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Vital Weekly 811 + 812

img  Tobias Fischer

Slowly I am getting more and more enthusiastic about the releases on Norway's Hubro. Always from the world of improvised music, but then always with a nice angle. Here we have Erland Dahlen, a percussionist/drummer who has played with Mike Patton/Kaada, Serena Maneesh, Marit Larsen, madrugada and Nils Petter Molvaer's trio. His work can be heard on some 130 records. His drumkit here is a Slingerland Rolling Bomber, from World War Two, in which there is no metal, but rosewood. To that kit he added a lot of other instruments, such as musical saw, timpani, gongs, bow on cake form with springs, tank drums, cuica, maracas, kalimba, temple blocks, steel drum, log drum, bells, electronics. No doubt this is a work of the studio, as I can't imagine him playing all of that in one take. An excellent record. One has the impression of listening to a record of percussion sounds plus a lot of other things and not just a percussion record. The bows and electronics add nice small melodic interjections to the music. These seven pieces show an interesting variety in approaches. 'Funeral' is like an ambient piece, 'Piratmen' starts out ethnic but becomes ambient also, while the closing 'Germany' is an excellent Krautrock stampede (hence the title I'd say), including what seems a theremin, although none is listed. In other pieces he is more traditionally improvised or leans towards modern composition. A great CD, not too long, not too short. Spot on. (FdW)


Its been a long, long time since I last heard from Drog-A-Tek - Vital Weekly 504 to be precise, and shortly before that I saw the band perform live, in Athens, Greece. I could try and imagine what they did in the meantime, but apparently its all plain and simple: they went on to record and play music, and above all, record music. All documented on a double slab of vinyl, but with a free CD of the same material - or vice versa for that matter. Something to welcome, this sort of dual format - I can pick something for the podcast! Drog-A-Tek is a band with a floating membership. I saw four on stage, but sometimes they are up to nine persons - assuming this is still the case, as the cover doesn't indicate any individual members. Rhythm is still important, from a mere thumping bass, jazz like to a more hard stomping drum sound. Then there is a multitude of trumpets, guitars and organ like sounds. Recently I had a writing commission and listened to some post punk music from the 80s, reading a bit of old Vinyl magazines (the leading voice on such matters in the 80s in The Netherlands), and some of that nostalgic feeling I had when listening to this. In my judgement of their previous CD I was perhaps a bit harsh - mostly because this was a lengthy work, and this again, is a lengthy one, but somehow it worked better. There is a sheer variety in the pieces which is very nice. Its almost like listening to a compilation from the old days. A bit of jazz, a bit of noise rock, post rock, post punk and even maybe bits that are pretty much electronic, even techno-ish: its all there and its hard to believe its the same band. Still a bit long, but sitting in a comfortable chair, listening, reading those old magazines, I had this curious feel of 'then' and 'now' warping together - a time machine implodes. (FdW) Address:


The third 7" to celebrate Dead Voices On Air is one with his former compadre of Zoviet*France Robin Storey, better known these days as Rapoon, I should assume. Together they have also worked as Reformed Faction, and this 7" could have been released as such, but its part of the concept, I guess, to name their own names. I am not sure if this is on 33 or 45 rpm, but for one reason or another I assume on 33. The two pieces are closely related through their titles, and perhaps also through the music. One side is a bit more rhythmical, with a kind of mechanical loop and low distorted voice sounds coming in and taking over the scene, whereas the other side is more about ambience as a means to an end, and has wacky old reel to reel tape loops from the old days, or so it seems. Its two nice pieces, but somehow don't seem to be have made for 7": music like this, I keep stressing, is usually not fit for the format.
Especially for the season there is a blue vinyl of Little Annie (Anxiety - recently also collaborating with Coh on 7" for the same label) with Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo who is a member of Larsen (seldom reviewed in Vital Weekly) and solo known as ( r ). This 7" is part of the 'we dream in colour' series, although with a somewhat different cover. This is great music, especially 'Chinatown Blues' is an excellent piece of music: electric guitars in free play and Little Annie in great form. The b-side deconstructs the classic 'Blue Moon' and has a more mellow outing in 'The Ballad Of Blue Obsessions'. An excellent 7" for the season. (FdW) Address:


Its his main line of work, to capture Electronic Voice Phenomena: voices of ghosts. We can find Michael Esposito in graveyards and haunted houses with his tape recorder. On the cover of his flexi disc (hurrah a flexi disc, why don't we see more of those?) we have some extended liner notes, which you can't finish reading before the music is over, about the phenomena of EVP. The way I read these notes is that Esposito gave sound material to Svensson, who send it through Oscillograph Nordmende from 1958 and recorded the modulated sound along with original. Or some such. The result is a short - too short - piece of music that is actually more musical than I usually anticipate with the world of EVP. A shimmering trace of a melody shines through here. Oh why is this so short - a nightmare, on various accounts.
On the Tapeworm release Esposito uses recordings from a graveyard in Kentucky where in the late 18th century a witch was burned alive, along with her daughter. More hiss and crackling of tapes - but do we hear voices, I sometimes wonder - come along with the church bells. The whole thing has quite chilling effect on the listener and certainly is all bleak and dark. It is somewhere in the middle of a horror soundtrack and a radioplay, to be broadcasted just before the midnight hour. Sometimes things are so scary that one keeps on listening (or watching, in the case of a movie) and this is one such thing. A pleasant trip in the horror house. (FdW)


Three French artists are working with a phrase of Edgar Varese "the perverse music does not exist, because it does not talk about sex". The musicians did an investigation and use sources like Sigmund Freud and Marquis de Sade. The old mix of erotics and death has been found and is a great inspiration of artists. The three musicians have a long experience. Zreen Toys presents himself as a Sounds Sculptor and after a few years of classic training on piano and drums he starts to improvise his own music since 1970. Usher is also active since the seventies. Firstly with music like noise punk and cold wave music. Ezeckiel Wehwalt is born in the seventies and since he discovered the work of music concrete composers he starts to make music without any definition and borders. The musicians worked together and created eight tracks. The album is an electronic landscape of all kind of atmosphere with a high thrilling atmosphere. Abstract tracks with noisy echoes will be alternated by more long compositions which have elements of a song structure or repeating beats. I cannot find the deeper ideas in the album, or I had to find it a composition of Zreen Toys where a woman sigh as a porn diva? but I that will be too obvious? The release is a interesting sound-palet of a lot of different sounds with well composed electronic experimental music, which is aswell sensual as harsh and noisy. This is Acte 1 and I am curious to the upcoming actes. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


In the ongoing series of 'processed river sounds' (recorded by Cedric Peyronnet) we have here a new name, Pierre Juillard. Since I don't know anything about him, I just have to be rely on the music. The last few in this series seemed to be turning away from the pure field recordings work, this new one starts out with a collage-like form of various river sounds, before moving over into a very nicely treated electronic sound from those river recordings. Hard to say what it is that he does. Sometimes we hear bits of the original, but then inside a sort of ambient back-drop, which some might call acousmatic. Atmospheric, a bit dark, a bit moody, and something that works wonderfully well. An excellent piece, reminding me of Lionel Marchetti. So, who the hell this guy? And where can we hear some more? (FdW) Address:


DECEH - FUNDAMENTAL STRUCTURE (cassette by The Tapeworm)
BURNING TREE - STINGER (cassette by The Tapeworm)
Three entirely different cassette releases here from The Tapeworm. There are no bandmembers listed on the cover of the release by Deceh, but (internet-) belief has it that at least two members of Eleh are involved - Eleh being an influential drone company of a more mysterious kind (and seldom reviewed in these pages). Their tape is made with a Hammond organ and a sruti box, that drone instrument from India. Both sides have the same five pieces, which according to the cover are played 'with attention given to the organization of isolated frequencies and the effects of these vibrations on brain activity'. In the first piece one wouldn't say these are sounds from a Hammond organ nor struti box, but a physically loud piece of closely linked drones - trademark of Eleh. But as the tape progresses things tone down a bit more and then drones arrive which are more mellow and meditative. I am not sure if and which part of this particular brain was effected, but it surely sounded great - but me being a sucker for drone music anyway. Excellent tape.
By total contrast we have also Burning Tree, a duo of from Norway, being Dag Erik Knedal Andersen on drums and Dag Stilberg on saxophone. Normally he plays these with a whole bunch of guitar effects (in his other band Maranata), but here its all acoustic, for both of them. Total and utter free improvised music - free-jazz if you will. This tape last thirty-five minutes and this seems to me the same amount of time spend in the studio - with stuff like this there is no need for editing, dubbing or producing - this music is just being documented, 'as is'. Now you could easily wonder if this music needs to be documented at all, or wether its the live element that should count only. Obviously I don't agree - I think it should be, and when recorded under fine conditions: why not. This reminded me of an old Dutch band, Der Junge Hund, whose first LP lasted thirty-five minutes and they didn't spend more time in the studio. Ear blasting, chaotic, wild, lovely.
The third side of the medallion, should it have one, is the music of Peter Hope-Evans. In the seventies he was a member of Medicine Head and as such darlings of the late John Peel, even recording for his Dandelion label, but these days he is stuck on a houseboat with his collection of jew harps, mouth organ, bells and his own voice, plus Baby Taylor occasionally on guitar. The walkman with a recording possibility is set up and Hope-Evans plays his music - I assume blues like, if I was someone who knows these sort of things (if only!) - but even more sparse, to the bare chilling bone. Hope-Evans doesn't have the right sort of voice for it, being a bit unstable but perhaps that is part of the aesthetic of this? A most curious item, one of those where you could think someone is playing a joke on the listener. Just that thought made me smile. After Burning Tree a breath of fresh air. (FdW)


If you want to know what happened on november 6, 2009 at the Experimental Sound Gallery in Saint Petersburg, Russia, listen to this one. An international ensemble of improvisors was on stage for an unique improvised concert. Let me introduce them. Ilia Belorukov (alto sax, objects) is a musician from Saint-Petersburg. Operating in the fields of  free improvisation, noise and electroacoustic music. He is also owner of the new Intonema label that released this concert. Alexey Lapin (upright piano), a pianist, composer and sound engineer is also from Saint-Petersburg. He has some work released on Leo and Red Toucan. Edyta Fil (flute) is from Warsaw. Here and in Strasbourg she studied flue and chamber ensemble. Although educated in classical music she is also  into improvised music. The same for Juho Laitinen (cello, voice)  from Finland. He is a cellist, specialized in 20th century composed music, mainstream and avant garde jazz, fado, improviser, composer, writer and teacher. In fact we are talking of two different smaller collaborations, that decided impulsively to play together for this occasion. This was done from a right intuition, as this led to some very satisfying improvisations. The classical trained voice of veteran Buckner is patching the way in most improvisations. The gradually unfolding improvisations are dominated by modern classical esthetics, which is often the case when Buckner is part of the game. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


Ronny Waernes is back at Go To Gate Records. In Vital 777 I reviewed the great album Tendentious D. This album is totally different and for now he searched and found the collaboration with Kjetil Hanssen. Hanssen has been very active in the noise scene from Oslo. The two Norwegian musicians did their first live performance in 2009, which resulted in the album Sound of Mu, which released immediately after the show. Now two years later they created their first studio work and it is massive. Fifty minutes full of guitar and electronic driven soundscapes with a lot of feedback, distorted guitar and acoustic and electronic generated sounds. The combination of guitar sounds and electronics fits really well. Sometimes it is just noise and feedback and at the other hand long layers of distorted sounds create a wall of sound with deeper layers and subtile rhythms far away hidden. The titles of the tracks are serious and have a lot of to do with eastern philosophy. I do not know if you can find 'the Inner Silence of Empty Space' because this album is overwhelming. Anyhow - if you like noise in a creative way, than this album is worth listening! (Jan-Kees Helms)


More music by Gianluca Becuzzi (see Vital Weekly 810 for his previous release), and another one that doesn't reveal much in terms of information. Just a titles and the year it was produced. Its however some kind of concept album. The opening and closing tracks are 2:33 each, while the three tracks in the middle last 12:48. Also from the titles there are similarities: 'Culture vs Nature', 'Nature vs Culture', two parts of 'The Essential Nowhere' and 'Rings Of Time'. Probably that should give the listener enough clues - although I am not entirely sure. Becuzzi uses again quite an amount of field recordings and electronic processing thereof. We hear walking in a room, rain - with loops of percussive sound in 'The Essential Nowhere [a]', and lots of electronics coming into the scenery. Sometimes resulting in a full on electronic sound, but at other times quite sparse, such in the opening minutes of 'Rings Of Time', but it seems always that force takes over. For one reason or another I think this album has also a bit more instruments in play, although I couldn't figure which they are, since they too seem to be covered with sound effects, but taken from a multitude of improvisations. Most likely they are guitars, bass and other things with strings. It makes a crowded scene at times, but this CD is even better than that previous one. One that easily grows and one gets attached too. Great textured music, growing away from the known field of processed field recordings into a more psychedelic field of… well, why not… popmusic even (glockenspiel in 'The Essential Nature [b]'!). Excellent CD! (FdW)


In the early days of 2011Korean musicians were busy working in Amsterdam, in Steim to be precise: Ryu Hankil (typewriter, snare drum), Hong Chulki (turntable) and Choi Joonyong (CD player). The latter wrote about inferior and superior sounds as 'not all sounds equal to us' and 'every person must have a criterion but a particular standard seems to have become universal and fixed'. This is a work of improvisation and if you remember, I pretty much like all of their previous work. At times a bit noisy, usually with a conceptual edge to it and freely improvising with the limitations of an instrument they choose. The two pieces here seem two straight forward documentations of a session in which they improvise on their instruments. The downside is that there are not many differences in approach here. They play in both pieces more or less a similar way. Scratching objects, plucking the typerwriter or the surface of the snare drum, manipulating the turntable and the CD player, occasionally typing a real letter. All of it is quite nice, but one piece of thirty minutes would have proven as much as two tracks. I think with some more rigorous editing both pieces could have been combined into one, simply by superimposing them and then mixing them together. I think it would have an equally strong point. Not to be played in one go, but one at a time is quite nice. (FdW) Address:


Its great that the label forwarded some information on this beforehand so I know more about it, because if I would have to by the package I would be entirely in the dark. Stories are printed in Greek and English from Leif Elggren and Spyros Fengos and with an eagle's eye you may find some more relevant information. So apparently this is the second issue in weird fairytales (the first one was the 7" by Howard Stelzer/Frans de Waard - see Vital Weekly 764).  There is one side of just music and one just of spoken word. Maybe you have to get two copies and play them at the same time, I wondered. So we have, in one form or another, "michel doneda (france), leif elggren (sweden), sonic catering band (uk), if,bwana (usa), geoff dugan (usa), vague (switzerland) & from greece, sokrates martinis, spyros fengos, dimitri karageorgos, nikos kyriazopoulos, adam_is". This is a most strange record. The stories are not always easy to understand and sometimes create more atmosphere than information. The music side seems to be dealing with field recordings of bird sounds, perhaps slightly processed, maybe not. As said this is quite a strange LP, one of those things that will probably disappear over time and then return as a weirdo classic from the early years of the new millenium. Although these fairytales are for children, I doubt it will go down well with children. But who knows? Some say they are more open-minded than adults. (FdW) Address:


On the backside of this LP you can read: 'you have the choice to consult or not some extra information on the insert. This information would influence they way you are experiencing the sounds. No comprehension whatsoever is required to access this work'. Which is actually something I like. You can choose to take in the information, or not. The information on the insert is printed in mirrored writing, so I am sure if its not really necessary to read it anyway. For the reviewer there is of course a small summary on the press text, and I learn that the sound sources are from the Boto, the Amazon River Dolphin or Pink Dolphin (making it one of the first records on ini.itu to move away from the Indonesian context that the previous records have). This record is another fascinating look in the world of Slawek Kwi, the man behind Artificial Memory Trace. Much of his work sounds like a collage of sounds, long moves and some abrupt changes. None of that on this record. The sounds are just in long moves, and it seems a bit silent - of course that is intentional. I have no idea how the Boto sounds in the natural environment, nor any clue of the kind of processing applied by Kwi here, and oddly enough the music here sounds like insects, cicadas, chirping at night. A very meditative work, ambient if you will, slowly moving around, revealing some of its beauty only if you turn up the volume a bit more. Maybe also a strange record, for both Artificial Memory Trace and maybe also for the label. In a way I am reminded of the excellent record by Francisco Lopez for the same label. Quite mysterious, but a very good one. One of things were you keep wondering. (FdW)


Last year I saw Chris Imler play live an outdoor concert and was told that the next day he would be recording with producer Martin Luiten (who recently did the Julie Mittens record also), but it took some time to release it. Imler is a member of Spankings, Golden Showers, Driver & Driver (a duo with Patric Catani) and plays drums on bunch of other people's records. In his solo music he is an electro-punk pur sang. Banging motorik rhythms, trigging sequencers at the same time, he's a one man Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft. Banging a marching rhythm in 'Vorwarts' or taking on Chris Montez' 'Let's Dance' on the other side - which I remember best for the version by The Silicon Teens. Imler doesn't have the best of voices, but the energy of the music makes well up for it. Very much a record of Neue Deutsche Welle. This year no christmas 7" for Meeuw Muzak, but this one is certainly an excellent Meeuw 7", that one doesn't need to miss out on the christmas 7" at all. (FdW)


TOM FAZZINI - ARMS IN SEMAPHORE (CDR by Loophamystery Records)
Two weeks ago I reviewed a very short 7" by Tom Fazzini, and due to the briefness it was hard to get a clear picture of what the man does. My question was heard and Fazzini mailed his recently released CDR 'Arms In Sempahore'. This album was already recorded in 2007-2008 with a possible release on Locust Music looming, but the label apparently no longer exists, so now it found its way to CDR format. Fazzini was once a member of A Small Good Thing, that nice ambient off-shoot of O Yuki Conjugate with slide guitar as a main attraction, but in his solo work none such is heard and the music has shifted to singer songwriter like material. Fazzini sings ('layrinx'), plays guitar, keyboards, xylophone, melodica and adds a little bit of effects, plus there is a whole bunch of guest players on violin, bagpipes, cello, snare and bass. Intimate music at work here and less 'complex' than the more recent 7"; these are all pretty much straight popsongs. Fazzini doesn't quite have the voice of say Nick Drake, but it shares the same sense of intimacy and folk like ness - that is until things explode a bit in 'O4'. There are more of these small weird moments of small voice manipulations, such as in 'Spirit Takes A Walk', or the dictaphone in 'Creaky'. Avant folk perhaps? This is a release that would have not been out of place on Static Caravan, I should think. Very gentle music for the time of the year. (FdW)
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886VG & EYE - ABISMO (CDR by No Brain Productions)
886VG is a harsh noise project of Iganacio Ruz from Chili. This musician has a few projects and releases his work with his own DIY projects. Guido Flichman of EYE from Argentina visited him in 2010 and they created a composition of 42 minutes. The music starts drony with some cracking noisy layers. Slowly synthesizers drones inter fade and make the track more quiet and quiet to almost silence. But the noises and harsh sound come back and destruct the silence atmosphere and built up a classic blast of sound with high frequencies bleeps and suddenly it stopped. Sounds like a machine will take it over. But not for long. The noise will come back with more rage than ever. My head explodes by the heavy pure sounds and I cannot think about nothing than how to deal with these sounds. This CD is really amazing. Noise, silence, drones and pure sounds will come without mercy and surprise the listener. One of the best noise CDs of this year, because of it purity and creative use of sound and atmosphere. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


Long time ago I have seen the movie Blue of Derek Jarman. A blue screen fills the movie theater and did not change. The only thing what changed was the soundtrack, which tells about how Derek Jarman deals with HIV and AIDS. The movie made a great impact of me, because blue was the last color the moviemaker has seen. Mount Tunnel is a dark movie for the inner eye. The only thing what I have seen is a grey screen, nothing dark at all. I do not know if something has gone wrong with the VHS tape. If the soundtrack has to lead me to the inner eye, that is really difficult, because the soundtrack has so many feedback tones in different shapes that is hardly to fade away into the inner self. Loty Negarti and Andrea-Jane Cornell improvised at CKUT in Montreal at 1 September 2011. The improvisation starts with some tones and micro-electronic sounds and the musicians flow from one sound to another. They develop the sounds slowly, what creates an intense atmosphere as well an annoying atmosphere. The feedback tones and frequencies are sometimes very harsh and straight in the head that it is hardly to bear. If you like experiments like this, this VHS tape is really something for you. Anyhow - the venue where the improvisation had been played is very interesting. CKUT is a non-profit, member owned and operated licensed FM radio station. You can find CKUT 90.3FM at The aim of the station is to provide a voice for the voiceless and give spaces to lots of musicians with different backgrounds. This kind of free spaces, make this world much nicer. (Jan-Kees Helms)


MIGUEL A. GARCIA & TOMAS GRIS (cassette by Crustaves Tapes)
Some weeks ago I did some research on the ancient history of independent cassette releases in The Netherlands and stumbled on Frietes Records who had an 'exchange' cassette project. Send me one of your tapes and you'll get one from me. Crustaces Tapes from from Montreal works along similar lines: 'to receive a tape send a postcard or gift'. There has been a release by John Brennan and Ann-F Jacques, and the second is by one Tomas Gris and Miguel A. Garcia. A short tape, maybe ten minutes of improvised music, which sounds all acoustic to my ears. Maybe a bit short to leave a solid impression, I thought, but hey: the idea behind such a release is quite nice. Now we may need for some concentrated effort in the music, which I doubt will be easy since the 'free' nature of the project. Unless that's the idea of course. (FdW)


AKI ONDA - DIARY (cassette plus book by Unframed Recordings)
For somebody who works extensively with cassettes as his primary instrument, its perhaps a bit of surprise that he doesn't release his results on the same medium. Aki Onda more or less by accident stumbled on the cassette as an instrument in 1988 and since then tapes whatever sounds he hears and finds interesting. In a concert situation he opens up his case of tapes and selects a few which he mixes on the spot, using a bit of electronics and an old fashioned guitar and bass amplifier. That results in a fascinating sound field. A look on his table will open your eyes for the old fashioned way of working with tapes and the small book that comes with this cassette here, shows them, with Onda's handwriting on it. A fine picture book. The cassette is along similar lines. Not a composed work, a mix or live recording, but two plain recordings as made by Aki Onda. One side recorded at day in Celestun and one at night in Trouville - both seems to be sea-shores. Calm relaxing field recordings, in which not a lot is happening, but it has a nice atmosphere - maybe of sunshine and holiday; much needed in the time of the year. A fine small art edition. (FdW)


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