to proof not all science fiction leads to cosmics! (FdW) Address:


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