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Vital Weekly 800

img  Tobias Fischer

'Recycling' is a word not many people use these days in relation to music. 'Remix' is the more appropriate word, according to them. 'Recycling' however is the term that appeals to Asmus Tietchens. Take the multi-track tapes of any old piece, and treat the sounds again, with new technology and create a new piece. That's what he does on this new release: eight 'distinct' pieces from the past, recycled into something new. I know his work pretty well, may even have all of his releases, but I had a hard time recognizing any of these 'distinct' pieces, which means that either I don't know his work that well, or perhaps Tietchens succeeds well in his mission. I think its indeed the latter. Methods and tools change, says Tietchens, quite rightly. For this work he continues to the methods and tools of recent years: reduction. Feed the original sounds through some devices and new textures appear, minimal perhaps, emptier for sure. The kind of music he does for quite a while, starting with his Ritornell CDs and later his work for Line. As you can imagine from my remark about having all his work, you can easily guess I'm a big admirer of his work and therefore perhaps not the kind of guy to write a very objective review. Maybe I'm not; I do like almost anything Tietchens produces, and with slow moving gestures, he also slowly moves his music. These eight pieces (I really wish I had a clue as what the originals are!) are highly delicate and sound uniquely as something from Tietchens. Maybe Tietchens' next move should be to an interactive release: have an original piece of music and some kind of software which allows the listener to creates all sorts of variations himself?
The other new release by Line is a new CD by Steve Roden. Apart from his recently compiled book (see Vital Weekly 796) there hasn't been many releases with his own music. This new work was recorded in 2010 when Roden was an artist in residence at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. He started out by recording a performance of various tones on an 'old battery powered Paia Oz' amidst 50 stainless steel sculptures of David Judd from various points in the space using a variety of recorders. He repeated that a few times, every time using the previous recordings on tiny speakers to go along (talk about recycling!). Its a forty-two minute piece in the best Roden tradition. Minimal but expansive, poetic and rich. Like he usually does, he layers a great variety of sound events, of a slightly similar nature, and waves together an excellent piece. Tones wave and merge together, and field recordings leak in, like cars passing in the night or like a bed of tape-hiss. I could argue that Roden doesn't change his method (unlike say Tietchens does), but with the recent years of quietness, its always good to hear a new work from him, and then go back to an older one of his. "Proximities" is an excellent piece of haunting beauty, solemn and majestically played. Exactly the kind of minimal music I happen to like very much. (FdW)


JOE WILLIAMSON - HOARD (CD by Creative Sources Recordings)
Double bass player Joe Williamson made it to Vital Weekly before, when he was part of CD compilation dedicated to Scelsi, and several times to our listings section. These two CDs might very well be the first proper introduction, at least for me it is. First there is 'Hoard', a solo CD with two pieces: the title piece and the opening 'Inadvertent Attraction Of Suspicion', which is a very nervous piece of close miking the bow and the strings, which gives the music a very direct presence. Its right there, right in your face. I am not sure if that's intended but it has an almost aggressive feel to it, like a violent abstract expressionistic painting. In the title piece things are a bit more gentler, but only just a bit. Like the previous piece there is an overall minimalist aspect to the playing, with slowly shifting patterns in a very dense way. Both pieces reminded me of the violin playing of Agencement: nervous, hectic, chaotic and yet very minimal.
The other disc with Williamson is also a disc of improvisation, but then as trio, along with Tony Buck on drums and Olaf Rupp on acoustic guitar, also covering two pieces. This might very well a live recording ('Berlin 2009 at Ausland', it says on the cover). It promises to be an interesting disc. Buck and Williamson has energetic players, but Rupp is best known as a more delicate player of the acoustic guitar. Together they deliver some heavily intense acoustic improvised music. It has the same minimal gestures of repeated banging, hitting, strumming and playing that is present on the solo disc, but here they seem to move more easily between various patterns, and Rupp adapts easily to the schematics at hand. Sometimes they leap into free jazz land, which are not parts I was particular fond of, but in their more radical free form playing I found some great beauty. They treat their instruments as they are supposed to be, although hardly in a way that they probably learned in music school. Not an easy disc as such for all the intensity of the performance, but take a piece at a time, and they love this. (FdW) Address:


CORY ALLEN - STILL (CD by Quiet Design)
The previous release by Cory Allen was 'Pearls' (see Vital Weekly 760) which I thought was a bit too much in the digital domain cum digital micro-glitch ambient, but it was better than the noisy outing of 'Hearing Is Forgetting The Name Of The Thing One Hears' (see Vital Weekly 704). 'Still' is a new work, four tracks, all just under ten minutes, which continues where 'Pearls' left us: the warm ambient of digital processing. Still there is no indication of what he uses sound wise, but me thinks its a fine mixture of field recordings, electronics and acoustic instruments (guitar? percussion?), all going through some sort of digital processors, perhaps brand max/msp. Also like before the four pieces here seem intertwined with each other, be it through the use of software and or choice of sounds and instruments. A piece like 'Goodbye Ghost' has a bit more white noise undercurrents than what is usual for him, or the more present closing piece 'Ascension', but that distraction works rather well. Throughout 'Still' acts as part two of 'Pearls' I think, but I think it has also a more matured sound - ghostly, nocturnal music altogether, and definitely a step forward. (FdW) Address:


TOM HALL - MUTED ANGELS (CD by Complicated Dance Steps)
It has been quiet for a while, after a flurry of releases (Vital Weekly 584, 698, 671 and 730) and lots of concerts in 2007-2009; apparently more than 250. Now Tom Hall returns with a new album, released on CD, cassette (which is the one I have here) and digital format. On his previous releases he used a whole bunch of instruments (drums, guitar, piano, organ, vibraphone, Chinese gongs and harmonium) treated with computer effects, which resulted in something that could have been in place on 12K, but wasn't always the most original of its kind. Although I am not sure, it seems to me that for this new CD he limits himself to the use f guitar, effects and some sort of computer processing, sculpting a variety of sound layers per track, which reminded me of Tim Hecker, jasper TX or Fennesz in his more louder moods, or perhaps even a bit of good ol' shoegazing. Its definitely music with a strong edge, and leaving the careful crackles of before behind. Its good to see him move away (perhaps also literally, as he moved from Australia to Los Angeles) from what he did before, and into, for him, something new. But that 'new' might not be that new. Its however a fine album for sure, sounding sometimes like a plane crashing through the sky at night, with long sustaining walls of guitar sounds, ending on a quieter note of 'Tearing Tears From My Heart'. Maybe its all highly quite emotional, and perhaps I lack something in that department. Throughout however a fine work. (FdW)

SEETYCA - BLEAKSCAPES (CD by Essentia Mundi)
Back in Vital Weekly 549 we reviewed a triple CD set 'Nekton Falls', with twenty six pieces by as many people working, loosely, with field recordings. That project was organized by Seetyca, with whom I seem to have lost contact a bit over the years, but a recent e-mail exchange lead to him sending his latest work and probably my first proper introduction into his music. He has worked in ambient and experimental music since 1994 and besides his solo music he is also active with groups like vzusdw, Circle Of Pines, Postmoderne Phonom–bel, Origami Nalebariska and moedra and has been involved in some eighty releases, sometimes on his own Mbira label. On his own he plays 'e-maschinen, samplers, bells and flutes', while receiving help on synth, voices and string samples from others. Despite the title this is not as bleak as one would expect, deepscapes would have probably been a better title, as these seven, mostly, lengthy excursions are in the world of deep atmospheric ambient music. The final piece is the shortest and the most experimental, with a cluster of organ sounds but very much in the digital field - bleak perhaps indeed. In the six other pieces Seetyca keeps himself in control within the tight (?) rules of deep ambient music: long sustaining sounds, effectively more so by the use of reverb, to generate that necessary feel of atmosphere, dislocated bell and flute sounds. While the early autumn sun truly blazes outside, this is might not be the perfect soundtrack for such circumstances. I guess this nocturnal work is more suited for late night listening. Perhaps in its genre not the most original album, but then: what is these days? On the other hand, purely looking from the point of musical content, this is really a great album. Refined, contemplative and rich in sound. (FdW)

A name that I vaguely remembered, but indeed: Joe Panzer is a member of Scenic Railroads along Gameboy Mike Shiflet. One of those noise bands I actually quite like as it happens. I am not sure right now, but I don't think I heard much of his solo music before. I have no idea what kind of instruments he uses, if any at all of course. The opening piece, 'Young Theorist' is quite an interesting piece of glitchy electronics, bouncing back and forth in the piece, left and right, all along with some vague acoustic rumble and occasionally very deep bass sounds. 'Hindsight Is 50/50', the next piece is crashing cascade of noise, which exactly didn't do much for me. 'Less Than A Feeling' (maybe a cover of 'More Than A Feeling'? - to speak of dreadful ghosts from the past), the closing piece, however is quite an interesting low humming bass affair, with some higher pitched frequencies going along and sounds a bit like the opening piece, but has its own character. References made by the label include Kevin Drumm, Julien Ottavi and Zbigniew Karkowski, and I think that's indeed quite correct: Panzner plays his own version of radical computer music. Once its derails and in the other two instances its actually very good. Good noise! (FdW) Address:


PICASTRO & NADJA - FOOL, REDEEMER (CD by Alien8 Recordings)
DUCHESS SAYS - IN A FUNG DAY T (CD by Alien8 Recordings)
A split release by Nadja, well-known in the pages (and outside I guess) and Picastro, a Canadian group around Liz Hysen's (guitars, vocals, piano, violin), with a fleeting membership, but here a trio of Hysen with Brandon Miguel Valdivia (drums, percussion) and Nick Storring (cello, guitars, woodwinds, electronics). Nadja of course is a duo Aidan Baker (guitars, vocals, woodwinds, drum machines) and Leah Buckareff (bass, accordion, vocals). There is however an overspill between both bands as they play on each other tracks - semi-split.There is something to say to put both of them on a disc together. Picastro plays music that is also 'heavy', but also with an interest for folk like music, psychedelics and post-rock. The violin and cello wail about, and the band plays on. This CD is cleverly constructed: via two psych rock pieces we arrive at 'Darnia', a more meditative piece of percussion and strings and a mellow song for acoustic guitar and strings in 'A New Souls Benediction'. The tinkling takes over for 'Venom' - the twenty-three minute excursion carried out by Nadja, which starts out with equal low strumming and whispering vocals, before slowly erupting into a wall of sound which is the trademark of Nadja, complete with drum overload towards the end of the piece. It marks a full and complete album.
"Since 2001, Duchess Says have been spreading the gospel of the influential and mysterious Church of Budgerigars", it says on the website of Alien8. This is much more conventional rock music of a quartet of Phil C., IsmaÎl and Simon Says and A-C. Apparently there are some pagan connections on this release, which of course elude me - being not a man of any kind of religion or non-religion. Their rock is straight forward by quite minimal also, based around bass, drums, vocals and keyboards. I didn't hear all those sermons, psalms etc, but it all sounded quite nice indeed. Mutant dance music, the saint Vitus dance perhaps? Not as conventional as some of the stuff that lands on this desk, and therefore it sounds actually great. Anti-doses to much of the rest here - something I could even play when not listening to Vital related music. (FdW) Address:

To send your promo with a press release is of course the best thing to do. And yet sometimes I regret I to have read them before hearing the music, such as in this case. Brian M. Clark is foremost a writer, including a book on Boyd Rice and work for Unpin Art. He has also played music with Boyd. So far, no problem, although I'm not a big fan of Rice. This one sided LP, four tracks, is Clark's first solo record. The title also suggests at such, but these four songs are about evoking 'a different suicide scenario and is named for the location in which the imagined suicide has taken place', 'Suburban Bedroom', 'Downtown High-rise Loft', 'High School Library, gymnasium and cafeteria' (how do you commit suicide in three places I wonder) and 'Studio Apartment Bathroom'. Now, had I not known all of this, would I still have linked the music to suicides? I very much doubt that. The first two pieces are very filmic, with marimba's, piano's and percussions, gentle and vibrant, almost like a classic modern score to film. The third piece consists of the howling of guitars (the cover sublists 'a fat nerd finally brings his guns to school'), while the closing piece is a very contemplative piece of sparse piano, guitar and sustaining sounds. I thought it was pretty stuff actually, perhaps a bit outside the usual Vital Weekly boundaries. In hindsight its of course not easy to say if they sound like dealing with suicides, but perhaps they don't. Its like an umbrella concept hanging over the record. You could also, as easily perhaps, state that these are four great soundtracks to imaginary films. Very nice. (FdW)


MATTIN & MALTASE (cassette by Ozono Kids)
To say that I like everything Mattin does is not right: I don't. If there is one aspect however I do like about his work is that he always surprises me. He has on put on some harsh noise, some utter conceptual music albums (also on his own label) and has experimented with free form rock and noise. Here he has a new 'band', Exquisite Corpse, the way of creating things where one doesn't create hears what the others did, so on this record Mattin sings and wrote the lyrics and recorded those first. Then he added the electric double bass of Margarita Garcia, then guitar and piano of Kevin Failure, and at last the drums of Loy Fankbonner. All of them played for ten times three minutes - the average rock length (Mattin says, but he is confused with a pop song), without hearing what the others did. Mattin overlayed all of this music without too much mixing and there you: exquisite corpse. Its Mattin in his full free rock and noise mode here, and I have to admit its not always my kind of music but the whole thing sounds quite energetic and crazy. Probably the kind of free stuff that you would probably also get if you would have all these people playing together at the same time, but such things could not spoil the fun I had with this record. Mattin has his political cap on when writing these lyrics, which are luckily printed on the cover - otherwise I couldn't have known. I have no idea what exactly is being questioned here, maybe the nature of rock records? Punk? Or simply an interesting way of creating mayhem - if its just the latter, then Mattin succeeded very well: pleasantly disturbed.
More craziness on his tape with one Malatesta, recorded in 2009 in New York. The a-side a piece which is based around a rhythmic sample, a sort of light weight start of a pop song, and then lots of nothing on the tape. The b-side starts out with a pop sample fading into a noisy guitar explosion, with an occasional return of the pop sample, but ending in a skipping record. It is followed by a nice low humming drone noise piece. It shows different sides of Mattin, here with this unknown Malatesta and while not all of it convincing, he knows how to confuse. Excellent confusion indeed. (FdW)

This week I saw a weird concert by Gerard Herman from Antwerp, Belgium, first blowing through a PVC pipe and then a saxophone with a siren like effect. The last bit sounded like Antoine Chessex, but louder. I thought it was great, highlight of the otherwise noisy evening. Herman handed me these two releases, and told me the cassette was popmusic. I expected some more improvised music on the LP, but its not. What it is, is not easy to say, but this week I was listening to some older Nurse With Wound records, and it stuck with me that this record shares some of the old Nurse sound - collage like, a bit of spoken word ('Fashioned To A Device' came to mind), bits of industrial noise, all cued together from various segments, some indeed improvised and sharing that outsider NWW vision towards music. Hard to say what Herman does, instrument wise, but I thought it was a great record. A fine work of tape-collage, quite raw and as such very nice.
About the cassette I can be short: its a 42 minute song, played on a keyboard with an uber-simple rhythm machine and a long, long text in Dutch about the meaning of life, with bits of guitar, all no doubt tongue in cheek stuff. Solid stuff if you need to drive any visitors away, and if they refuse to go, then play the instrumental b-side and sing along. If that doesn't work, you know have friends for life. (FdW)
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SIMON FISHER TURNER & MARK SPYBEY (7" by Tourette Records)
To celebrate twenty years of existence, Dead Voices On Air, also known to mankind as Mark Spybey, will release a bunch of 7"s in collaboration with people who he has worked with in those years. The series kicks of with Simon Fisher Turner, perhaps best known for scoring soundtracks for the films of Derek Jarman (Caravaggio", "The Last Of England", "The Garden" and "Edward II") and also with David Lynch. he met Spybey at a concert of Can in 1999 and worked together since as MzMzLaLaLa, but this 7" is their first release. I am in a bit in the dark wether this 7" is t45 or 33 rpm, and I decided for 33. One side has an interesting tape collage of sounds and spoken word in a very film noir like style, while the other side ('MzMzLaLaLa Sing Song Sing') is more a pop like track with a very sparse guitar, a wacky percussive sample and a sad voice. This side did less for me, I think, maybe its too short, or perhaps too vague, but the other side is in fact very good. In the future there will be 7's with James Plotkin, Troum, Edward Ka-spel, Cevin Key, Robert Hampson, Robin Storey, Jochen Arbeit, Dave Wright, Ryan Moore and Orbit Service, which me thinks looks a promising series. Great cover too. (FdW) Address:

Not every week, but when it happens, releases by Static Caravan bring that all too necessary enlightenment in the week, since their releases offer something that we don't hear a lot, yet its never of the mediocre pop music that some try to pass off to the HQ. Static Caravan is our little window to the real world I guess. Luke Jones is the man behind Lux Harmonium and he plays folk music. One great vocal piece, 'The Bones You Break', while the other side (a double AA side here) is a lovely little instrumental of it, called 'Camel Bones'. The vocal piece uses voice, guitar and harmonium and has a great pop sensibility to it. The other side has a great early summer breeze feel to it, like a fresh wind through your hair. A lovely gem, but I expected nothing less from Static Caravan. (FdW)


About 20 years ago Kapotte Muziek released two tapes at two labels, like  Industrial Therapy Unit, a label of Al Conroy (still) living and working in Canada  and  Sounds For Consciousness Rape, a label in France. The tapes are re-released by Lunhare, as two CDR's in beautiful cover. The meaning of the two tapes/CDR's is to play them at the same time. Kapotte Muziek used sounds of blackhumour (one of my favorites during that days), Due Process, Emil Beaulieu, Ios Smolders (for now Jos Smolders), John Hudak, Merzbow, New Carolltion, Not Half, SBOTHI and Yeast Culture. It took a long time to create this re-release, cause the master tapes were long lost. Although Al Conroy still had them and send a copy of the original master tapes. The idea of the two soundsources to play them simultaneously is interesting, cause how will interact the two different compositions with each other. Kapotte Muziek fits it well and searches for the right combination of the different tracks.  Interaction is also a nice document of experimental electronic tape music. Most of the tracks are created with loops or delays, a well-known and well proofed manner of creating soundlayers and rhythm in the abstract music. The last track is created by Freiband, one of the other projects of Frans de Waard. With new technics he re-used the 20-years old material and of course you can hear the development in soundrecording. Interaction is a nice follow up of the other re-release "Assemblage" at Lunhare and both double CDR releases offer interesting documents in the experimental use of sounds. (Jan-Kees Helms)


As someone who saw quite a few solo concerts by Roel Meelkop, I happen to know that he prepares his concerts and repeats pieces in different places, before arriving perhaps at the final (studio) version of that piece. I didn't see/hear this particular concert at London's LMC, in 2006, but apparently mister Meelkop is still satisfied with the result to release it. I am not sure if this is a microphone recording or a line recording, or perhaps a combination of both. Its a piece that is classical Meelkop: it features almost all of his interests: found sound, acoustic sound, computer processing, bits of rhythm (processed percussion perhaps), microsound and fine montage techniques. Sometimes building up to a large crescendo before cutting out at the highest peak and moving into something entirely different. A narrative piece with no narration, and perhaps a kind of narration you should think of yourself. Forty-four minutes of sheer silence and loud moves - microsound at its best. Music that requires your full concentration, best be heard in a dimly lit room, eyes closed and let it work for itself. If ever you want to put on a concert with this kind of music, Roel Meelkop is your man to play a perfect concert. (FdW) Address:


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