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Vital Weekly 808

img  Tobias Fischer

OVAL – OVALDNA (CD by Shitkatapult)
Limping on one leg, the new Oval CD arrived on our doorstep. OvalDNA is, as the title somewhat suggests, an archive release with some new tracks added for good measure. But not a regular one, as Shitkatapult (awful name for a label incidentally) have included some nice artwork and (drum roll) a bonus CD featuring no less than 2000 sound files (AIFF format) from various stages of Oval’s long career. And what’s more; they’re without any restriction for use! A huge sound bank to dive into. An “open source manifesto”. How much we would have wanted to review that as well. But alas, Shitkatapult have only sent us the audio CD without any sign of the bonus CD or, in fact, the artwork. This makes life a bit more difficult for us at Vital; no track listing, no background information, no nothing. What DO we have then? 25 tracks from the Oval archive, running at a total length of 65+ minutes. Most of these appear to be rare tracks and 12 are, according to the press blurb, previously unreleased. If you know your Oval and its main man Markus Popp (the André Popp of glitch), you will know what to expect. His, almost trademark, sound, is instantly recognizable. In that sense, Popp has certainly made his valuable contribution to music. As to his development; the new pieces sound as recognizable as the older ones. You decide whether that is positive or negative. The press blurb proudly mentions Popp having “reinvented” himself on “O” (his previous release) and having changed methods/concepts, but to my ears nothing much has changed, not even in the pieces I suspect are the new recordings. You can’t really blame Popp though – he’s found his niche. OvalDNA features pieces where you can hear the origin of the sounds (i.e. instruments) and those where there are only unidentifiable glitches. There are aggressive sounds, there are soothing sounds. It’s a bit of everything in the true sense of an archive CD. The sound quality is as perfect as you’d expect of Popp. Personally speaking, I have always had a weak spot for Oval ever since they made one of my all time favorite albums 94Diskont, so this CD sounds fine to me. Add to this the promised bonus CD and you’ll have a perfect combination. You can create your own Oval and Popp can retire. Popp has to wait till January 2012 though, which is when the CD becomes officially available. (Freek Kinkelaar) Address:


According to the website, Xambuca is "not limited to any particular style or category of music" and is principally the project of Chandra Shukla, along with the help of other people, like Jason Scott Furr, RK Faulhaber, Lux Vibratus (Chrome), Elisa Faires, Larry Thrasher, Todd Mellors (Saifir), M.S. Waldron (irr. app. ext.). Its indeed a varied bunch of music on this CD; at one point I was even thinking 'which compilation did I put on?', 'oh no, it was that Xambuca' CD - right'. Throughout this music moves in darker circles, of the more atmospheric depths of music made with synthesizers. But then occasionally a rhythm pops up and here we find Xambuca still lurking in darker corners, with a menacing, sine wave like synth, but the beat marches on like a fine Pan Sonic twin piece. There is no list of instruments on the cover, nor a who's doing what here from the above mentioned list of names, but surely there have been various people involved - it almost has to be. I was thinking about some of the dark stuff that we know from a label like Cold Meat Industry at times, a touch of darkness (to avoid that dreaded word 'gothic' - oops I said it), when there is a slight distorted guitar in some of these tracks. Maybe throughout its a bit too dark for my taste, or maybe too gothic in some ways, I surely like the fact that this is all so highly varied, a criss-cross of the various shades of dark and darker. Quite nice, a bit long perhaps. (FdW)


Makan is a young violinist and composer from California. His compositions have been performed by reputed ensembles like the Kronos Quartet and Ensemble Modern. In 2008 his first CD ‘In Sound’ was released by Tzadik and received good reviews. This new CD presents the premiere recordings of four  powerful works by this promising composer: ‘2’, ‘Zones d’accord’, ‘Target’ and  ‘Resonance Alloy’. In most of these works Makan seeks to maximize possibilities from his minimalistic approach. And he does this with success. The CD opens with ‘2’ (1998), performed by the Either/Or duo of Jennifer Choi (violin) and David Shively (percussion). It is music that immediately grabs you. Violin and percussion operate often almost unisono or along parallel lines.  Especially the speedy sections are intriguing. What I also like about this as well as the other compositions, is that we hear a limited set of instruments, but a whole spectrum of details in the sound constructions. The next piece ‘Zones d’accord’ (2002) is  a piece for dance with French choreographer Françoise Murcia. Performed with verve by Alex Waterman (cello). His playing is breathtaking , virtuoso and with a strong emotional appeal.  Using extended techniques, but at all moments it is a cello we hear. The title piece ‘Target’(2003-4) is a setting of a text assembled from poems by Jena Osman and phrases taken from leaflets dropped over Afghanistan in the wake of Sept. 11. It is divided into 5 sections. It is written for voice, clarinet/bass clarinet, percussion, violin, and cello. Here performed by Laurie Rubin and the California E.A.R.Unit. The ’songs’ have often sliding, meandering and moaning movements by voice and instruments. With the exception of ‘Leaflet II’ that is dominated by a hammering beat. Again a beautiful performance, especially the singing by Rubin. The CD closes with ‘Resonance Alloy’ (2007), performed by percussionist David Shively in an amazing tour de force of this 29 minute work. This piece is about exploring continuously shifting timbres produced by vibrating metals. It is about maximizing sound coming from a limited use of percussion.  It directs our attention to a detailed level of the sounds coming from the vibrating metal, opening a rich and massive sound world, similar to the opening piece. Again an impressive piece. I guess everything is on its place on this cd. A great release. Makan is a composer with a clear and precise handwriting of captivating and engaging music. (Dolf Mulder)


POLLEN TRIO - ROLL SLOW (CD by Hello Square Recordings)
In Vital Weekly 790 we reviewed a short CDR release by Pollen Trio (Austin Buckett (piano, rhodes), Miroslav Buskovsky (percussion, trumpet) and Evan Dorrian (drums, percussion), which was a teaser for the upcoming album, which just arrived. Perhaps due to the nature of improvised music, its odd that 'Peaks', from that teaser release is not on this release. Maybe developments happen at such a speed its hard to keep up. Nine new pieces here of their avant-garde jazz inspired improvisations. Buskovsky left his anklung at home but adds here trumpet, which may, at times, add an even more jazzy feel to these pieces. The mood of playing is very relaxed here, but also very free; or I might rather re-phrase that: the mood of playing is very free, but also very relaxed. Although all acoustic, this release has a very nice low end to it, which may seem from an electronic background, but no doubt is just the warmth of microphones picking up all the right frequencies of this. A well thought release of carefully constructed freedom. Not easily to digest - despite the mellow moods, but a most rewarding release. The new jazzo's from downunder. (FdW)


If I understand well, who knows I do, Maurizio Bianchi gave up doing music and whatever is released now is just 'late'. Or not? Here we have a work - seventy minutes, one track - that has Bianchi on 'calutronic radio-sources', Land Use on 'neurotronics, manipulations' and Pharmakustik on 'atomic recombinations, photosynthesis' and the cover has, again, one of those difficult texts: "Sources of organic matter cause severe arsenic pollution. The palaeohydrological controls on contamination form the essential geochemical response within the acoustic document of Spulfeld. The geochemistry of streams received in the name of electroacoustic and concrete exploration strategy locates the source of contamination and the spread of fluid pollutants. In the case of defining environmental problems Spulfeld reveals the formational anomalies and geostatistical investigation of inorganic and organic particles". I am not sure to which Spulfeld it refers: 18546 Sassnitz or 25557 Oldenbüttel, both in Northern Germany, or just the area of 'dredged material disposal site', anywhere. Now this is the true world of ambient and industrial. Ambient since its all stretched out, as one piece of continuous electronics and industrial since its aim is not to please the listener, but to play music that perhaps depicting that wasteland, that post nuclear landscape, that bleak affair of dumping waste. The perfect soundtrack to a film depicting precisely that: dumping waste, endless lines of trucks with canisters with nuclear waste, of course in black and white. Lots of reverb, lots of synthesized sounds, but also with what seems to me a curious form electro-acoustic music. Not pleasant music but surely all elementary stuff. Not for the weak of heart and or to be played with candlelight. (FdW)


These days Ukranian label Kvitnu seems more active than before. Completely against the delusion of every day they believe in releasing CDs, and what's more: from people that aren't that well known. Here we have Plaster, a duo from Rome, one Gianclaudio Hashem Moniri and Giuseppe Carlini. Music with a beat and with a bite, blurring that area that is both ambient, rhythmic, sharp and focussed. Like with so many releases these days here too we find the influence of Pan(a)sonic, from their early days, with highly minimal beats and at times sine wave like sounds. Yet Plaster also adds more mellow synth like sounds to the material, which sets them aside a bit more than the others in this field, such as the recent release by Sturqen on the same label, or Xambuca, reviewed elsewhere. Also Plaster is a bit more selective in releasing music, selecting only their best pieces. Eight in total, and a varied bunch it is. 'Structures has a great ambient build up, in which the beat only arrives late, whereas 'Component' is steady from the word 'go' and 'Iperstatic' has no beat at all, just a collision of ambience and nasty synth waves. A dark release, depicted in various shades of grey. Essential music - Plaster certainly a world that dwells on past influences but melted them into something of their own. (FdW) Address:


Like Pogus, I associated the name Nate Wooley with improvisation and jazz, but this new work shows he has more tricks up his sleeve. 'The Almond' started out as a small piece for voice and trumpet for Compost And Height, but grew into a much larger piece, lasting now over seventy minutes. Its a work in which we hardly recognize the trumpet as such. Wooley combines a series of recordings of three to ten different pitches on the trumpet recorded in 'different mutes, tunings, with different microphones and in different rooms'. A beautiful piece of drone music is born from this. Think just about any work by Phill Niblock and you are close to the work of Wooley, especially the earlier stuff of 'Niblock For Celli' and 'A Third Trombone'. We don't hear Wooley breathing, just all those pure tones from all those trumpet sounds, which makes a beautiful piece that somewhere around the forty minute point gets nasty and loud - like a menacing mass of drone sounds, which returns for the grand finale. Here we may recognize also a bit of voice material - treated a like choir almost. This is an excellent piece of music, that would not have been out of place on Experimental Intermedia. Very orchestral music, derived from a single instrument. Excellent work this one. (FdW) Address:


Its that time of the season again, and here is the first evidence there of. Christmas is lurking around he corner - never a great season (no newspaper, no e-mail, no mail etc.) but there is something good, which is music. Martin Bramah, erstwhile of The Fall and The Blue orchids, delivered an excellent debut album with his new band Factory Star in 'Enter Castle Perilous' (see Vital Weekly 776) has here a 7"/CD/download (depending where you want to buy it) with The Granite Shore on the flip. Factory Star delivers with 'Lucybel', a great rocking song with an urgent character. There are two more short songs in similar vein, less organ based as the album, but its still there. Madness driven music, christmas or otherwise. The Granite Shore cover a song by Factory Star on the other side, stripped down to acoustic guitar, a sad voice, slow drums, organ - and makes a perfect lullaby for those suffering insomnia. Like me, at times. Great 7". Let's have that season! (FdW) Address:


ANN ROSEN - THIMBLE NOISE (CD by Firework Edition Records)
Press texts by Firework Edition are usually a bit cryptic and this one is not much different. We learn that Ann Rosen is a founding member of Syntjuntan with Lise-Lotte Norelius and Ida Lunden, also she is part of Knypple, Ris & Ros and the Schhh duo. In her own work 'people, meetings, processes, collaborations, spatiality and sound' are all important and that she combines electronics with choirs and chamber music ensembles. So far nothing weird. But then it also says: 'the plan was to compose zo-2 variations for the open second movement in zonula occludens a project were i explore different listening situations in the process they grew into pieces in their own right and could preferably be listened to in headphones zonula occulends or tight junctions are the closely associated areas of two cells whose membranes join together forming a virtually impermeable barrier… the connection that holds different pieces together is the noise' (same interpunction as the on sheet). Now I'm not sure what that all means, but the seven pieces here are quite nice. Quite noise oriented of vast blocks of sounds, which are indeed close together. White noise, static hiss? My guess is as good as yours. But the work has something captivating: Rosen actually composes with this material, so it doesn't remain just static, but sometimes seems to fall apart into the smallest particles and then slowly build up again. Fascinating stuff. Electro-acoustic? Computer music? Analogue electronics? Its all impossible to say. But captivating it is. A CD that has interesting noise, composed noise and as such is great learning material for all those who think that a wall of noise is even remotely interesting. Learn from this!
The backside of the release by Kent Tankred (one half of The Sons Of God) is unreadable and the press text has a quote by Hsu Tun-Li, whom I don't know who he is. Some sort of zen thing I think. The work is just one piece of music, which lasts for an hour. A meditative piece of music (hence me thinking of zen, I guess), of oscillators humming in low and mid range, slowly evolving - very minimal indeed. Sometimes the low end gets more to the foreground, and sometimes the mid-range. It all sounds like an installation piece, although there is no evidence (this release is not yet listed on the website) for that. Quite a beautiful work, I must say. Its a bit raw on the edges, which is something I like (never the real smooth thing) - but contemplative enough to be meditative. Play soft I guess and beauty will unfold like a warm carpet in your living room. Play loud? I am not sure what the consequences would be. (FdW) Address:


A strong marketing campaign is not what expect when I hear the name Eric Lunde, but as I recently noted his return is now complete, with releases coming through other labels. This new one deals with muzak recorded in the shopping mall of of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he was to transport a metal desk, so there is also some car noise used here. Lunde's working methods are known, I hope, by now: recording sounds, playing them in a room, record that with cheap microphones and adding voice like material. Its easy to say that Lunde makes noise and that is probably true. Its at the same also very well possible to call this sound poetry. Voice plays an important role in this work - it is added at some stage in the process and has a likewise deteriorated feel: its not supposed to be understood properly. Now, in general, I don't like noise very much, but with Lunde I find this always in capable hands, even, and that's perhaps the downside a bit, it always sounds alike. That might be the traphole in which Lunde may fall: by being asked by many labels to record new work there might not be room for innovation in music (which is obviously something I like very much). There are, at times, traces of rhythm in here, very minimal and raw, and that's certainly a line to inquire more, I should think. So far, this is a great work, but then so were most of the others (so far). Excellent stuff - time for a next step.
Blake Edwards, also known as Vertonen, and the man behind the Cripplsed Intellect Productions label, has his own marketing strategy, that of the continuou feeding of the market. Only a few weeks ago Vital Weekly 805, I reviewed his tribute to Vivenza (to which he pointed out that those works are already re-issued on CD) and here is a new work, recorded in August and September of this year. Not only a man of many talents, Vertonen's music is also of many faces. He started out in some more noise oriented field, then did a bunch of interesting drone like works, to return to harsh noise and that recent work of machine sounds. 'Deteriorated Broadcast' is a sort of sister work for 'Le Coeur Mecanique' taking the same machine sounds but then just the softer ones, like cooling fans, ventilation duct hum and generators, all heavily treated and slowing dying out, over the course of fifty minutes. This is one of the Vertonen variations I love (just as his machine works, but I was never to fond of his noise works): a highly moody piece of electronic treatments of radio sounds that has a slow build up, and decrescendo, almost like erasing the tape when you are listening to it. This happens twice on this on this work, and it makes throughout a great disc. One of the best I heard from him in some time, even that 'Le Coeur Mecanique' included. Highly delicate music. (FdW) Address:

Nijmegen might not be the biggest city in the world, but it has a lively music scene, with also various labels working inside what I can easily call 'techno' music, like Lomechanik and Shipwrec Records. From that label, who released ten records in less than a year or so, comes a 12" by Steindor Kristinsson, who was once a member of Einoma, an IDM act from Iceland. His solo work is a bit different, and perhaps not easy to describe. The title piece has indeed some kind of weird, mechanical flute like sounds, set against a hard driven technoid beat. Its mechanical indeed, but at the same time its also quite warm and likewise unsettling. On the flip we find 'Madame Claude' which has a sort of oriental beat, which sampled ethnic wind instruments and voices from the market place. A dark, brooding piece of music, which continues in the second piece of on this record, which is entirely absent of any beats and has a great icy ambient feel to it. Flying low over the surface of Iceland, we see vast amount of glaciers, rocks and no trees. Empty and spacious music. A record that is perhaps for the dance floor, but certainly is a great home for home listening. Apparently a CD is the making, so I can't wait for that. (FdW) Address:


The second installment, celebrating twenty years of Dead Voices On Air, in which Mark Spybey invites friends to record pieces together. Here we have Edward Ka-spel of The Legendary Pink Dots. They receive help from Oscar Ruiz Fernandez (guitar, bass) and Carolyn Gannell (cello) on either side of the record. Ka-spel is present with vocals and text, and Spybey plays piano on one side and drums and farfisa on the other. That piano side is a very moody, almost spooky piece. Ka-spel whispers very softly and the music is all sparse. The other side is an entirely different piece of music, almost krautrock like, with multiple layers of organ sounds blearing away and Ka-spel's voice more upfront. This too has a spooky nature, and overall this a great 7". (FdW)


DE/MUTE - BISHAN (3"CDR by Bastets Kitten)
…PLAYS BAD SECTOR (3"CDR compilation by Bastets Kitten)
Two releases on Bastet's Kitten, the recently founded sub-division of the Vuz Records empire. The correct spelling is dE/mutE, a dark ambient project from Germany. His 'Bishan' is a portrait of a city, although I am not sure which city that would be. If I understand well he used field recordings from Singapore, but maybe also from other cities. There is the use of birds singing, water dripping from trees and brooks and traffic sounds. All of this is used alongside with electronic treatments of that stuff. The music starts out with these field recordings - although traffic we don't hear as such - and then slowly the dark ambience takes over. A metallic interruption takes place somewhere, which also gets a similar treatment. Quite a fine work for all those who like Lustmord - there is an extensive use of reverb here - and perhaps as such not the most original work, but it stands in a strong tradition and can easily meet with some of the best in this field.
dE/MutE can also be found on a short remix album (maybe remix single). Now if you have been paying attention, you know I am not too found of remix albums 9or compilations for that matter), but in this case it was made with a specific goal in mind: to have some extra merchandise on the tour that Italy's Bad Sector did in Germany, very recently. My relationship with Bad Sector is one of love and hate, I guess. Sometimes I think there are part of the bigger world of all things dark and gothic, but strangely enough the music is sometimes attracting to me: weird computer manipulations. From a set of samples four bands remixed Bad Sector. Freiband employs more computer manipulations in three variations - strict stereo, almost like from a multi-channel piece. Bastet's darling If, Bwana has a more moody piece at hand, almost like an ambient piece of music.  Hypnoskull as 33Mhz goes in an entirely different direction: very noise like, based around some rhythmic samples, and we recognize some of the uses used by Freiband. All of this culminating in the piece by dE/MutE, who combines the three precious interests (sixties electronics, ambient, noise) into a swirling piece of mood material. Short but great! (FdW)


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