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Vital Weekly 807

img  Tobias Fischer

FLO STOFFNER - …AND SORRY (CD by Veto Records)
This is the debut album of one Flo Stoffner, of whom I never heard. He was born in Zurich, but lives in Hamburg. One could know from his groups Stoffner/Mengis/Schramm, Manuel Mengis Gruppe 6, Lila, Flo Stoffner's electric torture, Palkomuski, Kramer/Stoffner/Lavretto, Humair Quartett, Anna and Stofner, or his improvisations with Joe Lovano, Ellerly Eskelin, Michael Brecker, Dewey Redman, Erik Truffaz, Mathieu Michel, Chris Potter, Nils Petter-Molvaer, Michael Gassmann, Christoph Erb, Johannes Enders, Harald Haerter, Arthur Blythe, Hilaria Kramer, Flo Gotte, Daniel Humair, Paul Lovens, Martin Schutz and Joy Frempong - yes, I copied all the names from press release, simply because I vaguely recognized just one (Paul Lovens), which made me think there is probably a whole of music I have never heard of. Stoffner plays the guitar, solo here from an improvising point of view. It starts out with the longest and most noisy piece of the CD, which didn't do much for me and made no promise for the rest, I thought. But I must admit I was wrong. Noise returns in 'Low Punch' and is still not his strong point. When Stoffner uses the guitar and objects to create sounds, things are much more interesting. Carefully constructing abstract patterns, such as in 'Tingle' and 'Lurch', or almost blues like in the title piece. His music works best when he keeps matters concise and to the point - the shorter pieces here. Maybe he should have chopped down the two noise pieces and added a few more introspective pieces. Throughout quite a varied CD showcasing the various talents this man has. (FdW) Address:


JEAN-CLAUDE ELOY - YO-IN (4CD by Hors Territories)
Today I spend a whole day with Jean-Claude Eloy. Not literally of course, but I listened to these 7 CDs with two works, and read all the material that came along with it. In the case of 'Ahata-Anahata' this is a CD sized book, of 80 pages but with mostly images but in the case of 'Yo-In' this is like a A5/B5 sized book of 150 pages. Now this is not my first encounter with the long works of Eloy, before I reviewed 'Shanti' (2CDs) and 'Gaku-No-Michi' (4CDs) - see Vital Weekly 752. This former student of Darius Milhaud likes to compose lengthy works, although primarily electronic, its not exclusively electronics and these works proof that. 'Anahata' is a work in three parts, the first spanning two discs and the second and third are on the third disc. The work started when Eloy composed a work for a Gagaku orchestra, made up of Japanese traditional court music and Buddhist singers (the first composer to do so other than traditional texts) and then went on to compose this new work, which incorporates electronics, traditional instruments, such as the Sho, O-Sho, Shomyo, Hichiriki and the ryuteki and Japanese voices. The title is from the sanskrit and refers to 'the idea of a fundamental frequency of the universe, an unstruck, unheard sound, a vibration cosmic by nature, translated as 'primordial vibration'' and is a work of great contemplation, certainly the almost 100 minutes of the first part. Here we have large parts of vocal singing, bells sounds and throughout its seems not a lot of electronic music, although in some parts there is some metallic rumble. An excellent part. In part two things start to get a bit louder, the flutes here play an important and electronica is more 'awake', which then culminates in the third part which is the most electronic one, blending vast electronic drones with the sound of the Sho, O-Sho and Alto-Sheng. The cerebral nature of the two other parts seems to be broken here, but the organ like sounds perhaps also make great sense. The first hundred minutes being very contemplative, the next hour there is a great sense of electronic music blending with instruments.
When 'Yo-In' was performed for the first time, it caused mixed reaction - to say the least. Eloy's blending of Japanese (or Asian) music with electronics caused a ripple in the music scene. The extensive book details a lot of what went into producing this work, from his work at the institute of Sonology in Utrecht, the nature of the some 200 percussion instruments used as well as the field recordings, but also the reception of the work, make this an excellent read. For which you have time, while listening to the work: it lasts three hours and forty minutes. The title translates as 'reverberations'. The background, if we may call it like that, is made up of electronic processes of percussions and field recordings, although perhaps a lot of the time not so recognizable. The foreground is filled with the shimmering tones of bells, percussion, toms, and who knows what else - there are a few pictures in the book, but apparently the various performances have never been properly filmed. This work too has a meditative character, but throughout to a lesser extent than 'Ahata-Anahata' - there is no doubt more action here. This too is a beautiful work, especially the longitude works very well. Sit back and listen: there is not much you can do. (FdW)


FLUE - VISTA (CD by Infrastition)
So after a full day of listening to Jean-Claude Eloy's wonderful music, its time to chill out and listen to something completely different. Infrastition loves The Netherlands, and The Netherlands love Infrastition. This French label has a strong interest in music from the 1980s and has brought great re-issues. Not just of Dutch music, but also from say X Ray Pop, Die Bunker, DZ Lectric and Ptose. But for me personally the most interesting thing is the re-issues of Bazooka, Das Wesen, Coitus Int and now (the) Flue. Why you may ask, quite legitimate actually. The online encyclopedia for Dutch music is very brief: "an off-shoot from the band Mecano, producing great new wave with lots of instruments. The 12" "Sometimes (In Arabia)" is a modest hit in the clubs". That's all and that's indeed brief. No year is mentioned, but does it justify a CD re-issue in 2011? Bloody yes, it does. 'Vista' is a great album. Flue started as a band in Vital's home town Nijmegen, who had a bunch of songs and dared with improvisation, resulting in their first album 'One And A Half', produced by Mecano singer Dick Polack. Mecano member Cor Bolten, a highly gifted musician on many instruments, continued with singer Edward Gijsen, which then resulted in 'Vista' and said 12". This album sounds like a starting point for became Mecano's reunion album 'Autoportrait'. A full sound with violins, mandolin, drums, keyboards and a doom laden voice (perhaps the only thing that makes this dated). Very melodic new wave, with a rich sound, not to be compared with a standard new wave set up (drums, bass, guitar, voice, keyboards), almost orchestral. An excellent album all around. Eight absolute great pop songs. Lost sometime, but now recovered. What a great album this is. A must have for all those lovers of 'cold wave', or just fans of great, alternative (old?) popmusic. The only downside is that the 12" could have been part of this CD too - although the title track of that can be found on 'Transmissions: The Netherlands', released by the same label. The first LP was already re-issued in 2005 (on the Mecano label, with bonus material), so it would have been great to have it all on CD… But hell, what I am complaining? (FdW) Address:


Somewhere along the lines I missed out on the third volume of 'World As Will', released in 2008 by Sub Rosa, following the first on Staalplaat (with a controversial cover) and the second on 23Five (see Vital Weekly 321). As far as I understand such matters, 'World As Will' is a work in which Zbigniew Karkowski and Tetsuo Furudate combine orchestral music with computer music - read: noise. At the basis here lie two performances, one for sax, trombone, flute and sine waves and the other for a small ensemble called Sonic Boom. These recordings are slaughtered by the composers during a concert in Tokyo and turned into a racket of noise. Another heavy weight release, with lots of cascading noise samples of orchestral origin spliced on the spot together, fed through the lions of granular synthesis - and who knows what else. Its however in the power of these hands that they know, somewhere in the middle how to pull back and go deeper and deeper into what seems to be the crackling of surfaces with contact microphones, before returning to the world of crashing noise and only to return once more to that somewhat dark underworld, going back up after for a cascading finale. Noise indeed and perhaps I should have left this in the capable hands of Jliat, but this is actually noise of the more intelligent kind. (FdW)


Besides running Audiobulb Records, David Newman occupies the rest of his time with a music project called Autistici, and has so far released an album on 12K and on his own label, plus some CDRs of archive material. It would be all to easily to lump him with the 'lot' who use computer as the primary instrument, since the cover here lists so much more: piano, violin, acoustic guitar, cracklebox, vocal chord, harpsichord, mellotron, organ, harp, bass guitar, cutlery, homemade electronics bought, made and bent, field recordings of the world inside and out'. Ah, you would say, but do we have any real evidence that he uses all of that, or is it 'all beyond recognition' as usual? I am happy to report that in these ten pieces we actually recognize a piano, a bass guitar, a voice and such like. What Newman does is not to create ten similar pieces of music, of stretching the given material into ambient glitch, but to set himself out to compose small pieces with all of these instruments. Rounded off, finished compositions. These ten are also highly varied in approach, even using rhythm from time to time, a heavy one in "Tower Location", but that's a rarity. Autistici work a lot with small melodies, warm and delightful, almost in a poplike context at times, and at other times in a beautiful ambient or abstract manner. I should think that this is easily the best work by Autistici I heard so far. A matured sound, all thought out, and carefully executed. That is the way to do it! (FdW)


NORD - LSD (LP by PCP Records)
There is, on discogs, quite a funny description of the Japanese band Nord, which I will quote more or less in its entire form: "Band Formed In 1979,by Satoshi Katayama And Hiroshi Oikawa. In 1983, Ktayama Parted From Oikawa. Oikawa Had Named His Solo Unit "Nord". And Katayama Had His Unit Named "Nord" Too. So 2 Bands Named "Nord" Was Born. Oikawa's "Nord" Released "L.S.D.","Ego Trip","N.G. Tapes", But Had No Live Shows. From The Latter Period Of 80's, He Had Kept Silence. Katayama's "Nord" Had Joied New Member, Makoto Ito.They Had Many Activity In Works. In 2003,Ito Left The Band. After That,Hiroshi Hasegaw (a.k.a. Astro) Joined The Band. In 2006,Hasegawa Left The Band. So Nord got Katayama's Solo Unit." I am sure at one point in my life I had the LP "Ego Trip", which I believe was already worth a few pennies, but now probably a bit more. I may have sold it earlier, but I remember it as a nice record. I don't think I ever heard 'L.S.D.' before, but surely, vaguely, I remember what Nord sounded like. Synthesizer like with a few sound effects, and a somewhat improvised sounding guitar. The b-side starts with 'Somebody To Love' from Jefferson Airplane and that gave me the romantic notion of somebody playing the radio and then thinking to create his own music. If anything, Nord is probably highly inspired by Maurizio Bianchi in his more early ambient phase, non directional, just moving and pushing sound around, using a synthesizer, sound effects and klingklang on the guitar. The third piece takes of like quiet cosmic ship. Highly psychedelic music - one could as easily argue this to be the missing link between early seventies cosmic music from Germany, ambient of Bianchi and the current trade of cosmic music. Excellent stuff from the old days - now I wish I hadn't parted from that other Nord LP. (FdW)


ILYA MONOSOV - COLLECTED WORKS OF (LP by You Don't Have To Call It Music)
NIKOLAUS EINHORN - ARBEITEN (LP by You Don't Have To Call It Music)
Apparently there was some necessity to do promotion, as You Don't Have To Call It Music send me six labels - fair enough: three were friends' labels. Ilya Monosov was just released, but 'Wiederaufnahmeverfahren 11/06' was already released in 2007 and the Nikolaus Einhorn LP was already released in 2008 - so a bit older than six months. The Hjuler/Bar LP in an edition of 100, which I think means that a) vinyl doesn't always sell (otherwise: why bother with a promo now) and b) limited editions are not a guarantee for quick turnover. Ah, but this is a second edition, only re-released a few months ago, with misprinted labels. Maybe this has to do with recent wave of interest in the work of Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Bar. To the new fans this musical project this album will be most welcome. Its a collection of pieces that were released on CDR or cassette by the group themselves and give a nice insight in the early work. Pretty noisy, with feedback manipulation, but also lo-fi loops cut crudely on a reel-to-reel machine, vocal stuff/sound poetry like and bits of electronics. I am not a real fan, old or otherwise, but I think this is all quite nice. I have a weak spot I guess for this sort of manipulation of sound, using the lowest possible means. Its not always spot-on, but quite nice altogether.
The real new thing however is the LP by Ilya Monosov. One of those people who I can never pin down, clouded with mystery. This LP is called 'The Collected Works', which is odd, since that wouldn't fit on a LP - the man has released more LPs than this. There is a CDR enclosed with lots of other works by Monosov, so maybe its a farewell record? You see, mystery all around. Monosov is, I believe at least, a more or less conceptual composer with a strong interest in the minimal aspect of things. The pieces here are collected from 2000 to 2007 and are self-explanatory: 'For Two Glitching Organs', 'Autonomous Guitar Music', 'Music For Broken Music Box and Drum Machine' and such like. Some of them are recorded with one Preston A. Swirnoff, and throughout these pieces are spacious. Not really in an ambient sense of the word, but sparse orchestrated, even when it sometimes is a bit louder than what you would expect. It gives a pretty over view of Monosov's work for those who missed out on his previous work (I think there are few overlaps with previous releases). Clouded with mystery indeed, but this record might serve (again?) as a nice introduction into the world of this fine composer.
And oh: that Nikolaus Einhorn record is an interesting piece from 1973 of sound poetry. A loop like Steve Reich's 'Come Out' phasing in and out on the word 'arbeiten' (working). The other side is also from 1973 and not released before. It applies the same working method but then for chimes in the wind - or perhaps its just chimes in the wind. Get a copy while they last. (FdW)


Its all semantics of course, but this is announced as 12", mini LP, with three tracks, still spanning around thirty minutes and its the first in a series of six (which is going to include Philippe Petit/Cindytalk, Brian Conniffe, Human Greed, Main and Theme), although I am not sure what ties these together. I never heard of Glass Out, being the project of Andrew Dewar Ainslie. Main sales point here is the reading of the Coil manifesto by Jhonn Balance (from a rarely heard session by VPRO Radio) on the piece 'Manifesto'. Electronic music this is, with slow oscillating beats, melodies and spoken word. Quite gentle music here, slowly evolving and highly atmospheric. I am not sure if this is all done with a bunch of synthesizers (analog or digital), or if there was perhaps some other instrument in play here. But the thoughtful atmospheric pieces of music work pretty well here. Its a pity that its only three pieces since it would be interesting to see what other tricks this guy has up his sleeve.
Nick Mott I may not have heard before but I heard the band he was in, Volcano & The Bear, plus he was also a member of Spectral Armies and Skeleton Birds And The Number Of God). His one sided 7" was planned in 2007 but only is released, in an edition of 100 and comes with a special A4 print on cardboard. Like with the 12" its a pity there is only one side here, which never gives a clear view of what this music is really about. A rumble of percussive sounds and some strange voice material, actually played by others, make up a short but intense piece of music, with a subtle ending. Here too, I ask: give us more to be fully objective. But this certainly tastes like more. Great package too. (FdW) Address:


Over the years we have reviewed quite a few releases by Spanish guitar player Ferran Fages, either solo or in collaboration with others, such as Alfredo Costa Monteiro. Here is a work which was 'recorded and edited from July to October 2010', which sounds odd, since it more or less sounds like something that was recorded in one take. Fages plays here acoustic guitar, contact mics and speakers and does that for the entire forty three minutes and fifty one seconds. But then perhaps its recorded in multiple takes, come to think of it: by applying the same working method a few times and then overlaying the various results. A highly drone  like piece of music here of singing, swirling overtones, singing loudly. A gorgeous piece of music I'd say, but then its because I am sucker for this kind of stuff I guess. Objectively speaking I am inclined to report that this kind of music has been done before, by Fages, by others, and as such its probably not the most original kind of drone music. A massive wall of sound for sure, and when played loud, forming a loud menacing piece of music. (FdW)


ZHA - NOISE OF NATIVE ORDER (CDR by Bio Sonar Labyrint)
When I got the album "Noise of Native Order" in my hands, it reminds me to a piece of children art. Simple paintings with felt-tipped pen and some dots of aquarel ink. Not really impressive, but when I listened to the music I could not find the match between the artwork and the sublime played music. Abysov Piotr and Zhigalov Sergej recorded in May 2010 an ambient album with a lot of sound-sources like metal pipes cuts, paper, wood, voice, singing bowls, digeridoo, oshen drum, bells and ocarina. The 14 tracks are built up carefully and takes the listener to the deeper parts of his consciousness. Singing bowls disturb the meditative moment, to keep the attention as high as possible. The ambient atmosphere is pure by the intense play of both musicians. It is a pity that this album has a limited edition of 52, because this album deserves more than this.
Boevye Cykady released several albums at Extremal Psychonauts and did some cooperation CDRs at Bio Sonar Labyrint. Schtrihi Trepeta is a re-release. First release is at Extremal Psychonauts in 2004 in a limited edition of 34. All labels are connected with 8th Moon Art which has different sub-labels. So, you can keep yourself busy with releasing and re-releasing. But let's get back to the music. The eight untitled electronic compositions are completed with sounds of insects and water. The third track has a long extending sound wave which is hardly to hear. You need a good audio device to hear this subtile sounds. The compositions are well edited and I really like the created rhythms and loops by natural sounds which gives the CDR an open soundscape. Although again a limited edition? So which other label will come up with the next re-re-release? (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


TIM COSTER - A PLACE IN THE SUN (cassette by Fictitious Sighs)
There have been a number of releases by Tim Coster over the years, mostly on his own label CLaudia, but also Gest and Pseudo Arcana, most of them solo, but also as a member of Plains. On this new cassette there are five tracks of what is no doubt laptop music, as that is what he preaches. These five pieces are quite similar, even when they have different titles (so not part 1, 2, 3 etc.). Short loops of sine wave like sounds, or perhaps an organ of some kind, which are played in a slow, but seemingly random fashion, going in and out of phase, but as said, slowly meandering about, although not necessarily very ambient. More like modern electronic music, such as we find on a label like Experimental Intermedia. Quite a nice little release, this one. (FdW)
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