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Vital Weekly 802

img  Tobias Fischer

LOREN CONNORS - RED MARS (CD by Family Vineyard)
Now here I get in a bit of trouble. Ever since I discovered the music of Jim O'Rourke, on cassette in the very early 90s, either solo and as a member of Illusion Of Safety, I have been following his career and he gave me a few surprises, probably much like anyone else listening to 'Eureka', thinking it would be similar to 'Disengage'. O'Rourke dabbled in hardcore noise, hardcore improvisation and hardcore composition - well, perhaps hardcore anything. Here he has a quartet that deals with hardcore free jazz: O'Rourke on guitar, harmonica, electronics (although very few, I thought), Akira Sakata (alto saxophone, vocals), Chris Corsano (drums) and Darin Gray (double bass, percussion, bells) - the latter two as the duo Chikamorachi. Five pieces in total, from three different cities. So where's the trouble? Normally I would leave such free jazz explosion to Dolf Mulder, but then we have Jim O'Rourke here, right? I actually do like some free jazz sometimes, and actually like this, but I thought two discs at once was a bit much to take in at once. This is all highly wild music, straining the listener - even with some training or liking free-jazz - considerable. A CD, let alone two, is a poor excuse for the real thing: the concert experience - but in this case I'd say its the next best thing you can get. You like it and it will drive unexpected visitors crazy.
Apparently 'Red Mars' is the first solo album by Lorren (formerly also Mazzacane) Connors, a guitarist with a large catalogue of works since the early 70s. Connors might be seen as a blues guitarist, but his style is something unique. He has evolved from acoustic albums in the 70s to multi-layered pieces and now again to spontaneous music, but then on the electric guitar. His new album is a sort of suite to the red planet, is one of great beauty. Still beauty, with not a lot of sounds, but lots and lots of atmosphere. This is due to the heavy amount of reverb used, which is something I normally don't care for very much, but in these sparse meandering tones actually sounds quite nice. Maybe Connors also uses a bit of other stomp boxes, but I am not sure. This all has very little to do with blues music in the traditional sense of the word, but is perhaps indeed full of pain and despair, maybe evoking the lonely sense of the red planet and the attack of meteors, in 'Showers Of Meteors' shows violence and aggression. Great distilled beauty all around in this probably too short album. (FdW)


Beequeen is one of the older projects of legendary Dutch sound artist Frans de Waard. The project was established back in 1989 as joint venture with compatriot artist Freek Kinkelaar. Since then a large number of releases has been launched, this present album titled "Port out starboard home" being the latest. As the title suggest there is some kind of melancholic feel to the album. Musically the the album combines subdued electronics with acoustic expressions derived from guitars and the beautiful vocals of Olga Wallis. Olga Wallis was guest singer on previous album "Sandancing" (Important records, 2008), however on this new album she has become a full member of the band. Not strange since her mild vocals adds a perfect supplement to the gentle tones of the Beequeen-concept. As mentioned, the guitar sound is a quite big part of the album with some excellent strum works sometimes reminiscent of early Talk Talk ("Spirit of eden"-period).Even though the electronic interventions on the album is quite discreet in comparison to other projects of Frans de Waard, there are still moments where electronic experimentations penetrates such as the instrumental piece "Howard is not at home". Awesome album from Beequeen. (Niels Mark)


The first live CD on Narrominded is by Coen Oscar Polack, one of the founders of the label, as well as a member of Living Ornaments and Psychon. His solo work deals with installations and performance like pieces, all dealing with field recordings, found sound and laptop bits. 'Spectral Churches' is a work commissioned by StreetCanvas and played on a market square on Haarlem, The Netherlands, using sounds from the bells of the nearby St. Bavo church, which carillon sounds at 21:00 every night, and immediately followed by 'Spectral Churches' as a multi-speaker set-up. The bell sounds are taken over by computer processed sounds, culminating in an extended, sustaining mass of bell like sounds, moving all over the soundspectrum. Lurking beneath are voices, which may seem to be of the audience that walks around the installation, or which are perhaps taken into the music, when it was composed. That is a bit unclear, but it makes a nice addition to the overall, twenty-six minute composition. The stereo version of the piece sounds quite wide, with lots of things happening in one channel or the other. It makes up a dense, hallucinating listening experience. Maybe a bit too short even, but throughout very nice. (FdW)

Saxophone player Stephane Rives is best known for his sine wave playing of said instrument, whereas Frederic Nogray may seem a new name. He plays effect pedals here, whereas Rives limits himself to laptop, an odd thing me thinks, but why not. In his laptop Rives has samples of his discography which he reworks in this recording, which was made in June 2010 in Beirut (where Rives was born actually, in 1969). They (now?) operate under the name of The Imaginary Soundscapes. The piece is divided in two parts, both called 'A Way Out By Knowing Smile', but one is 'low' and the other is 'high'. This work, I would assume generated through improvisation, but it doesn't sound like it, actually. Its an excellent work of low humming (even in 'high') sine wave like sounds, which are cleverly woven together into some highly sensitive, concentrated bits of music. Low humming in the first part, but with a rich sound; not low as in low volume, but a concentrated effort to work with the more low end sounds of their spectrum, at times even bursting out. The second part seems more 'musical' in some ways, maybe due to the fact more musical elements were used, but here too things burst out in a various ways over the musical spectrum. A fine work, I'd say, with some great intensity and sounding like an improvisation of composed materials, or perhaps a composition of improvised parts: either way seems fit to me. Great work! (FdW)


ANGHARAD DAVIES & TAKU UNAMI - TWO HANDS (cassette by Winds Measure Recordings)
STEFAN THUT & TAKU UNAMI - AM WIND, D+50 (cassette by Winds Measure Recordings)
When phonographers meet up they play their field recordings, plain and simple. Sometimes as a sort of improvised jam together, but sometimes one at a time. August 23 2007 five of them met up at the Issue Project Room in New York and each played ten minutes of their work, crossfading into the next contributor. In order of appearance we have here Scott Smallwood, Sawako, Seth Cluett, Ben Owen and Civyiu Kkliu. Each also contributes a small text or photos to the cover, which reminded me of the good ol' cassette days. I like little conceptual things like this, but I am not sure, upon listening to this wether its absolutely necessary to release such things on a CD. I can understand CDRs, to document the uniqueness of the event, but as I'm sure there are plenty more such events, I wonder why especially this one had to be released on CD. What I hear I think this is all pretty interesting stuff, showing various fascinations with field recordings (rain, planes (Smallwood), parks (Sawako), church bells (Cluett), indoor sounds (Owen), magnetic fields (Kkliu) - all what I think, as the CD is cut into one piece). Quite a fine work altogether, moving through these various interests and thus making a fine work. But perhaps a CD is too much?
On cassette we find two recordings of two concerts by Angharad Davies (violin, clap) and Taku Unami (clap), recorded in March 2009 in the space of a few days. Perhaps the medium of a cassette is an odd choice for this music. But then it might be the right medium too, come to think of it. This is music in which not a lot happens: a few claps spaced out, and the odd pluck on the strings or, in a very few instances - a few carefully placed bowings. Sometimes you wonder if the tape has anything at all, or wether you got stuck with a blank copy. Very silent music indeed, which we know from Unami but also someone like Taku Sugimoto (although I haven't heard his music in a long time). I guess it deals with the very nature of silence, listening, contemplating. Not easy to access if you plan to listen only superficially, but once you open up, this is actually a wealthy listening experience. The tape hiss becomes a part of it all. Very nice and quiet.
The other tape featuring Unami is one with Stefan Thut, although more like one side being by Thut and the other side Unami and Thut together. I don't think I know Stefan Thut that well, and his two pieces on side one last seventeen minutes exactly each and are called both 'Am Wind', and I should suppose they sound like wind sounds, but somehow I thought it sounded more like a synthetic version thereof, like white noise. Quite stale and without apparent change. For the b-side it says its a composition by Taku Unami, recorded on February 13th 2009 and that Thut plays cello and Unami sine wave, somewhere in the lower region of that spectrum that is. Its not very loud or ear piercing, but its present throughout the recording, and its not easy to say what Thut is doing, other than it seems he moves his bass along the floor. Although unlike the release with Davies where there is very little sound, this shares the same quality of listening and hearing, and is a similar listening experience. Very nice and less quiet. (FdW) Address:


O.R.D.U.C. - RUBY JUBILEE (LP by Motok)
A ruby jubilee is something you celebrate when you hit the forty years. Nico Selen, the man behind the One-o-seventh Royal Dutch Underground Company (in short O.R.D.U.C.) released a EP last year called 'Iron Jubilee', so its all a bit confusing. That EP was originally, in 1981, intended to celebrate the first year of his label New Bulwark Records & Tapes, but the band O.R.D.U.C. exist since 1971. A trio set out to play something that was a cross-over between Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa and originally called M.N.S. (from the last names of the three musicians), but in december 1971 changed to One-o-seventh Royal Dutch Underground Company and soon after became Selen's solo project. It was not until 1980 when something was released - on the Plurex compilation 7" '17 to 7 on 33'. To celebrate forty years Selen choose music from the last thirty years, although I would have loved to hear some of that earlier music, but perhaps not much of that was recorded? The pieces here on this LP are not really unknown, but I guess you need to be a die-hard collector to know all of them, and some of these pieces are unreleased. Just 'Do' from their '107' LP (see Vital Weekly 710) appears here again. That should do for a nice party LP. As someone who has been familiar with O.R.D.U.C. since actually that very first 7" compilation, these pieces are not always new, although it has some tunes even I didn't hear before, but its no doubt an O.R.D.U.C. album. Lots of rhythm machines, synthesizers, some guitars and Selen's voice (who is never a really good singer, but his sometimes robotic delivery suits the electronic music quite well), offering together a perfect naive sense of electronic music. Never loud rhythmic, technically perfect and never well-thought lyrics, but everything is played with great charm and twinkling naivety, especially in the instrumental pieces with the vaguely cosmic/kraut like capacities, but always within the context of pop music. The insert lists a whole bunch of unreleased albums and singles (apart from the extensive discography of stuff that actually did make it over the years onto a plethora of formats), from 1979 onwards, so let me suggest that these should be released one day. (FdW) Address:


MICRO_PENIS - TOLVEK (LP by Doubtful Sounds)
Back in Vital Weekly 696 I reviewed the first LP by Micro_Penis, a quartet from Mulhouse, France and casted my suspicion on the fact that some of the information on the band might not be true. The gap between that first unnamed record and this second is quite long, since two members spend 'long stays in mental hospitals' 'revealing themselves through sculpture, using rubbish, and in particular vegetable peelings and stuff found in the hospital garbage bins'. They ended up with some rubber beats that every LP has (not mine actually). Two other members spend time in a 'Zen temple in the south of Italy', so the band had just a few rare sessions. There is still no listing of instruments, but again the voice is quite important. Still clueless what those 'lyrics' are supposed to be about, if anything at all. Maybe its some general purge. There is also trumpet, saxophone, electronics and maybe acoustic objects thrown about. However 'crazy' this all is, I think Micro_Penis has progressed from their first record quite a bit, with some interesting more thoughtful pieces and not as loud throughout as on the first album. Very much something for those who like anything from the Schimpfluch label, outsider music and art brut, even when it turns out, one day, that all of this was fake. Quite nice, especially the second side made a fine impression. (FdW) Address:


BALINESE BEAST (LP by Balinese Beast)
A duo from Athens, Greece, who use 'electronics, home hacked-fi systems, samples and the whole saxophone family' as they say themselves. Following a 3"CDR and split cassette with Dieter Muh, this LP is their third release. Its quite wild music, which has its origins in the world of improvised music but leans towards noise. There is a fair amount of loud and distorted sounds, stemming from looped chunks of sound, feedback from microphones/saxophones and lo-fi electronics screaming about. But its not just a record of pure noise per se. Balinese Beast use the element of dynamics very well. Chopping up their sound, making them into a vibrant collage of sound, moving back and forth in the dynamic spectrum. Played with the energy of a punk band I'd say, screaming, loud, vicious, but entirely existing in the world of improvisation and noise. At times reminding me, no doubt because of the saxophone, of Borbetomagus, but then less as a streaming amount of noise. A record that takes all your energy away, leaving the listener tired behind. This band must be great in concert: on record they come across pretty well already. (FdW)


Two older pieces here, one from 2003 and one from 1983. One side is a collaborative effort between superstar Felix Kubin, human beat boxer Mark Boombastik and musician/writer Max Goldt, while the other side (the 1983 piece) is by Goldt alone. The 2003 piece has metallic percussion and the previous mix was 'too Neubauten' like, so now a new mix sounds more 'updated' (I am quoting here the press release, a rarity for Meeuw to do one). Goldt recorded the vocals in a hotel room and Boombastik and Kubin deliver a great rhythmic background, filled with lots of synthesizer oscillations and is throughout a fine pieces. On the other side Goldt has a likewise great pop song, dedicated to the Ladies, which for a homosexual might be a surprise. Here too we have a lot of rhythm, which actually sound dated (think Neue Deutsche Welle), sampled metal here too, and Goldt delivers a fine vocal. No doubt, both sides scream 'hit' all along. But then, we live in an unfair world, and no luck probably for such a release. On the other hand, things like this will be cherished in the underground no doubt. Excellent! (FdW) Address:


Some US company duplicates CDRs and has some really nice printing, full color, for the cover, but in their deal there is never much space for a booklet. That is something to regret since sometimes people have something to say. Lack of money prevented Jason Lescalleet to do a proper booklet for this release but I strongly advise the readers to go the website below and read Howard Stelzer's great notes about this album. The sort of liner notes I like: thoughtful and with insight. Before Lescalleet had any record out, his idea was to call his debut album (LP no doubt) 'This Is What I Do', a showcase of what he did in music - working with tape recorders, cheap electronics, contact microphones and such like. That LP never happened as surely many Lescalleet fans will know, but now its the title of a series of releases with obscure bits from compilations (in case of this first volume), but will also have live recordings and collaborations in the future. If I am right - which I am usually not - all seven compilations that featured these Lescalleet tracks have been reviewed in Vital Weekly, so one could easily say 'oh yes, I do remember these pieces', but I don't, necessarily (probably one of the bigger disadvantages of reviewing new material is that one doesn't always time to go back to older releases). So its good for someone like me, who heard all of these before, to hear them collected together and for new fans who missed out on these, no doubt no longer available releases, to hear them for the first time. And I must admit I forgot how great these pieces were. Lescalleet might be regarded, by some, as a noise musician, and his use of electronics is at times is certainly extreme (either through high pitched sounds, but also a distinctly lo-fi way of using electronics), but its never really loud (save for a few bits such as the opening sounds of 'Put'em On The Glass) and throughout he loves a minimal but steady development of his music. Tones and sounds evolve in a natural way, moving forward in a majestical way. This is truly great listening music. Let's hope the start of nice series with more great surprises. (FdW) Address:


Grisha Stakhnes is Mites, and he hails from Israel. I believe this is his first release in Europe. His music is based on field recordings, which is hardly a surprise if you end up on Mystery Sea, I'd say. But unlike other he tapes them to cassettes and then in a sort of live situation he plays those recordings and does a meta-collage of said recordings. That adds a certain rawness to the music, a kind of noisy-ness which is very nice, and something that is not heard a lot in this particular corner of the musical world. Of course its not really noise in a HNW kind of way, but its an electrical undercurrent which is quite loud at tomes such as in 'Well, C'mon, It's Just Snow', which may indeed sound like snow falling on an electric board. Mites plays all five, three of which are very lengthy, pieces in a minimal vein, slowly but steadily evolving to keep the attention of the listener. A work full of promise I'd say, room for improvement and some fascinating sound events. Raw and untamed, this is certainly something fresh in the world of field recording. (FdW)


On this greek label a duo-disc and a solo one, all three quite well-known musicians. First we have a piece by Z'EV, who plays skins and 'symphonic bass-drum) and Kasper Toeplitz on bass and computer. At the basis there is a live recording from January 2010 in Paris which was mixed and assembled by Toeplitz in the time after that. The one piece, forty-five minutes, is divided in some clear distinct parts, like a strong opener with Z'EV clearly on the skins and Toeplitz on the bass, followed by a long section in which things get a bit blurry: who does what here? Not that it really matters of course, but here the abstraction level goes up. Then, after say some thirty minutes, the two leap into a fierce piece of drumming and distorted bass sounds, almost like a noise/tribal, ending on a similar note in the last five minutes. Quite an odd piece, I must say, or perhaps not something one expects to work very well, but actually it does. Moving from the very loud and demanding passages into a more calm land somewhere in the middle. Excellent.
Music by Marc Behrens is something I haven't heard in quite some time, which might be of course just my problem of not getting it, or perhaps (maybe) Behrens moving out of the release of a compact disc and creating sound installations, which some people just sometimes do. That seems to be the case with 'Apparatus', which was a four channel installations (two channels via open headphones, two via ceiling speakers). Odd enough, this is not one piece (as is perhaps usual in cases like this), but seven, all around four to five minutes. It uses 'basic sound material recorded 2005-2010 in Austria, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Namibia and South Africa and are simply named after the sounds heard 'Hum/Bells' (twice), 'Rain/Compressor', 'Trumpet/Clarinet' (twice) and 'Mamori' (also twice). I rate Behrens highly as a composer of more complex microsound/musique concrete music, but it seems no such thing is the case here: all seven pieces here are more like small events, based on a relatively few sounds/samples, looped around. Perhaps this is due to the nature of the sound-installation? It marks an interesting break in the works I know from mister Behrens, and its by no means a lesser work for him. More ambient I guess than what we know, but all together some interesting pieces of music. Things hum and buzz in a nice way, not really soft but more upfront. If this is something of a new direction for him, I'd be keen to hear more. (FdW) Address:


In the ongoing series of 3"CDRs of 'reworkings of sounds of the river Taurion by Cedric Peyronnet' its now the turn of Tarab from Australia. I may be wrong of course, but it could be that this is the first time I see on the cover that someone used also other river sounds (Merri Creek, North Coburg, Australia), which I don't think is necessary as the basic material is, I believe, some 2,5 gigabyte. Tarab is Eamon Sprod and has had various releases on Naturestrip and 23Five Incorporated. He uses the river sounds as they are, there doesn't seem that many sound processing going on (perhaps save for some EQ-ing), which he uses to create a narrative story: water, crackling, birds, insects and such like are used in a rather collage like way, with sounds cutting in and out, placing bits of silence here and there. Quite a vibrant collage of sounds, thanks to these quite dynamic shifts in the material, divided over three pieces (why not one I wondered), creating a fine piece of work. More in a traditional way of working with field recordings, but done in again in a delicate manner. (FdW)


NINNI MORGIA - LADYBODY SONATA (cassette by Ultramarine Records)
Following his duo record with Marcello Magliocchi, here is now a solo cassette by guitarist Ninni Morgia. Like on that LP, Morgia is an improviser, but with a rock(ist) attitude: his music is quite loud, due to the extensive use of sound effects (modulation, distortion), played with objects on the strings with a great sense of energy. Sometimes he takes back what he is doing and gets a bit more quiet, but even then his music remains a razor sharp thing with loud sounds. Quite wild, sometimes reminding me of some Japanese music, such as KK Null or Solmania on 'Vomit Reflex'. It reminded me of the music of Lukas Simonis, solo and with his various impromptu duos. I can easily imagine a dueling guitar battle between these two. This is some powerful thirty minutes. (FdW) Address:


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