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Vital Weekly 796+797

img  Tobias Fischer

"The Waste Land" is a 1922 poem by T.S. Eliot and its fourth part is the inspiration for 'Death By Water' by Italian composers Valerio Tricoli (of 3/4Hadbeeneliminated fame and his recent work with Thomas Ankersmit is still not forgotten) and a new name Fabio Selvafiorita, of whom this is the first release. Although he has a degree in computer music, the idea behind this release was to use as little as possible from the world of sound processing by computer. They recorded the material at the Fiudecca Island in Venice and processed it with Tricoli's Revox recorder, as well as adding a polystyrene ("a kind of futuristic intonarumori"), a mandolin and an organ. Maybe its because we know its based on a poem, but indeed it sounds like a narrative piece of music. Electro-acoustic music that is, largely based on field recordings, carefully processed and layered with some beautiful textures. Not drone like, but crackling of wind in trees, water sounds, maybe even voices whispering. Not always too quiet, or rather more often not really quiet, with a cicada like choir around the thirty-five minute break, all ending a gorgeous lament like 'song' at the end. Excellent narrative music, fully immersing the listener. (FdW) Address:


Alessandro Bosetti is composer and multi-instrumental musician. On the album 'Royals' he plays piano, Wurlitzer piano, soprano saxophone, guitar, harpsichord and uses his own voice, electronics and field-recordings to complete his musical world. He gets support of Rozemarie Heggen on double bass and the voices of Fernanda Farah, Ksenija Stevanovic and Christopher Williams. Voice and music are important ingredients of this music. The first track 'Gloriously Repeating' is complex piece of modern electronic music built up with several voices and based on structure against non-structure. Harmony against disharmony in which he is gloriously repeating himself in several manners and repeating himself without repeating himself. 'Life Expectations' is based on words of Chris Heenan and Fernanda Farah. This composition has the same complexity as the first one, but only Bosseti's voice and music are more integrated and the sounds have an open character and moves to a more closed mood. At the last track 'Dead Man' starts also as an open composition with a clear structure, but becomes more and more abstract supported by ongoing piano-lines. This piece of music hits me, maybe because of the length (7 minutes). The other composition takes 17 and 24 minutes and I cannot keep the attention to several atmospheres and complex melody-lines, contra-points etcetera. Although for lovers of electronic avant garde music is this album highly recommended. (Jan-Kees Helms)


A duet of acoustic guitar (played by Elliott Sharp) and bass clarinet (by Gareth Davis). The latter we know from his various collaborations with Rutger Zuydervelt, also known as Machinefabriek (and he who designed this CD) and Sharp is a long term mainstay of the New York improvised music scene. Recorded in a single day, april 5th 2010 at Sharp's own studio, this is a meeting of two like minded musicians: open and gifted with the talent of fine improvisation. Two different instruments, one with a more short attack and the other able to produce short sounds as well as long sustaining ones, both played in such a way that we recognize what they are, obviously also because are trained listeners of improvised music, but its seems not their intention to far beyond what their instruments normally sound like. There is a great tension between both players resulting in some highly exciting music. Each piece has the right length, and it never seems overtly long or leap into weaker moments. A fine work.
Which, to spoil the end, can also be said of the meeting of two Japanese improvisers, Tetuzi Akiyama (acoustic guitar) and Takuji Kawai on 'piano and preparations'. I don't think I heard of him before, but Akiyama I know pretty well, and is great improviser on the six strings. They too recorded one day together, september 14th 2009 if you need to know, and the cover says mixed by Toshimaru Nakamura, which means, I think that, that the whole sound was picked up by a multitude of microphones and later on mixed together. A great sound actually, despite all the empty playing, its very full of dynamics. Here too, and that's what ties these two releases together, we have two gifted improvisers, and both are not so much interested in using their instruments as resonating sound boxes, but both instruments sound like a guitar and piano. The main difference with the disc of Sharp/Davis is that this one is more open, more spacious and at times also more 'empty' and silent, and not as 'full' as Davis/Sharp. But as said at the start, this too is a great disc of improvised music. Two great works. (FdW)


MERZBOW - DEAD ZONE (CD by Quasipop)
EDWARD SOL - TASMA GANG BANG (business card CDR by Quasipop)
EDWARD SOL - MOTELS & CUPIDS (cassette by Quasipop)
Quasipop is a label from the Ukraine and there we also find Chernobyl, which exploded twenty-five years ago. On the day that Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant exploded, march 12th of this year, Merzbow decided to record this anti-nuclear statement, giving it to Quasipop, to tie things together. As I must have written before, its never easy to review Merzbow, since he releases a lot of music and since I already reviewed a lot of his music. The most interesting piece here is 'The Blade Of Oblivion', which is also noise based, like of course so much else from Merzbow, but has a nice disjointed effect. Chaotic ramble of metallic percussion, electronics and chaos all around. Within his own limited circle of noise, this one sounded a bit different than much of his other material. The other three pieces were alright, but fit more his self-inflicted concept of noise, which so many seem to cherish. Maybe, just maybe, I was thinking that it would be good to move away a bit more from the straight forward noise improvisation - record on the spot - and go for something that is multi-layered and perhaps, dare I say it (?), more composed. Fans can't go wrong with this one.
Label owner Edward Sol fills up many releases on his own label, and usually quite short ones, such as the business card CDR with 'no actually xxx hardcore samples used' in 'Tasma Gang Bang'. It does, however use 'VHS cuts, cassette loops, tapes, analogue synth and Casio drum machine' and its a heavy five minute slab of industrial rhythm mayhem, with people shouting in the background, and distorted rhythm on top, with the synth spacing out. Maybe an almighty cliche but it works well. Nice package too!
More of his music on the three piece cassette 'Motels & Cupids', where he uses 'tapes, found sounds and electronics'. This lasts about twenty or so minutes. Here too he taps into a familiar form of music, being the more intellectual approach of noise music, of mildly distorted sounds that has been found (radio, tapes, vinyl) and not necessarily add much. There is also the sound of hiss from cassettes, field recordings and electronic processings thereof, which make up a dense, partly drone set of pieces that I personally like better than the business card CDR, which I thought was more 'funny' than really good. This cassette is very nice however, although not entirely original, but surely one of the better works by Sol I heard so far. (FdW)


Lawrence English get inspired The Peregrine of the English author John Alec Baker. The book was declared as one of the most beautifully written, carefully observed and evocative wildlife ever read. The peregrines wintered near the house of the author in eastern England. The author gives a lot of attention to the description of the landscape, sounds of the River and the movements of clouds. The same attention is hearable in the album of Lawrence English. He is a media-artist, composer and curator based in Australia. His work has been released by his own Room40 label, as well as Touch, 12K and Winds Measure. The Peregrine was realized in sound during the first half of 2011. The two compositions are intense pieces of long lasting multi-layered melodic lines which suggests as it the peregrine is flying in the sky in several circumstances. The album starts with sounds like a monk choir and church organ flood into this ongoing canto. Intense more noisy distorted layers create a massive harmonious wall of sound which takes the listener to a storm. Silence is mostly the next moment after the storm and quietly English builds this silent moment to several sound layers which come and go. The strength of this album is the creation of an intense atmosphere which is overwhelming. The peregrine is one of the most fast flying birds in the world and the power and speed of this bird of prey is beautiful converted in this album. I am really impressed by this album which is a great abstraction of the power of nature. (Jan-Kees Helms)


ECHTZEIT MUSIK BERLIN (book by Wolke Verlag)
GORDON MONAHEN - SEEING SOUND (book/DVD by The Robert McLaughlin Gallery)
Not always, but when it comes to listening to music, I engage in various other activities. Depending on the kind of music and wether or not I am supposed to review the music. When it comes to reading, I prefer to read a book on music, this summer that was the autobiography of Keith Richards (which didn't exactly prompt me into listening to anything he was ever involved in) and the lengthy biography on the band Madness - now that brought back everything to the player. Now when that was finished, three new books arrived in one week! From Berlin there is a 400+ page book on the improvised music scene, 'Echtzeit Musik', which means real time music. I love Berlin, but I couldn't live there (or anywhere else other than my beloved Nijmegen, where there is no scene of anything, which allows you to go to a punk rock concert and after that meet everyone up at the disco). I wouldn't want to move to where the 'action' is (Berlin?), but rather try and organize occasional action myself. How tiring it must be to be in a city where you can go to a great concert every night? Enough rambling about the pros and cons of urban life, the book please. Now, Berlin has indeed an active scene of live music, not just of an improvised kind but also noise, microsound, trash pop, free jazz and everything in between. Lots of players live in Berlin, simply because its a big city with still cheap areas. As a friend of mine once said: in Berlin you can live easily as a musician but don't expect to earn your money there. There are lots of small performance places, living rooms in some instances, where you can find new music. This book tells that tale, with pieces by and interviews with all those people active in Berlin. It deals with the theoretical discussions of the scene, throughout with pieces from many familiar Vital Weekly names, such as Lucio Capece, Ignaz Schick, Michael Vorfeld, Franz Hautzinger, Andrea Neuman, Ekkehard Ehlers, Olaf Rupp but also on the historical side of places and people. In two languages, English and German, and quite an essential read for anybody who reads Vital Weekly, although not always the most easy reading.
In three languages (English, German and French) comes the book on Gordon Monahen, who is from Canada, but also lived in Berlin for a while, where he has his own club, Schmalzwald. This book deals with his work from 1978 to 2011, with pieces on his work, but also an extensive description of the works he composed in those years, such as various pieces dealing with wind and piano, and his most famous piece, 'Speaker Swinging' (which I once saw and this love very much). Much of his work is not just to hear, but also to see, hence the title, and hence the addition of a DVD. Its great to see an excerpt of 'Speaker Swinging', but also the registration of his installation pieces, with water and wind harps, machines/robotic pieces (which in 'Sounds And The Machines That Make Them' looks like a Barry Schwartz piece), concert registration ('New And Used Furniture Music') or amplified food in 'Sauerkraut Synthesizer'. Maybe it takes away a bit of the 'mystery' now we see them, but I thought it was great to see many of them. A true fascinating view on music and together with the book an excellent overview of a great career (so far!).
Of an entirely different nature is a book compiled by Steve Roden, which deals with 'music in vernacular photographs 1880-1955', which is a photobook of old photographs that deal with music. Sepia toned pictures of people with violin, banjo, piano's and gramophones - when the world was so much a better place (this may be regarded as a bit cynical). Add to that two CDs worth of found sounds, from wax rolls and 78 rpms of those people singing, from amateurs to high brow, this is a true nostalgic trip into the early american musical history. A fine book and two fine CDs - now that's without any cynicism - for a melancholic, lazy sunday afternoon. (FdW)


A curious trio of D'incise (laptop, objects), Marcel Chagrin (guitar, amp, bass drum) and Pedro Sousa (tenor sax, electronics) under the name Heu{s-k}ach & Pedro Sousa. Recorded over day in April 2010 in Lisbon, they offer four pieces of dense improvised music, carefully humming about, where each of the players seems to have the intention of being close to each other. I am not sure if that is really the intention or perhaps shyness on behalf of the players, but either way: I think it sounds great. These pieces are intense affairs, full of tension, like waiting for that storm that never comes (must be a 2011 summer feel in The Netherlands), with a great collision of acoustic sounds and electronics. Rumbling of objects, sustaining saxophones and the bass drum holding matters together. The fourth piece, 'Bruno's Dream' leans towards jazz, but in the context seems to work quite well. A fine work altogether. (FdW)


There is not a lot of information to go by on the release by Goh Lee Kwang - I have no idea what is 'Hidden' here, except perhaps any information. Goh Lee Kwang is best known as an improviser using no input mixers and turntables, so my best guess would be that he uses something similar here in this one piece that lasts just over fifty five minutes. Some of his earlier material I thought was too noisy, and this one isn't entirely free from noise either but throughout the main part isn't as noise based, although working with feedback/sine wave like sounds, crackles and distortion. Kwang works here with dynamics which is always a good thing and its also divided into various sections, each with their mood. Especially the part after twenty minutes to say thirty-five minutes is particular interesting with dense patterns, click like rhythms and bits of reverb/delay machines. The loud end section on the other hand is not too well spend on me. But throughout I thought this was the best release by Goh Lee Kwang I heard so far. (FdW) Address:


AGF - BEATNADEL (CD by AGF Producktion)
With the (slow) ticking of the clock, a new CD by AGF arrives, one in ever two years, or a little quicker (see Vital Weekly 700 and 611 and count the months), or perhaps I sometimes miss out on some? AGF, you may know, stands for Antye Greie, once half of Laub but already since many years active as a solo act fusing poetry, voice, language and electronic music. Its not easy to see much different between 'Beatnadel' and 'Einzelkampfer', the release I reviewed in Vital Weekly 700. Still its not easy to hear what this poetry is about, still she uses clicks, cuts, a lost beat, whispering words and sometimes some understandable phrases occur. Like I wrote before I am not always particular fond of music that is used to set poetry to, perhaps preferring a 'real' song instead, or just instrumental music, I however must say I like AGF's work quite a bit. Its a fine balance between instrumental, vocal and poetry and especially in her use of that with microsound, ambient, glitch and clicks 'n cuts, she carved out a niche for her own with is largely unprecedented. That makes her work quite unique. AGF's claim that this work is a bit louder and more aggressive is solely hers, its not something I can vouch for, although perhaps the beats at times sound indeed a bit louder.. It's another fine work for sure. (FdW) Address:


With a band like Splashgirl you may expect something entirely than what they actually produce. Its a trio from Norway of Andreas Stensland Lowe (piano, synths, electronics), Jo Berger Myhre (double bass, Drone Commander) and Andreas Lonmo Knudsrod (drums, percussion etc.). Their first release, 'Arbor' was also the first release for Hubro. Now its time for their second release, which is again largely acoustic, but there are also guests appearing here, playing, adding, guitar, trombone, tuba, tape feedback and field recordings and vocals. Seeing all the previous reviews quoted on the press release, it seems that Splashgirl might be regarded as a jazz band, but I don't think they are, at least not entirely. But then what exactly it is, I don't know either. It isn't post rock (entirely) or improvised, or jazz, but it has a strange attraction around it: melancholic music, with bits of slide guitar here and there, evoking a western, desolated soundtrack style. Mostly introvert, Splashgirl never leaps out, but can rise high with 'The Other Side', with its fine soaring trombone and post rock climax. Nicely long tracks with room for each one to develop and spacious playing. Maybe its partly improvised, come to think of it, or maybe its jazzy come to think of it… god, I don't know really. What I do know is that I very much enjoyed the mood and textures played by this instrumental rock band. Very refined. (FdW)


From the ever prolific musician Aidan Baker comes another release, and again (?) its a re-issue of a limited run CDR, this one from 2007. Its a single piece of music, spanning almost fifty minutes. Its also a narrative piece, since it deals with the voice of Romeo Daillaire, a Canadian general who was head of the UN troops in Rwanda, trying to stop the genocide. Ultimately, when back in Canada, he suffered from post-traumatic stress and attempted suicide in 2000. The word 'suicide', whispered, lingers throughout this piece. Baker adds guitar and tape loops and creates a haunting piece of drone music. The album is remastered by James Plotkin, who brings out even more depth (I should think) than the original, which I haven't heard. Baker around with many layers of guitar sounds, looping them around and generating largely a sort of organ like drone, that works its way up and up until say the thirty minute mark and then slowly goes down and down, all with that whispering set of voices. Towards the end (the last eight minutes), the voice changes from whispering the word 'suicide' to something which I couldn't understand either, 'evil' and 'I became suicidal' pops up every now and then, but which adds to the drama of the whole piece. Like said, a narrative piece of music of an utter dramatic impact. Frightening, sad and beautiful. One of his best releases I heard! (FdW) Address:


THREE YEARS IN NODAR (book plus 2CDs by Edicoes Nodar)
More books. The fourth one in two weeks. This is a hardcover bound, 315 page book on a small village in Portugal, called Nodar. From 2007 to 2009 artists visited this village to create site specific works and this can be seen as the catalogue of that. Not just music, but also visual arts and community projects, all of which are described in this book, both in Portuguese and English. Idyllic I'd say, this rural village in the hills, with streams, green grass and no doubt good food. This will make you jealous. On the two CDs we find results of the various sound artists who worked in this place. The book details their work through words so everything is pretty clear. Lots of wind/water pieces (by say Jason Kahn, Satoshi Morita, Aaron Ximm, Wolfgang Dorninger) but also water tanks (Maksims Shentelevs, almost musical with resonating metal), combinations of field recordings and electronics (Ben Owen, John Grzinich, Rui Costa, Pali Mersault), vegetables (Xesus Valle). The second disc has a more musical approach, with folk like music (Martin Clarke), electro-acoustic music (in 'Music For Five Instruments And A Gun' by Arnold Haber or Dennis BathoryKitsz and Melanie Velarde)), vocalizations (Manuela Barila), football match (Duncan Whitley), tea party (Keiko Uenishi), animal sounds (Marta Bernardes & Ignacio Martinez), interview/documentary like (Viv Corringham and Maile Colbert). Whereas the first CD focusses on field recordings, isolated from much human action, the second CD deals with Nodar as a community. It sounds like an idyllic place indeed. They can invite me anytime - I may even do work there! (FdW) Address:


Two recordings from two locations, which provided the titles for these pieces, in two countries but with the same three musicians: Eden Carrasco (alto sax), Leonel Kaplan (trumpet) and Christof Kurzmann on lloopp, which the same kind of software that Fennesz uses. A recording from Buenos Aires and one from Santiago. Two pieces, just over forty minutes, of very careful, silent improvisation. Despite the fact that I think I never heard of Carrasco and Kaplan, they seem to fit in nicely with that particular group of careful and silent improvisers, who sometimes use their instruments as objects. The three of them make a nice play together, listening to each other, interacting and opposing each other. Both pieces are very well made, requiring a lot of concentration from the listener to join into this careful world. That said, I must also admit that at the same time I didn't hear much news under the sun of this kind of music. An exploration of a path that is already quite well known. In itself fine pieces of music, well done, great recording but perhaps a bit too well-known. (FdW)
Address: none given

PBK - WARFARE STATE/APPEAL (2 cassettes by Impulsy Stetoskopu)
Polish label Impulsy Stetoskopu does some good work unearthing obscure musicians through their multi-volume encyclopedia of industrial music and at the same time re-releases long forgotten works. Here we have two early works by Phillip B. Klingler, also known as PBK, which is the name he uses since 1988. 'Warfare State' and 'Appeal' were releases on his own - not on label as discogs would say - and date from 1988. Over those many years PBK has dabbled in electronic music, going from the good ol' industrial music, to more structured pieces - composed if you will - and also improvised music. Although never 'away', they was a quite a gap of hardly any new work in the late 90s, early 00s. But he's back and so people seek out his older work and if industrial music is your cup of tea and you like to investigate this particular part of his work, this double cassette is a good place to start. 'Warfare State' is a particular harsher affair of distorted electronics and only a desolated trumpet plays a part in 'Ursonate' (at least, if I counted the tracks right). Crashing and cascading - typical music of the late 80s. 'Appeal' is softer in approach and for me at least the more interesting tape of this package. Of course this too is all electronic, but it has some great dynamics. Here PBK can sink to an almost inaudible level and put on some delicate sounds, before leaping into a tape loop of industrial, mechanized rhythms. 'Appeal' is also classic PBK music, and of the two the better one, I think, more appealing to me (pun intended). Excellent retro music, and a nice archival find. (FdW) Address:


JASON KAHN - WALCHETURM (cassette by Banned Production)
Cassettes are a great way to get your music out there, and might be the stepping stone for CD or vinyl releases. But nowadays, with the resurrection of the medium also something to try out something that you are working on, an experimental stage or perhaps a work with lesser commercial potential. Jason Kahn's pieces on this cassette is a mixture of all of it. The artcentre Walcheturm in Zurich is a large space with quite some resonances. Kahn set up a mixing board, contact microphone, radio and a electro magnetic conductor and placed a microphone close to the speaker, one further away in the space and simultaneously doing a line recording. It all comes down to mixes these various stages and do a great cassette. That's one thing: an experimental set up to try out something. Another aspect is that it seems to me that Kahn is doing something that he normally doesn't do. It has some elements of the music of Kahn that we know, the static minimal hiss like sounds, but throughout it seems that this work is a bit more louder, more improvised and using more isolated sounds than much of the work we know from him, released on CD/CDR. I am not entirely if the large resonant space is sounding enough here: everything still seems pretty close up-front, save perhaps for some far away textures, but that might be due to the those textures just low in the mix. Quite an interesting release, I'd say, and certainly a direction for Kahn to explore further, both the technique to record such music, as well as the more improvised playing of such soundmaterial. A well-done experiment. (FdW) Address:


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