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Vital Weekly 809

img  Tobias Fischer

Now this is the kind of band you don't see very often, I think, although I don't think they would approve of my use of the word band. Alla Zagaykevych is responsible for the composition and programming (although I am not sure what it meant with programming), live electronics, vocal and theremin with Iryna Klymenko (vocal), Sergiy Okhrimchuk (violin, vocal) and Vadim Jovich (percussion). The ensemble has an interest in the 'primitive mystery and "elusiveness" of the folklore of North-Western region of the Ukraine'. The music from this area is something we should be able to hear in the music, but that is perhaps only if you know the original version. Although Zagaykevych is credited with composition, I must say that a lot of this sounds like improvisation and just the second part sounds more folk like, with a lot of traditional singing. Throughout these three lengthy pieces there is some interesting variations to be spotted. The first part is no doubt the most improvised one, which reminded me of AMM and Morphogenesis meeting up - especially through the use of drums. The second piece is the most traditional one, as said, mainly through the use of vocals, although clashing in with the use of modern electronics and scraping of cymbals. The third part is again more improvised like, with a major role for the flute, violin, percussion and the electronics providing a more mellow backdrop - here its more Morphogenesis than AMM, I suppose. Bands of this kind, combining a band structure, along with improvisation and electronics are these days a rarity - as far as I can view such matters of course - and this ensemble plays some excellent music in that style. (FdW) Address:


Last week a Dutch newspaper ran an article on the new quiet scene, highlighting such artists as Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick, placing them in the same tradition as Brain Eno collaborating with Harold Budd. Now either the journalist isn't aware of Fennesz's work Ryuichi Sakamoto, or he may have missed out on this CD by just a bit. But if he would have, he would have surely admitted to the fact that this one is more alike Eno/Budd than Frahm, Broderick et all would be. Whilst on tour in Japan, Sakamoto recorded twenty-four different compositions/improvisations at the beginning of each show, with a future collaboration with Fennesz in mind. These pieces cover all twenty-four tonal steps in the Western tonal system. Fennesz worked on these pieces using electronics, guitars and synthesizers and then, together with Sakamoto, mixing the whole thing. Very much like "The Pavilion Of Dreams" or "The Plateaux Of Mirror" this is some excellent ambient music of great, pure piano music with sparse 'other' means. A guitar for instance is something that is very hard to recognize in this, but indeed there might electronics or synthesizers lurking somewhere to add a bit of space and spice to it. Elegant, late night music of great, unworld-like beauty. Tones shimmer from all corners of the room and through it has a great gentleness. Spacious in a big, universal way. (FdW) Address:


Try this at home, if you can. Use oscilloscope software for this visual music - file under: visual music, difficult, anti-genre, it says on the press release. Russell Haswell is best known, I guess, as a composer of music of the more extreme nature, noise to some, but this new CD sees him taking matters to an extreme 'other' level. While playing this on analogue modular synthesizers along with his usual electronics and pedals, Haswell watched the whole thing on X-Y oscilloscope, and plays his pieces in real-time ('no overdub, no midi'), improvising them on the spot. Shouldn't you have an X-Y oscilloscope at hand, the booklet provides fifteen images of them, that make at times chaotic patterns and sometimes very logical patterns, and I guess it follows the music quite accurately. Obviously I am (perhaps) to lazy to search for some software to look at this music, but the potential seems very great, in my opinion, but just the music is also quite nice. It follows the same pattern of chaos and order - and work best for me when order is restored. Altogether it sees Haswell move away from the strict noise battles of his earliest work and do something that I think is all the more interesting. Maybe at seventy-two minutes this is quite a tour de force and as a pure music CD a bit overwhelming - I think I better load that software and watch the whole thing when listening. In terms of concept and noise, an excellent release. (FdW)


From the many works of Francisco Lopez only very few are created for real instruments and with real players, but 'Untitled #275' is such a work. A work created with Dutch piano player Reinier van Houdt of the Ensemble MAE. Two movements, of which one leads to another. In the first movement Lopez created a work for Van Houdt on a mechanically-prepared piano and the second is a 'evolutionary studio transformation' of the first movement. The first movement starts out loud with a repeated fast banging on the piano for some five minutes, followed by a movement that is very soft, but also repetitive, to return for some more banging and a long fourth part of sheer silence, ending on a sparse note. An intriguing piece of modern composed music. In the second movement, the piano sounds return and sound indeed like a piano - most of the time. Sometimes they are slowed down, sometimes they are pitched in a different way. None of this movement gets very silent, but the dynamics are pretty extreme from time to time. Lopez creates a very spacious piece here of long sustaining sounds, with the use of additional reverb and plenty of equalization to create a different kind of piece. Towards the end a more computerized treatment arises from all of those which sound a bit more crackling with a deep end solemn bang on the can below. Now I'm not sure if Lopez consider collaborations like this on a more regular basis, but I hope he does. Field recordings might be his main trade, its here, in works like this, when we hear him do something out of his usual ordinary, and I think he does that pretty well, so it should be explored more. (FdW)


With this one Pogus did an extraordinary job of musical archeology. A very hot release! This retrospective cd contains 5 compositions by Corner, composed between 1958 and 1985 in unbelievable performances by Goldstein. Corner is a multi talent, but composing is his main craft if I’m right. He studied with Luening, Cowell, Messiaen, and many others. He was part of the Fluxus movement from its beginning. Goldstein is a longtime friend of Corner and performs his music since the early 60s. Goldstein is a composer himself of chamber music and electroacoustic works, but I know him best as an incredible violinist. Four of the recordings on this cd catch Goldstein performing live, and have not been released earlier. Only the most recent composition, ‘The Gold Stone’, evidently dedicated to Goldstein, was recorded in the studio. Corner himself is present on only one piece, playing piano on ‘Gamelan Maya’. It has Corner playing continuously one note in a steady  pulse with slight changes. In contrast, Goldstein plays very scratchy and irregular lines on his violin, and also chants from time to time. ‘The Gold Stone’ has Goldstein in another stunning performance. The playing of this extraordinaire performer goes directly into your nerve system, like in the opening composition ‘Philip Corners Piece for Malcolm Goldstein by Elizabeth Munro’. My God, is he good. His playing is continuously on the cutting edge. Passionate and truly amazing! Because of this, this release may be experienced as very demanding and heavy. That’s true. But above all, a meeting with music of such an intense and deep impact, is a very rewarding experience, making one grateful (Dolf Mulder)


THE RACE!!! - EP (CDR by Prescot Recordings)
On this new solo album Ross Hammond, guitarist from  Sacramento  creates a set of moods that refer to different periods and moments in his personal life. The album is dedicated to his daughter Lola. We hear her on several tracks on the background. Everything on these 11 instrumentals is played by Hammond himself: electric and acoustic guitars, mbira, lap steel, bass guitar, drum machines and electronics. The pieces that have Hammond playing guitars plus some electronics I like best.  The pieces where he uses using drums and drummachines, like in the opening piece ‘Weatehrstone’ or ‘The H in H Street stands for Holla’, didn’t  satisfy me. The atmospheric playing by Hammond on guitar combined with the mechanic drummachines don’t make a successful unity. Where guitar loops are on the background of his soloing, the results are far more enjoyable. Like in ‘We can’t  take this for granted’ where I had to think of Fripps Frippertronics. Most pieces on this album breath reflective moods. Hammond is a soulful player, close to jazzy and bluesy  idiom, and slightly experimental in his way of working. ‘Strauss is everywhere’ is the one that did it for me.  A beautiful balance of emotional content and musical form.
The Race!!! Is a free jazz collective led by Hammond. In 2005 they released  their first one, called ‘Travels’.  This new release catches them in two different live recordings. Obviously this release is dedicated to their mate Byron Blackburn who died of cancer a few years ago. The first piece ‘Betrayed by Gamma Rays’ that was played at Byron Blackburn’n Memorial Show. We hear The Race in a line up of twelve musicians, dominated by a big section of saxophones and other wind players.  The other piece, ’Goal Number One’ , has them in a smaller line up as a quartet, with Blackburn on bass. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


SZILARD - SPOKES (CD by Palaver Press)
Jeremy Young was formerly the guitarist of a post rock band The Slowest Runner and Sontag Shogun and has played with Matana Roberts, Aki Onda, Tom Carter and Itta Exist and now works as Szilard. His solo career started with a concert in Beijing, with a piece for guzheng, a loop pedal and 13 reel-to-reel tapes with street sounds of said city. For his first physical release, 'Spokes', he turned to texts of Charles Baudelaire, the well-known 'Les Fleurs Du Mal'. This release is about dialogues in four forms, 'man/nature, man/machines, nature/machines and tones/tones', using sine and square waves, along with voices recorded on a damaged tape (including a cat!), as well as guitar and piano playing. An album of delicate music. Shimmering tones, soft tinkling guitars, mellow sine waves, and those damaged voices. The whole dialogue aspect went a bit over my head, I must admit, but I wasn't paying attention that much to that aspect - drawn into, or perhaps sucked into the music that much. Its music to dream away too. Soft, not very outspoken (pun intend), but highly poetic and intimate. For all those who love a bit of talking (which is really not a lot here) and drones made with strings. Although perhaps not the most original release, I thought it all came across pretty strong. (FdW) Address:


Liner notes in Japanese, Dutch, English and Russian, but not necessarily translations of each other. It is a work that was created in a short time span. On June 4 this year Roel Meelkop received a mail from a Japanese composer, Takanobu Hoshino, with a sound file. Upon request, Hoshino mailed some more and a collaboration was started. Now, December 1st, I am already reviewing the result, released on a CD. That is quick, I think. Hoshino is from Fukushima, the city of three disasters, earlier this year: an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear power plant disaster. To the people of Fukushima this CD is dedicated. All of this is hard to ignore when listening to the music. Three pieces here of which the first, 'Hoshinosolonext' and the last, 'From A Long Distance', are quite minimal affairs. The first is has chirping insects sounds and faint traces of field recordings (cars in the background) - the happy countryside, not aware of its impending disaster? The last piece has similar field recordings but sound a bit distorted (processed or possessed?), to which at the end a high end peep comes in - the postnuclear landscape? In the middle we find the title piece, which last twenty-eight minutes and which starts out very soft for quite some time, and ends in a rather unusual (for Meelkop) noisy way. This piece is divided in three parts, perhaps one for each disaster - perhaps I'm reading too much in this, and knowing Meelkop this might very well the case. The first part is a bit vague of slowly shifting sounds, like a turntable not playing properly, while the second is a low/mid end rumble of slowly evolving tone(s) and the third is the noise part. This, I must say, is quite a strong work, and before you go accusing me of never saying anything bad about mister Meelkop, this work is a standout. Maybe its the narrative aspect of the music, rather unusual for Meelkop, but this is somehow quite sad and grim - and oh, as such: very beautiful. (FdW) Address:


Maybe with a title like 'Documental' one could think we are dealing here with release of older pieces, lost on forgotten compilations, but in fact its not. This is all new music, recorded earlier this year. Minamo is a quartet from Tokyo, who combine acoustic instruments with electronics. Guitars, piano, bells and laptop. They have produced already an interesting body of work over the years for such labels as Apestaartje, 12K and Room40, but on 'Documental' they seem to extend their sound in a somewhat wider field. Their music is usually generated through improvisation (edits here were made by label boss Lawrence English, so I assume from bigger/larger pieces), but their music here (five lengthy pieces) seems more open with the laptop/electronics being pushed a bit more to the background and with a bit more space for the acoustics, creating more refined detail in their music. Minamo is perhaps on of those odd-ball groups, which make them hard to place, if of course that is something you want. It sounds improvised, that much is clear, but there is a great delicacy in this music, which makes it also 'ambient', or perhaps even 'microsound' by some standard, but also like a small ensemble playing modern classical music. A piece like 'Handbook', the shortest here, seems to be combining all of this is a perfect way. A small new road is explored here, and its done in a great way. Way to go! (FdW) Address:


Funny or intriguing titles re to be remembered, so by the time they are re-issued a light bulb flashes and one thinks: 'ah I reviewed that before'. So I did, in Vital Weekly 468: "This is the third work I encounter from Keith Berry, following his CD on Trente Oiseaux (Vital Weekly 416) and Authorized Version (Vital Weekly 450). Berry studied a lot of philosophy - from Lao tzu to Nietzsche and from the I Ching to Wabi Sabi - after which he decided to set these ideas to music. Using just a computer and software, he creates some beautiful drone related music. I believe that the sources he uses are the usual field recordings, but on some of the pieces on this new work, I am led to think they might also be real instruments, at least in a couple of tracks. Usually Berry takes a minimum of sound information and expands just on that little bit of sound information. Stretching it, altering it, making multiple layers and what other tricks the computer has to offer. Maybe what Berry does is quite simple but it's hardly of importance (see also the review of Jonathan Coleclough and Lethe's new CD). A lot of things are simple and easy to make, but to make it stand out from the rest is where the real power of the music lies. And in these eight pieces on this CD, Berry shows that he can definitely join the ranks of Mirror, Ora, Monos and Coleclough. I guess it's something in the UK air that these people breath that makes them produce such wonderful, beautiful music." Now its re-issued, remastered in 2009, along with a bonus disc that has no relation with the bonus disc of slightly the same name out out by Twenty Hertz - to confuse matters a little bit more. There is very little to add here, except perhaps that I am a bit surprised now that this album has multiple tracks, instead of a few longer ones, which is more common in this scene (or perhaps as shown on the bonus disc, with its two longer pieces of even more minimal drone material), and the variation of sound sources used, including field recordings and the crackling of vinyl. Still after all these years an excellent release. And with the small body of work produced by Berry, this is something to cherish.
From the brothers Davin and Kevin Chong I reviewed a CD on Infraction Records (see Vital Weekly 596), when they were called Northern. When they meet up with Joseph Edward they call them Willamette and produce a variation of the music as Northern. Absent here are any connections to the world of rhythm, all in favor of more abstract sound, using tape manipulations, voices and perhaps any kind of guitar with any type of device to alter that sound, or even the sparse use of a violin on the b-side. Here too we deal with slightly shorter pieces than is normally the case in this kind of music, but it doesn't always work too well. This music needs time to expand, I think, so a track could easily last between seven to ten minutes and still be interesting. To draw lines would mean to say that there is some resemblance with Stars Of The Lid, in that both use that pastoral swelling and decaying of guitar sounds, crackling of tape hiss and extensive use of reverb, which is done actually in a great way. Very spacious and atmospheric, this is some excellent drone music. Nothing new, just building on a large tradition. Lovely white vinyl and great gate fold cover. Beauty is a rarity sometimes. (FdW) Address:


Now this was reviewed not so long ago, even when the music is much older. In Vital Weekly 699 we discussed a CDR version of this released by Scott Foust's Lessons About History. The Pickle Factory no longer exist! I wrote in Vital back then: "There have been an album and a CD, and 'Our Anthem', recorded in 1996 was supposed to be the second LP. The Pickle Factory we find Karla Borecky (keyboard, voice, tapes, synth), Scott Foust (guitar, synth, tapes, voice, radio, bass) and Mike Popvich (bass, voice, drums, percussion, radio, guitar, keyboard). Idea Fire Company plus a guest? Hardly. In all the various bands Foust is (or was) involved in, there is always a distinct sound of its own. The Pickle Factory might be called 'popmusic': rhythm machines, a nice bass line and additional sounds to go along in order to form a short song, rounded off like a song, as opposed to a 'piece'. True, also The Pickle Factory can play a bit of droney mood music, but not with the long curves as is usually with Idea Fire Company. A damn fine varied record of experimental music. Which brings up the question: why wasn't this excellent record never properly released on a LP?" That answer can not be given, as there is so much great music out there which is never properly released in any format, but the good news is that 'Our Anthems' is now released by Germany's Twisted Knister (best known from their business card CDR releases in cigarette boxes) and quite rightly so. Even after fifteen years this remains great music. It sounds as fresh as it was back then, and so we can still wonder: why wasn't this properly released on a LP before, say in 1997? Thank god for fine small labels like Twisted Knister and their persistence to release such fine music. (FdW)


JULIE MITTENS - RECORDED 23/24072011 (LP, private)
Now here's a band which I only heard of by name, but never actually heard, at least I think so. Perhaps it was mostly mentioned to me by Martin Luiten, the very same Dear Listener, member of Uw Hypotheekadvies and Pick-up, who is also a hired hand in producing records from bands like The Titmachine, and other luminaries from the world of noise rock. This is where we find Julie Mittens also at: rock, noise and improvisations, all neatly captured by the various microphones of Luiten. Now this is all pretty heavy noise/rock/free improvisation - a long howl from beginning to end of sustaining feedback sounds, free drumming and a steady bass. Although perhaps not entirely my cup of tea, I thought there was something quite captivating about this. The sheer intensity of it all made this a very fine record. An ear cleansing item. Loud, energetic and intense. (FdW) Address:


DOC WOR MIRRAN - RETCH (CDR by Miss Management)
Without knowing all 111 records by Doc Wor Mirran I can say I am a bit of fan, and that's not necessarily because I like all their music (or at least all that I heard). It was they share, for me at least, with the music of Conrad Schnitzler, Brian Eno and John Cage: its also the attitude that makes it interesting. Doc Wor Mirran can play, seemingly, almost any style in music, from rock to ambient, synthesizer to punk. You never know what to expect. Since some time they have CDR releases that cost nothing - Pay No More Than $0.00 it says on the covers of the releases on their Miss Management imprint (part of they Empty Records imperium) - which makes it more 'punk' than much else. Here are releases #110 and #111. 'Retch' is a collection of instrumental outtakes and spare tracks. It includes a few tracks recorded as the start for a never finished collaboration with Motorpsycho. Its not easy to put them in a category, never will be I guess, but here its difficult. 'Retch' has eleven pieces of instrumental guitar pieces, along with drum computers, synthesizers and a bit of saxophone (which I didn't particular care, but luckily its not in all the pieces), that sound quirky, up tempo most of the times and occasionally very good, or at its best, the very nice start of what could have been a great new song. Some of these stay a bit too much in the embryonic stage too much, like a mere idea for a song, but that's where we have CDRs for: to offer some insight in the working methods of bands.
'Do Quermi Ran' is sold to us as 'new studio album', with the Mirrans as a quartet (Stefan Schweiger, Ralf Lexis, Alex Kammerer and founding member Joseph B. Raimund), and one of the first times the band recorded with a real drummer, Schweiger. They call themselves an 'improvised garage sound that defies all categorization, which runs the whole spectrum from spaced out psychedelic rock to loud industrial influenced noise rock'. Perhaps that last thing is a bit over the top, as I didn't hear such rock/noise music, but there is plenty of spacious jamming around here, loosely improvised around certain themes of just going crazy over a set of ideas, or even one idea. The whole notion of improvised rock music plays an important role in this release (which is partly dedicated to Zoogz Rift, and I can see where that comes from), say Zappa, Beefheart and all that kind of stuff, but then all instrumental. Fuzzy guitar sounds, nice bass and drum backing and some keyboards here and there. Not entirely my cup of tea, but quite entertaining. I must admit that if I hadn't known it was Doc Wor Mirran, I would have probably passed this on Dolf Mulder. But its also the fine power of Doc Wor Mirran - the power of surprise, like always. (FdW)


Perhaps I missed out on a few of those lovely 3"CDR releases by The Dear Listeners, who are now up to number eleven according to the cover of 'Orgone In Vacuum'. This thirteen minute was recorded last year in Utrecht, during a short concert and edited and mixed earlier this year. This duo of Robert Deters (erstwhile of Vance Orchestra and collaborator with Rutger Zuydervelt) and Martin Luiten (of Girlfriends, Uw Hypotheekadvies, Pick-Up, Hitmachine) are in search of the unknown, and create soundtracks for non existing films. They do this through improvisation, using a variety of old records, field recordings, electronics, electro-acoustic objects and looping and sampling thereof. Although improvised this concert sounds very concentrated and closely linked. No sudden outbursts, but a highly concentrated field of sound, in which every now and then new elements pop in and out - like synthesizer bits, a voice, a spin of the record, all held together with the continuous drones in the background. Only a few bit, around the four to six minute break sound a bit more improvised, using contact microphones and bell like sounds, but here too a drone is already present. An excellent piece! As said a highly concentrated affair and easily one of their best pieces so far. (FdW) Address:


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