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Vital Weekly 803

img  Tobias Fischer

RAPOON - MEDIA STUDIES (CD by Aquarellist)
In Vital Weekly 789 I was pleasantly surprised by a double LP by Phurpa, a band from Moscow led by Alexei Tegin. Phurpa deals with ritual music, from Egypt, Iran and Tibet, of Buddhist and Bon liturgies - the real thing one might say. Recently I got another CD by them, with just one piece recorded for the 'Nag bDud Ceremony' - what that is, is not explained on the cover. They use the same instruments again: dunchen, gyaling, silnyen, bub, damaru, kanling, nga and shang, all from Tibetan origin. This fifty-five minute piece sees them singing, chanting and playing their percussion instruments, all in quite a solemn way. Like before I can say that I hardly know anything about ritual music - the real thing that is - but that I believe Phurpa plays indeed the real thing. Hard to say anything objective about it really: you can listen to it, but one doesn't engage in the ceremony. Should lit candles, incense or sit cross-legged? Can I sit in my conformt chair and just listen? I hope so, because that's what I did, when listening to this. It didn't win me over as a fan of ritual music, but I thought this was all pretty impressive music.
On the same label, but then something entirely different is 'Media Studies' by Rapoon. There was a time when I heard his music quite a lot - work related - but then for many years not as much. I didn't keep up with his releases. Robin Storey, once a member of Zoviet*France, uses electronics - cheap in the beginning, but no doubt more sophisticated now - to create music that is part rooted in drone music and part in (pseudo) ethnic music. When I heard Rapoon more often I had particular favorites - 'Fallen Gods' was a stand out work I think - but my heart remained with the zoviet*france, old and new. On 'Media Studies' he uses a lot of sampled voices from various media sources. In the opening track 'TW Is A ****' this is set to a bit of ambient house like keyboards and makes a fine beginning of the CD. 'Raggazine' is a nice track too, but with 'News Georgia' things fail a bit: too easy sampling of too lo-fi drum machine. Its followed by the long 'The Vital Idiot' (hopefully he didn't think of us), which is an ambient piece, harking back to the old days of zoviet*france ('Just An Illusion'). 'New Pearl Harbour' is more like early Rapoon while 'Talkin'… Cant Hear You' is again like old ambient house, while 'Survey The World' is a fine closing piece of more moody electronics. A pretty varied CD in all, quite entertaining and even when the amount of TV snippets is quite a lot, it doesn't stand in the way of some fine music. Its supportive of the music, rather than the other way around. Very nice indeed. (FdW) Address:


Those who know me slightly better, know I'm a huge Twin Peaks fan. For those not in the know, Twin Peaks was a American serial drama created for television and screened in the early 90s. The two season show was created by David Lynch, film creator extraordinaire and also responsible for remarkable movies like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Lost Highway and Mullholland Drive. The series, centering around a murder mystery (the death of a small town's home coming queen), features a distinct surreal uneasiness that is uniquely Lynchian. Dale Cooper is the official man who investigates the murder and is drawn into a supernatural web of events. The instantly recognizable music for the series was originally created by Angelo Badalamenti and the title track (sung by Julee Cruise) and the album became huge hits. CÙtes Desterte, a new name for me, consists of two core members: Philip Croaton and Maxim Komov. Together they created this brief (32+ minutes) album in 2008-2010 that could well be an alternative soundtrack to the series. Croaton and Komov have captured the sound of the original soundtrack (heavy keyboards and reverbed guitars) so well, that the first four tracks of this six track album could well be outtakes from the original sessions. The final two tracks are remixes (by Ilia Belorukov and Dmitriy Krotevich respectively) of the title track. I've always had issues with remixes. I know it's me, but my point (99% of all remixes are superfluous) is proved on this CD. Electronic drums kick in (the death of most remixes) and create an atmosphere that is more elevator than exiting, which is a shame. Still, there is enough to please any Twin Peaks fan on the first part of the album. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:


An obscure release here which is about an instrument called the Utyugon, 'the first analog synthesizer' designed by Timur Novikov and Ivan Sotnikov, and used by Sergey Kuryokhin. 'The instrument consisted of the table from which the irons hung down by means of special strings. The irons pendulated, touched each other and produced very strange sounds that be amplified by means of electronic equipment'. This instrument was restored and used by Andrey Popvsky and Nickolay Soudnick, using modern devices for sound processing. This is quite interesting metallic music, not unlike machine installations by Jean Tinguely. Ready-made action music, like heavy weight metallic chimes in the wind. Towards the end of the concert (I assume) they suddenly burst out in a rhythmic play of the instrument which adds a strange element to the music. Quite obscure but interesting music: would have loved to see the real action! (Fdw) Address:


JEPH JERMAN - FOR HENRY F. FARNY (CD by Trait Media Works)
XEDH & IMBERNON - ANEKKYY (CD by Trait Media Works)
Interesting: following his return to the world of music via releases on his own label, Eric Lunde then expanded into doing releases for other people, and the next step is to invite people to release works on his own label. No doubt Lunde knows Jeph Jerman from the days when the latter was called Hands To, so perhaps a logical choice. The music of Hands To is gone by now, and Jerman specializes in working with natural objects (wood, stone), microphones, field recordings and contact microphones. The latter two are the case here on 'For Henry F. Farny', I assume the US painter (1847-1916) of the life of native americans. The music uses an abandoned telephone wire in Arizona, with contact microphones attached and singing in the wind. One may remember Alan Lamb's similar works (see Vital Weekly 135), but Jerman's work is a bit more roughly shaped. The wind blows heavily around the cable and we hear that, along with a rumble of debris from around the site. I assume there is no post production, treatment of processing of any kind going on here, which makes this quite a remarkable disc. This is not one piece, one hour, but six pieces of some highly interesting, unaltered field recordings. Powerful stuff, without being noise-based, but throughout a strong CD.
Perhaps more of a surprise is the release by Miguel A. Garcia, also known as Xedh and Jon Imbernon (member of Ximel and Ura), who are from a different generation than Lunde. Xedh plays no-input mixer and oscillators and Imbernon guitar and effects pedal. As I don't know Imbernon at all, I can only comment on Garcia's career, from rhythmic music to noise to microsound and now, with this collaboration, he returns to the world of noise. This is all pretty violent music: loud and distorted, save for a few bits where they hold back a bit. Its however the kind of noise I think is pretty interesting. Not just the harsh wall of noise type of thing, but a work of improvised noise, in constant move and change, loud as hell, but with enough variation to hold one's attention throughout. Even when this is not something I would play everyday, I thought it was quite a nice release indeed. (FdW) Address:


We know Chris Watson mostly from his works dealing with sounds from nature, animal wild life and stormy weather. A decade ago he worked as a sound recordist for the BBC who were doing a documentary on the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico, a train company with a trail from Los Mochis to Veracruz, coast to coast, through cities and wild life. All of that sound material is now used in 'El tren Fantasma', the ghost train (since it no longer exists). Now this is a truly fascinating CD. I liked pretty much everything I heard from Watson so far, but the mechanical sounds of the train, reminding of course of the very first composition of concrete sounds, 'Etude Aux Chemin de Fer' by Pierre Schaeffer, cut with sounds from the surrounding, makes this a highly narrative piece of music. Its perhaps I love traveling on the train (more than cars and planes), since you easily dream of watching the passing landscape, read a book, listen to music, and while not immediate train ride ahead, I'd be curious to hear this work by Watson on a train anytime soon. Shifting from rusty mechanical train sounds and chirping birds and whispering insects, Watson paints a great sonic picture of the train ride. Very richly detailed sounds: one need only to close their eyes and the trip by train becomes a real trip. This is easily by far one of the best Chris Watson releases I heard so far. Not easy in the man's catalogue of already great works, but this one surely is a masterpiece. Not just a collection of small great pieces, but also the overall narrative aspect of it. (FdW) Address:


ASTMA - DAR-K (CD by Letmo Productions)
Letmo is a label from Prague and their aim is to promote good music from everywhere. They will do this by releasing of CDs , but also by organizing concerts and making a radioprogramma. DAR-K of Astma is their fifth release. Astma is a duo from Moscow - Russia and consists of Alexei Borisov and Olga Nosova. Astma released already several CD-R and free download at several labels and played concerts in Russia, Europe and USA. The CD DAR-K is well-packet in a A6 format sleeve with abstract pictures. The music has a melancholic atmosphere created by droning drums, dark bass, piano, chord, flutes and mystic lyrics by Alexei Chulansky, Genesis P-Orridge and Z'EV. The atmosphere of the music is dark, threatening and takes you to deeper parts of the music. Some pieces of music are just too basic, only drums and some bass-patterns. The music reminds me to good old industrial bands like Throbbing Gristle and Zos Kia. The strength of the music of Astma the mix between the drums and bass completed with pushing voices, strange sounds or flutes somewhere far away, the mix between basic recognizable music and abstraction by experimental layers. As said… not all songs at this album have beautiful mix, but the album is worth to be listened and to explore another dark part of the Russian society. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


FRANCISCO LOPEZ - UNTITLED [2009] (2CD by Baskaru)
Every now and then, Francisco Lopez, known for his many releases and his many concerts, compiles a double CD with assorted pieces from one year, given to compilations in that specific year and which saves die-hard Lopez money to buy all those individual compilations (and thus missing out other great music). This particular collection has a bunch from 2009, but I believe this is not complete and may contain pieces that were created for special occasions and were previous unreleased. The sparse liner notes details such things as sound sources used such as places like the Brazilian Amazon and Namib Desert, but also sound material by Phill Niblock and Rutger Zuydervelt/Mariska Baars and the snoring of people in the opening piece 'Untitled 220', it doesn't list however where these pieces were released or if they are unreleased. I must say I like collections like this, even for me, with a trained Lopez ear. It sums up the various interests he has in working with 'sound matter' as he calls it, and the brief character of some of these pieces (from just under three minutes to twenty minutes) is quite nice. These pieces show his recent interest in computer processing of sound matter, long form sound pieces and collage like pieces. If Lopez is a name you come across a lot, but you never heard his music, then this double CD is a good place to start your research.
On the same label we have a new CD by Emmanuel Mieville, who started out with more electro-acoustic music, but in recent years is more interested in working with field recordings. I am not sure why its called 'Four Wanderings In Tropical Lands', since it contains five pieces, based on sounds from three countries, Costa Rica, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Mieville is not a person to just record/document what he hears around him, but actively constructs new pieces of music, paradoxing nature with human activities, such as himself playing a sculpture in Costa Rica. Like Watson does on his CD (reviewed elsewhere), Mieville tells us stories with his pieces, taking small bits of the same place, chirping birds/insects, people talking on the market and building a narrative of his own. Five excellent pieces and on a sunday which scream sunshine all day (despite the autumn coldness), one could easily think one is surrounded by a tropical nature. Not necessarily the most innovative release in the world of field recordings, this is however a great release. (FdW)


Apart from some of his fifties electronic works, I have never been a great fan of the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Perhaps I didn't hear enough or perhaps I simply don't understand a lot of it. In the sixties he composed a piece 'From The Seven Days', which consisted of open ended instructions for the players, such as 'play a vibration in the rhythm of the universe/play a vibration in the rhythm of dreaming//play a vibration in the rhythm of dreaming/and slowly transform it/into the rhythm of the universe/repeat this as often as you can'. A very fluxus way of composing music, but his ensemble would in return ask for partial authorship of the piece for this composition and quickly Stockhausen returned to notating his pieces accurately. For 'From The Seven Days' stands as a bit of an odd-ball in his oeuvre, but its not difficult to see why its so attractive for the musicians of Zeitkratzer to perform this piece. They love performing such open ended pieces on their extended instruments (violin, violoncello, double bass, piano, electric guitar, percussion, clarinets, french horn, trombone), since many of the players have a background in improvised music, and this sort of score leaves enough space for them to play with the notes. Its highly irrelevant to say whether these five pieces, are 'accurately' played, its 'just' an interpretation of whatever is possible and I think Zeitkratzer deliver and outstanding job, especially in 'Setz Die Segele Zur Sonne', a long, dense piece of glissandi played with a sinister undercurrent. The other pieces are shorter, and offer a variety of insights: moody, loud, fierce, introspective. An excellent performance all around. (FdW) Address:


Christian H. S–temann is the man behind Cryptic Scenery, and with long intervals he delivers a new release. The last one might have very well have been 'The Radar Society - A Sonic Dystopia' (see Vital Weekly 679). On this new release Cryptic Scenery has expanded into a real band: S–temann on guitar, treatments, stylophone, mandolin, percussion and treatments and one Thomas Pertzel on saxophone and percussion (although mostly saxophone). Throughout the sparse releases from all those years, we have come to know Cryptic Scenery as music to set a good mood, be it somewhat unsettling at times. Ambient music if you will, but always with a somewhat experimental edge to it. Sustaining, waving guitar tones, played with an e-bow and loop stations, along with other gadgets to create a minimalist setting for his music. On this new one this is not different, but it has a more expanded sound, due to the saxophone who gets a similar treatment and the other instruments used. Hard to say what the percussion is doing here, since it never gets anywhere near even a bit rhythmic. Moody music once again, but in my book this release is an important forward for Cryptic Scenery: the extended line up works very well. New roads ahead. (FdW)


Four CDrs, each with a single track, spanning easily between fifty minutes and one hour, and otherwise not a lot of information. The recordings were made in 2009 in St. Petersburg, edited in Kaunas later that year and now, this year, released in the Ukraine. Ilia Belorukov plays alto saxophone and 'surround' and Darius Ciuta 'pc and edits'. Its quite strange music I thought. Action music perhaps, but perhaps also without much action. Hard to call this 'ambient' as such, although maybe its also that. The sound is vague, meaning, a bit far away, a bit without details, but on the other hand also atmospheric and spacious. Maybe the computer transforms the saxophone? Maybe not? So its music that defies much description? However its also music that moves forward, develops, changes, even is a bit loud at times. Maybe its four lengthy improvisations with minor edits? Again, its not easy to say what exactly this is all about. What I can say however is that this is quite fascinating stuff. The longitude of course plays a role, its part of the idea of this release, which most of the time seems unengaging, rather about creating environments than fixed musical notions. Quite an interesting affair this one. (FdW) Address: none given


From Dorset hails a trio of Adrian Newton (also known as Nemeton, Zaum, Safehouse), Allen Upton (Textured Bird Transmission, Dead Sea Liner label boss) and Adam Baker (Dead Wood, Dirty Demos label boss). The first two started No Context with Baker joining in 2007 when they started to play live. Apparently they release one album per year since 2008 (that's very commendable), one for ContraMusikProduktion, Striate Cortex (which I think went unreviewed here) and now for Triple Bath. They use field recordings, wind in particular, processing it live and adding bits of live played home-made instruments. From what I know from these men, previous music, I expected some sort of monolithic drone music, perhaps recorded in a lo-fi manner. But I was mistaken. This piece, lasting forty minutes, is an excellent collage of wind sounds, minor electronics and great dynamics - even moving to sheer silence somewhere mid way (maybe it was intended to be a LP release?), but from there on picking up building towards a mighty crescendo at the end. A very fine work of live electronics transforming a multitude of wind sounds with bits of electronics. A refined work of field recordings and microsound.
On the other new release for Triple Bath we have the renowned improviser Alfredo Costa Monteiro, originally from Portugal but since twenty years in Barcelona, and best known for his works with accordion, electric guitar, turntables and many collaborations with Ferran Fages, Ruth Barberan, Margarida Garcia, Pilar Subira and Juan Matos Capote in a culmination of projects. For 'Umbralia' he works with an electric organ. Hard to say wether this organ is played in real time, or perhaps multi-layered, or even what kind of organ it is, as nothing else is mentioned as 'electric organ'. His one piece lasts forty-five minutes and is of great beauty. Maybe its because I love the sound of organs, toys, farfisa, churches, motor driven, electrical: I happen to love 'm all, and certainly in cases like this, where its very difficult to say what exactly he is doing. I am somehow convinced that this is not the work of real time play, but if so, no doubt a bunch of electronics were used. But its more likely that Monteiro made a clever mix of various organ bits and sculpted a great piece of music together. A bit Palestine like, or Lucier at times, but Monteiro moves through various passages, sometimes reminding the listener of an electro-acoustic collage of organ sounds. Excellent work all around. (FdW) Address:


GLUID - TWEE (CDR by Esc Rec)
Its been five years since we had the debut album of Bram van den Oever, also known as Gluid (see Vital Weekly 516, the final review written by Roel Meelkop actually), and in between there was 'Binnensuis', music and text for a dance performance. Van den Oever worked in between his first album 'Gluid' and 'Twee' (two in Dutch) on lots of dance and theatre productions, meanwhile working on bits for this album. The music is more open than on his first album, using not only field recordings but also instruments, but at he core are his Akai S2000 sampler and Atari 1040 ST computer - which are by now pretty ancient machines. The music of Gluid is, however, not very ancient at all. Highly rhythmic music, fully orchestrated with lots of sounds bouncing around, IDM rhythms, small sounds from field recordings, voices and vocals, and all such like. Hard to find a more introspective moment around here, as things keep bouncing and jumping. Joyous music I thought with sometimes a thin black line on the horizon. Trippy music, maybe even psychedelic but then in the modern music. Music that is highly professionally made also, it sounds like an excellent disc. Think Expanding Records, think early Highpoint Lowlife, think Esc. Rec and contemplate: why is this a CDR and not a hot vinyl release? Gluid has the qualities for that.
On a similar rhythmic but different musical course we find T.Bird, whose 'Hold The Gun' is a 3"CDR with MP3's, so much longer than the usual twenty minutes. T.Bird (which stands for talking bird) is a trio of Plastic Monkey on drums, Kester (Ivan Lebedev) on bass and Mutant (Victor Shevtsov) on electronics and sound, with the help of some guitarists. Like Gluid, who is more about electronics than the rock line up of T.Bird, this music is highly psychedelic and krautrock like. Drums bang on, supported by the bass, while the electronics have a free role to swirl and bounce around. Long pieces, easily between eight and twelve minutes, like that should be done with this kind of krautrock. Very spacious rock music. Forget art-rock, dance to space rock. (FdW)


HUM - LOST IN WHITE FLAME (3"CDR by Datura Landscapes)
HUM - LAMBENT (3"CDR by Datura Landscapes)
Its a bit hard to find out if I wrote about Russia's Hum before, since its a word used a lot in Vital Weekly, but with the help of Discogs it always works. This one-man drone project led by Chistov Dmitry handed in two 3"CDR, of which I am not sure if they are very recent, but after performing a little errand for me, I am very happy to return the favor. Apart from releases in Russia he has had a release on Mystery Sea (see Vital Weekly 521), Taalem (see Vital Weekly 612) and Substantia Innominata (see Vital Weekly 656). 'Lost In White Flame' is a thirteen minute piece of drone music, with slowly shifting organ like patterns, rather like one brush stroke. One continuos line going up and then going down. Very gentle ambient music. Nothing new, but great music. I could have easily enjoyed for the whole twenty minutes if used.
The other release lasts twenty minutes and has three tracks and seems a bit older to me, but it operates in a similar territory, in which a band like Mirror set the tone. The title piece is a bit more chilling, but the other two sound actually also quite alright, very much along the lines of the other release. Both of these releases make a fine impression on me. Like said, very much along the lines of Mirror, Ora and whole bunch of others, but with a distinct voice of its own. (FdW)
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