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Vital Weekly 799

img  Tobias Fischer

MARK MCGUIRE - GET LOST (CD by Editions Mego)
ANGEL - 26000 (CD by Editions Mego)
A trio of new releases by Editions Mego, of which the first one sees another (yet another?) release by Mark McGuire, the guitarist of Emeralds and also very active when it comes to his own music, which is partly based in the cosmic world of Emeralds, but also more guitar based. And what's new (I think, as I don't know his entire output) is that he is singing. This album, recorded between June 2010 and July 2011, sees him playing electric and acoustic guitar, vocals and guitar synthesizer. Six tracks, of which the latter is 'side long', as this is also available on vinyl. What can we say? A gentle record! Easy strumming, rolling synth like sounds and a voice that didn't blow me away particularly, with the long spacious 'Firefly Constellations' being the prize winner. I think McGuire's music deserves longitude, to explore those somewhat cosmic routings better, but having said that, the short pieces are equally nice and I thought this is easily a guy you can invite to do a 7" for your label and he will come up with a popsong, shaped by his imaginative power. In one or way or another I was reminded of the more singer songwriter qualities of Accelera Deck. Laidback music.
Also Bill Orcutt, formerly of Harry Pussy, presents another solo CD on Mego, following the (re-issue) release of 'A New Way To Pay Old Debts' (see Vital Weekly 763), but this is all new stuff from spring 2011. Style-wise Orcutt's continues from that previous release, with some heavy acoustic guitar abuse. Orcutt doesn't play the guitar in any sense that requires effort or style, but by doing exactly what he does he creates his own style. Imagine an abstract and the uninitiated will say "oh my 4 year old can do this too'… this CD could easily evoke a similar response. That is of course until you try to do it, and it turns out not to be as easy as you thought (believe me, I tried this too!). A rockin' heavy treatment, no, hold on, abuse of the acoustic guitar with very few moments of tranquility, such as in 'Heaven Is Closed To Me Now'. A throat grabbing killer of a record. More refined, if such a word of course can applied to things like this, than its predecessor, but altogether another strong album.
Angel, being the on and off collaboration between Pan Sonic's Ilpo Vaisanen and Schneider TM's Dirk Dresselhaus has been going since 1999 (although the first release was in 2002) and now releases their sixth album, with guest appearances of Hildur Gudnadottir, BJ Nilsen and Oren Ambarchi. Vaisanen and Dresselhaus use a variety of instruments, such as glassbowls, metal objects, pieces of wood, grass, birds, dragonflies, lake echo, smoking box as well as 'regular electronic equipment and acoustic instruments. Plus, I'd say, lots of sound effects. The music has very little to do with that of Pan Sonic and Schneider ™. This is much more an album of moods and textures - like before actually. How exactly these textures are created, I don't know, but they work pretty well, especially in the long piece which they recorded with Oren Ambarchi, for me easily the best piece of the CD. Slow music, with lots of field recordings, sturdy electronic processing thereof, but also with a weird percussive piece like 'In' and its counterpart 'Out'. Those two pieces sound like odd balls at the beginning, but are place on the CD in such a way that it does make great sense, perfect counterpoints in the world of otherworldly drone music. (FdW)


Its been years since I saw a packed Extrapool watching The Vegetable Orchestra, a twelve piece group from Vienna, which is exactly that: twelve people performing music using 'the acoustic qualities of vegetables': roots, legumes, cabbages and courgettes. It was great, but perhaps after a while the idea ran out, I thought. This is only their third CD and although I was sure I heard a CD from them before, I couldn't find the evidence. Without the visual element, one could think its perhaps less interesting, but while keeping in mind that what you are vegetables, I think this is a pretty strong release. They use record players and drills also to create their music, and it has a rich flavor, this music. Percussive, almost techno like at times, but also dense crackling, such as in 'Regen', which is the Dutch (!) for rain and it exactly sounds like that. A jungle like atmosphere is put forward in 'Brazil', true noise in 'Krautrock', including a bunch of distortion pedals, or 'Bohnen', postrock meets techno like in 'Scoville' or 'Transplants' and ethnic music in 'Malang'. There is even a cover of John Cage's '4'33' called '(…)'. That all makes this a mixed bag of music, which may work a bit against the CD. It may come across as a bit of a show-off - look what we can do with vegetables and music - but I guess, its more than that. A genuine love for all sorts of music played by highly irregular sound sources. An excellent CD I thought. (FdW)


IT - CRYING GAMES (CD by Zavod Atol)
Zavod Atol is a kind of sub-division of RX:TX and here they present a rather nice box with separate inserts and a bundle of cassette tape. iT stands for Irena Tomazin and she works since 2006 with dictaphones and cassette recorders, playing at a whole bunch of festivals and has played with a whole bunch of people like Liz Allbee, Seijiro Murayama, Lydia Lunch and others. Her voice is her primary instrument and what she creates is best described as sound poetry. There are places where I am reminded me Ante Greier/AGF, but less the electronics. Tomazin uses tape-loops (or maybe electronically generated ones) and over them she talks, sings, howls and stretches otherwise her vocal chords. This is then taped on cassettes and dictaphones, sometimes played along with a new recording of her singing (etc.), which adds a nice raw edge to the pieces. Yoko Ono I was thinking of in some of her older, radical records with good ol John. A very intimate and private release of poetic gestures and a fine sense of experimentalism. Refined sensibilities. (FdW)


LIFTING IVERSEN (CD compilation by Tib Prod)
On the subject of compilations and remixes I wrote before, a lot probably, but here we go again. Generally I think a remix should bring the original it is remixing to a new land. U2 remixed Tiesto means that the trance kids listen to U2 and may buy their records, and vice versa. Its a marketing tool. If you get your work remixed by your musical peers, then what is the point? Does one think that the fans of say Kai Kobi Mikalsen run out to buy all of Iversen because of his remix on this CD, or vice versa? That is hard to believe. Three years ago Iversen mailed out some sounds, mainly to his Norwegian friends, aswell as Robert Horton and Tzesne, in order to get a remix. he got fourteen pieces, all collected on this CD. Its music making as great form of passing time - always better than creating war I'd say. Many of these people operate from the world of more drones, more processing, be it a bit more microsounding or a bit noisy. Two of them do something different: Xerxes plays a Kraftwerkian synth piece (which indeed made me curious about his other work) and HoH creates a pop piece, including an acoustic guitar. Other tracks are by Adults With Chicks, Terje Paulsen, Nils Rostad, Pal Asle Pettersen, Kaoss 99, Sirk, Kjetil Hanssen, Roar Borge and Sindre Bjerga. For those who cherish the underground that much I think. But throughout its indeed a nice compilation. (FdW) Address:


This is not a review. Its a personal thing, and you hate that, skip it. Taylor Deupree is, these days, best known for his work with microscopic ambient music. Less known is that in the early 90s he was part of a dance oriented scene playing at raves. That changed when he started 12K in 1997, but nevertheless he did three 12"s for a Dutch label, Audio.NL, with some of his minimalist techno music, with already traces of his later ambient work. If you wouldn't know Taylor's old music and just his more recent music, than you'd be having a hard job recognizing this. Why is this a personal thing, for me? Simply because Audio.NL was operated by the three members of Goem, in which I had some say too. Not wanting to pay tax, we invested our earnings in a label, which ran its course in the earlier part of this century, bringing great records by Komet, Motor, Auch and this trio of platters from Deupree. So its hard to be objective about this (I got this free copy because my name is on it, but also with a press text, so perhaps its a review copy?). I must admit I haven't played any of those thirty-three Audio.NL in some time, but while hearing this, I remember how great I thought that music was then, and now. Strange minimalist rhythms, not always that groovy ('Tokei 1' for instance), but with crisp clear beats, minimal synths (title piece could have been from Wolfgang Voigt) and likewise minimal beats, but the beauty is here in the details of the sound. Excellent to have this on CD finally, including two unreleased pieces from the same time. This is a not a review, but an add. (FdW)


MACHINEFABRIEK - BRIDGES (2LP by Machinefabriek)
Images of this album have been shown around Facebook, Twitter and such like, and already met great acclaim and indeed: what a cover! So, what is it? Not easy to tell. Rutger Zuydervelt, the fabriek that is a machine, recorded four different bridges between Sinderen and Nijmegen (ho! ho!) in The Netherlands, along with visual material by designer Gerco Hiddink. He created a great visual work, which is displayed on the cover but also on the two picture discs themselves. A great visual thing. The field recordings were then passed onto eight musicians, all from the world of improvisation and asked to improvise along with the material and send it to Zuydervelt, who then mixed all of it together, in pairs of two players at a time. Quite a complicated scheme, I'd say, but the result is very nice. Zuydervelt has grouped the players, so there are saxophones played by Jim Denley and Espen Reinertsen, percussion piece by Burkhard Beins and Jon Mueller, saxophone by Mats Gustafsson and trumpet by Nate Wooley, bass drum and crotales by Erik Carlsson along with drums and amplified roto tom by Steven Hess. Not always the field recordings sound: they seem almost absent on the Muller/Beins side, but do play a big role on the one by Denley/Reinertsen, and in the Carlsson/Hess piece the many cars passing the Nijmegen bridge are also considerably important. Some of this playing, on all four sides, sound like they were done together, rather than separate. Excellent work all around, some great music, excellent images, and a fine concept behind all of this. Hard to tell who did what, and that's in this ego-world a great thing.
The other new Machinefabriek record is from his ongoing collaboration with contrabass clarinet player Gareth Davis. One particular fruitful day in June 2009 lead, within days to the first release, a small limited edition release, 'Ghost Lanes', about which I wrote back then (Vital Weekly 687): " However I must admit the music of 'Ghost Lanes' didn't grab me at all. Its very much improvised music but it lacks tension. Things drag on and on, a bit of loops, some free whistle and some cracks. On the middle part, around the ten minute break revealed some of the classic Machinefabriek drones and careful playing of the contrabass clarinet. The otherwise fine formed Machinefabriek let me down with this piece. To haphazard or perhaps his speed of working works against being critical?". Now that piece is re-released on the a-side of this record and I still think its not their finest moment, also taking in account the other releases they did together. In August last year the two met up again, and again at Steim and then they recorded the b-side 'Mackerel Sky'. Still it deals heavily with the improvised playing of the clarinet, but Zuydervelt's dense knitting of guitar sounds saves the piece in the end for me. At the same time I must admit I am not blown away by it. (FdW)


XELA - THE SUBLIME (LP by Dekorder)
A bundle of new releases on Dekorder (see also previous review) sees the return of Astral Social Club, Sculpture and Xela. For Neil Campbell's Astro Social Club its his second release on Dekorder, the previous I think was not reviewed in Vital Weekly. Campbell has used many roads to create music, and with the Club he explores something we could call rhythm & noise. He samples a bit of rhythm from something (perhaps some piece of vinyl, tape, glitch or another bump in the road) and feeds that through a bunch of signal processors, effects and synthesizers and records all incoming signals in order to do a mix out of them. He arrives at a somewhat unique sound that blends many interests. The rhythm has something vaguely techno-based, yet its a very basic rhythm that just goes on and on. But on top of that he puts on a swirling mass of sound of psychedelic sounds, unisono with the original rhythm and it makes a dense but clear pattern of music. It maintains that improvised feel also, which we know from his old days with Sunroof! and Vibracathedral Orchestra. Vibrant music indeed. Not really a dance sort of record, despite all the bouncing that goes on. By now even for the Club standard procedure but with a man like Campbell I am not surprised if he's already planning his next move. The ever-changing unique character of Campbell. Excellent.
John Twells, also known as Xela completes his trilogy of LPs for Dekorder, after 'The Illuminated' (see Vital Weekly 666) and 'The Divine' (see Vital Weekly 732). Drone music. That's what it is here. Hardly a surprise if you know the previous two records or perhaps his other work. I thought 'The illuminated' was very good, and 'The Divine' was half good, while the other half was alright. That's also what I think of this new one. 'Lust & Paradise' is fine, but not great. A drone piece, but perhaps a bit working from specific standards and not carving something of its own. The other side however, 'Eve's Riposte' is great. This has a deep organ like sound, while there is again, like on 'Of The Light And Of The Stars' from 'The Divine' a mass of voice like sounds to be detected here. Slowly evolving, majestically moving, this is a great piece, which reminded me at times of Machinefabriek.Maybe Dekorder should consider doing a best of CD from these three records? I know which pieces I'd like on there.
Also Sculpture presents a new record. A duo of Dan Hayhurst and Reuben Sutherland, whose first LP was reviewed in Vital Weekly 752. Sutherland is responsible for the visual side of the band - again a picture disc - and Hayhurst does the music, which is a most odd version of techno inspired rhythms, but coming along with the most crazy textures from electronics and tape montages. A sort of plunderphonics, but kept at a very basic improvising level. More than before I think its all a bit too improvised for me this time around. Whereas I think the ideas are quite nice, the way its worked out is not always great. Hayhurst lets his sounds run around through an array of sound effects, but hardly ever seems to form or mould them into a great composition. That I think is a bit of the weakness of this record. Easily with a bit more work, I think this could really be very good, more powerful and much richer in sound. All the right elements are there, now shape 'm up. (FdW) Address:


MICHAEL PERKINS - MR 666 (LP by Ghost Arcade Ltd)
Back in Vital Weekly 605 I reviewed a 12" by Mandate, which was quite a techno/acid sort of thing, which I enjoyed. I didn't have many infos to go by, but behind Mandate was one Michael Perkins, who now goes by his own name, and a change of musical direction is what prompted that. Perkins is from 'the current home of modern death synth', Chicago (I didn't know that was how they called the windy city now) and he plays in various bands, such as Sig Transit Gloria, Written In The Sand, Far Rad and Aspic Tines. Perkins is a man to love his synthesizers and that's what he's showing here, attaching himself to the wonderful world of cosmic music. More Vangelis, Tangerine Dream arpeggio's, but with a menacing undercurrent, which makes the whole thing a bit darker. Perkins' rhythms are simple and to the point, providing that Germaniac drive (think Neu!) to the music, and he has some darker tunes for melody. All analogue know twiddling, which is of course what we want from this kind of music. This is an excellent record with a handful pieces, each taking up more than the average pop length to explore what each track is about and take you on that cosmic journey. At times dark at as the sky above, at night, and Perkins is at the controls of his space ship. Take us away again on that ride in the sky! (FdW)


ZOMBI - SLOW OSCILLATIONS (7" by Static Caravan)
COCOONS - EARLING (playbutton by Static Caravan)
Steve Moore is a synth player and has created a bunch of really nice, really spacious synth records, fitting in nicely with the current trend of cosmic music. He's also a member of a duo called Zombi, together with drummer A.E. Paterra. I reviewed a CD by them before (see Vital Weekly 783), which I really liked for its motorik drive. Maybe not entirely the kind of music you would expect on a 7", but the two versions of 'Slow Oscillations' (one of them being the demo version) are fit to be released on such a format - although a 10" would have been nicer. A driving rhythm, fine arpeggio and a shimmering melody throughout. Excellent little rocker.
And just what is a playbutton? Over the years Vital Weekly reviewed CDs, CDRs, vinyl in all shapes and rpms, books, video's, DVDs, USB drives and god knows what else, but a playbutton? This is a button, like you had when you were young and a punkrocker, but this has no doubt some bad ecological footprint design armed with a chip and music, complete with a headphone output, and a cable with plug/usb connection. The button has a play/pauze button and, which is really interesting I think, also a button to fiddle with the EQ-ing. Cocoons is a quartet of Hannah Peel on vocals, Justin Wiggan on electronics/synths, Coti K on bowed flower pot, double bass and file manipulations and Laurence Hunt on drums. One song here (obviously) of an improvised nature, with Peel's voice more humming than singing words, although she does, and the other trio freely work their instruments. Quite an unusual piece for the Static Caravan catalogue, but surely more up the Vital area, and its quite good. Certainly in every inch an item to surprise anyone these days! (FdW)


Still pretty hot on the heels of his 7" for the same label, see Vital Weekly 785, here is a full length LP of Sean Baxter, one of Australia's finest when it comes to improvised music for percussion. He has worked with Anthony Pateras and David Brown and no doubt loads of others - but the best one was that trio disc of them reviewed in Vital Weekly 427. As said in Vital Weekly 785: "next time a 10" please", and somebody must have heard this, and we are granted a LP. 'All work comprise single-take improvisations on an acoustic drumkit, with no overdubs or processing', as it reads on the cover. Now this is a pretty interesting record: on one hand we recognize indeed the drumkit being played, but just exactly how many hands and feet does Baxter have? At times one could easily think he has more than two hands and two feet. He plays this kit with considerable imagination and almost in a 'jazz-electro-acoustic' fusion way. The rolls maybe jazz like, but the rattling of bells, the scraping of cymbals, bowing of hi-hats and objects (metal wire, plastic) on the various skins make this all very electro-acoustic also. An excellent record, with some highly varied pieces of music on it. Eight diamonds of improvised acoustic playing. Hard to believe its all done in a single take with no overdubs, but it really says so on the cover. Stunning. (FdW)


DEREK PIOTR - AGORA (CDR by Bitsquare)
Two weeks ago I came across a track by Derek Piotr on a compilation dealing with hommages to the work of Stan Brakhage and it stood out for its whispering voices. Perhaps that review inspired Piotr to send me a copy of his CDR released in July? Its his second release and deals with voice and electronics. Like the release by iT reviewed elsewhere this too is heavily inspired by Antye Greie/AGF who offered technical assistance on a half the pieces. Like the ancient Agora, the meeting place, Piotr samples together voices from various cultures, while singing, rapping, talking along with these glitchy samples - perhaps one could (perhaps too easily) say like AGF does. Piotr's work is however a bit more straight forward than AGF's work. His tracks are a bit longer and deal more with sequenced rhythms (perhaps also derived from voices I wondered). Not every moment is great, such as 'Behaviour State' with its too opera-like singing set against a rather simple techno beat, but throughout these pieces are quite alright. Not entirely free of AGF influences, nor with the same refinement, but altogether a most promising start. (FdW) Address:


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