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Vital Weekly 806

img  Tobias Fischer

The work of Frysian poet Jan Kleefstra first came to the foreground when he released a CD with Machinefabriek, 'Piipstjilling' (see Vital Weekly 627). Since there have been various other releases with Machinefabriek, but Kleefstra also worked with people like Gareth Davis, Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Heather Woods Broderick and Greg Haines, mostly along with his brother Romke, who plays guitar. Here the Kleefstra brothers work with 'multi-percussionist' Sytze Pruiksma, also from Frysian descent no doubt, and who is a member of NoDo, a Dutch improv ensemble of which I never heard. The music on their trio CD sounds very much like what I heard on the previous works with Machinefabriek. I don't speak or understand Frysian, which is a dialect or language (whichever way you look at it), so that is a bit of a problem, but English translations are provided. Kleefstra recites his poetry in the way he usual does, very moody, very atmospheric and very open, wide open, like the country he is surrounded with. Empty land, with a lighthouse, with small lakes. But the reciting of poetry is only a small part of the whole deal. The guitar playing of Romke Kleefstra and the percussion of Pruiksma are perfect companions to this. The usual procedure here is that the two instrumentalists start playing by slowly strumming a guitar, Pruiksma working his kit with objects, bows and such like, basically anything that is beyond regular hitting skins with sticks, and once they have the mood in motion, then Jan Kleefstra tells his bit, which is usually not very long but it fits the music quite well - or vice versa of course. Maybe there is a downside to be noted to: there is not much difference with Piipstijling, and one could all to easily mistake these two projects. Maybe Jan Kleefstra should try his hand at singing one day? (FdW) Address:


Somebody like Jan-M Iversen has made a lot of releases, mostly on CDR, cassette, MP3 - formats that are easy and cheap. Maybe Iversen realized that sometimes you want to have something that looks and sounds really good. A product that goes beyond the usual low form CDR/cassette etc. This has lead to a book, full color and 24 pages, with CD, that more or less explains the various things that Iversen is busy with, 'Modern Day Silence'. Each track is explained in the book, together with a bunch of pictures that he took, as well as their relation to other pieces. So for instance we learn that 'Rheinlander Classic' started out from chopping up Chopin pieces, but then added a few other bits. Some of the text is a bit clumsy: "It came together nicely, I think. You may think what you will" - mmm, but perhaps its all so much down to earth that it is actually really funny, or not (you may think what you will). The music is very much the kind of music we know from Iversen in the last few years: computer treatments of a few sounds, stretched out, slowly developing, minimalist changes. Sometimes its source is a bit of classical music, sometimes its field recordings or even a tune from TV. Small bits of loops are placed somewhere in the mix and added along the way. Four quite long pieces here, and three being a bit shorter. Music such as produced by Iversen needs a bit of time to fully develop to fully unveil its beauty. This is certainly the best overall introduction one could wish for Iversen. And if you are a follower already, it rounds up things very nicely. (FdW) Address:


THE LAWLESS - HABIT FORMING (CD by Mille Plateaux Organic)
In the Mille Plateaux world of sub-labels there is another one, Organic, 'it expands the range of Mille Plateaux's sounds by (electro)acoustic, avant-pop or, simply put, non electronic productions." As a freebie to start up the label I got a free condom. The Lawless is one Ross McLean who spend two years producing this album, by playing all the instruments himself, and that's a lot of them: drums, piano, keyboards, accordeon, flutes, glockenspiel, percussion and backing vocals and Fifi Dewey lends her voice on a couple of tracks, mostly with wordless singing. Although the music is not entirely my cup of tea, its quite good. All to easily one could think that this all sampled together, but apparently its not. The Lawless is a bit like Mike Oldfield playing all of it on 'Tubelar Bells', although entirely different kind of music. The link with Oldfield is that this music is as equally cinematic as 'Tubelar Bells' (used in 'The Excorcist'), but then more for excellent B-movies, say of the Tarrantino nature. Its all highly sixties like, no electronics, just a tight band playing with pretty warm songs, mysterious and melancholiac. This guy should move, if not already, to Hollywood and find employment in the soundtrack industry. He might be big! Like said, perhaps not my kind of music, but its all done in a superb way. (FdW) Address:


Of the two received releases by Canada's Oral label I left one with Jliat, but I heard about of that Harsh Noise Wall, and together with this, one could say its quite a bit of change for the label, which we have known for electro-acoustic music, microsound and those mighty fine re-issues of Monoton. So Lanterner is different than most of the releases on Oral. Lanterner is a duo of Marc-Alexandre Reinhardt (from Montreal, also of Hyena Hive) and Steve Bates, originally from Winnipeg. They met at a BBQ and hit it off after a three hour session of playing music together. I am not sure if this CD stems from that first session, but it starts out in a heavy mood. Guitar and drums bang along, but it turns out that they want to make a heavy first impression, before showing their capacities in more quieter areas of drones, rock, noise and spacey psychedelic ambiance. Here we have seven tracks that sound like Yellow Swans recorded on analogue, cheap equipment, in a basement in New Zealand. Rough on the edges, if you know what I mean. Refinement is not their keyword. Sometimes the drums (Reinhardt) bang out, like a rock group, but on other occasions its more spacious, improvised noise of 'a not so noise kind'. Oral makes a reference to This Heat, which at first I thought was odd, but perhaps it does make sense, come to think of it. Not because of the singing, as there is none here, but in moving from rock to improvisation, from noise to the sheer love of experimentation with sound. This Heat indeed, or perhaps also a bit like Dome. But all of which in a some what more lo-fi manner here and all a tad bit more noise based. Quite a fine discovery. (FdW)


STURQEN - PRAGA (CD by Kvitnu)
Cesar Rodrigues and David Arantes hail from Portugal and call themselves Sturqen. Their album 'Peste' won two nominations in the Qwartz Electronic Music Awards, but I never heard of them. Fifteen tracks here, spanning seventy-two minutes - which deems to me always a bit much. Kvitnu describes it as 'extreme industrial dark techno atmosphere with deep psychedelic attitude', which is probably quite appropriate for the music on hand. What the label doesn't do, is drawing similarities with other bands, but if there is one influence that stands out a mile is that of Pan Sonic, especially in their earlier work. That's where they experimented with groovy techno inspired beats and sine wave like synthesizer sounds. Cold and clinical, and that's exactly the kind of music that Sturqen makes. Although I think this album is quite nice, I also think its a bit too long. Maybe there are a bit too many weaker brothers in these pieces, which should have been weeded out. Pieces like 'Avalanxe' or 'Esquecida' are not really necessary, and a piece like 'Tango' is probably what they call 'psychedelic' but doesn't seem to get off the ground. Leave some of those out and the album would gain so much more power. Now its a fine, long album, in stead of a great, somewhat shorter album. Fans for that early minimalist techno sound should take notice here! (FdW)


The cover says big Go-Go Beuys-Band, but if I understand the liner notes correctly, this is a split Cd of two bands, Automatic Pilot and Go-Go Beuys-Band. in both bands we find Marek Choloniewski and Krzysztof Knittel, the latter also with a bunch of other people. Automatic Pilot was more a sort of ad-hoc band, recording a bunch of impromptu electronic songs in 1985 at the Electroacoustic Music Studio of the Academy of Music in Krakow, using a variety of analog gear and some guest players on saxophone and female voice. The saxophone plays a dominant role on the Go-Go Beuys-Band, a bit jazz like over a moderate electronic backing. A sort of experimental electronic jazz, that would probably go down well with the Recommended Records scene, but for me did not much. The ten pieces by Automatic Pilot however where much more interesting, all also in a free mode, a bit jazzy, but with the saxophone less dominant. Here we have a typical 80s underground that would not have been out of place on a label like Insane Music. The voices go through vocoders, the rhythm machine ticks time away nicely. I was reminded of Craig Burke here and there. Lots of naivety in play here. Luckily these ten tracks are at the beginning. (FdW)


With some reluctance I will admit I visited a Fantasy Fair - twice actually - all of course in the name of socio-research, but it was fun. I was reminded of those two sunny days on this grey autumn day when listening to the music of Stone Breath. They sound like the various bands I saw on that Fantasy Fair. A trio here of Brooke Elizabeth on vocals, Don Belch on 6 and 12 string guitars and drones and one timeMotheye on banjo, moon guitar, whistles, wood flute, dumbek, stick dulcimer. A deep voice, tinkling of guitars, a bit folk like, but also a bit ethnic - maybe I am also reminded of some of the work by Dead Can Dance, come to think of it, but never too clean and with a certain wicked edge. One very short and two quite long pieces - epic I guess, in a sort of Mediaeval sense. Usually not my of tea, but I thought this was all pretty good.
More folk on the other side by Mike Seed and The Language Of Light (being Frank Suchomel, R. Loftiss and Justin Jones). Here no instruments are specified, but I believe to hear a few keyboard like instruments - harmonium perhaps - but also violins, guitars plus the rumble of some objects. Now here too we have some folk like music but its even less traditional than the side by Stone Breath. Mike Seed's voice sounds tormented and the pieces almost like murder ballads. Much more radical, less musical, free form etc this side leaves a mighty impression on me. Still not the kind of music that I am usually into, but it sounds all quite immersive, especially the closing piece 'For A Good Friend'. Excellent record. (FdW) Address:


FRANCISCO LOPEZ - HYPOGEION (cassette by Mantricum Records)
FRANCISCO LOPEZ & CARLOS VILLENA (split cassette by Mantricum Records)
Francisco Lopez is active for more than 30 years and released for more than 250 labels worldwide and cooperated with more than 150 soundartists. Hypogeion has been recorded in 1992 and now released as a C40 tape at Mantricum Records, the label from Spain run by Carlos Villena. The four tracks have a dark atmosphere created in great hall. Drones and ongoing sounds are the base of metal beats and manipulated piano touches. The music develops from an open character to more enclosed and isolated sphere to subtile blasting noises. Lopez knows how to create an anxious world and knows how to play with the listener to present him different sound palettes. I really do not know why this recordings have been released almost 20 minutes after mastering, because this work is really beautiful to listen to.
The other tape is a split with Carlos Villena. Lopez as well Villena uses field-recordings from nature. Both musicians create a quiet atmosphere by the sounds of water, crickets, ducks and other animals. Lopez repeats some sounds and edited them in a small ways, so the natural sound becomes more stylized in a minimal ways. He creates a flow of sounds, but he decides not fade away and fade into the other parts of the composition, but he does a cut between these parts, as if the different fields are not connected with each other. The tape side of Villena starts noisy with strong water sounds and becomes in first sight more and more abstract and later on more relaxed and calm. Great tape with subtile edited field recordings. (Jan-Kees Helms)


MICHAEL BARTHEL - NOCH MEHR HOHLEN (cassette by Razzle Dazzle)
If you are a laptop musician, then you are probably one of the few musicians to play a concert with actually performing, if we discount the act of switching the computer on of course. But that's what Ruben Patino (sometimes known as Pato) did on the 11th of December 2010 in Berlin's venue Ausland, on a shared night with Mattin (another lover of such conceptual computer music I would think). Patino has had releases on Mattin's Free Softwares Series, Le Petit Mignon and Skyndo and studies Sonology these days. There are eleven pieces ('stereo movements') on this release which remind me of the more classical approaches of sixties electronic music, Planet Of The Apes, BBC radiophonic workshop and such like. Oscillations, glissandi, clustered sounds, all appear in a rather natural vein. Quite a fine release. Simple, yet effective. Beautiful stuff actually.
The other cassette is by one Michael Barthel of whom I never heard, but who releases his own music since the mid 90s on his own label, Recordings for the Summer, as well as on Tochnit Aleph. He deals with 'sound poetry and conceptual art influences'. On this rather short, twenty minute or so, tape its all about voice material. Its hard to say what he does with this material, but its not the (obvious?) kind of computer processing - or so it seems; apparently he uses very 'poor gear', according to the website. In the beginning we hear a voice, reciting a text, but hard to understand, and then it moves over into a piece (same piece?) for loops of just a few sounds, maybe all produced by his mouth. It sounds as curious as it is obscure. There seems a straight line from Schwitter's 'Ursonate' to this tape, which could have been released in the seventies on Germany's finest imprint for sound poetry, S Press. Two excellent releases from this UK label. My first encounter and a fine one indeed. (FdW)


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