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Vital Weekly 813

img  Tobias Fischer

In 2005 Belgium's S-Virus, who did techno, underground, acid, industrial DJ-ing since 1994, changed his name to Neptunian8, in order to expand his horizon, adding influences from the world of electronica, IDM, ambient, illbient, XP and nu-jazz to his roster. He did various soundtracks for movies and only now releases his first solo CD. The semantics of all these musical genres aside, which I never can figure out anyway what the exact differences are anyway, I think we have here a nicely varied CD of electronic music. At times dark and haunting, like the soundtrack to an industrial nightmare, followed by the nice tinkle on the piano, only to be followed by those illbient/trip hop like rhythms. Indeed music with quite a cinematographic character; its not difficult to hear why music like this can be used narrative films. Think Armageddon, aliens, space ships and horror movies - anything as long as its not very abstract. I am not really the kind of guy for this kind of music, perhaps because I like music to be more abstract and illbient/triphop/downtempo is not a field in which I am some sort of an expert, but this all seems to be made with great style and effort, with lots of care for the smaller details through an excellent production. (FdW) Address:


POLAR CHALORS - A DAY (CD by Nature Bliss)
KUFUKI (CD by Wonder You)
Ok, so while waiting those strange days between christmas and new year, when one doesn't get a lot of mail, have time to clean up, read another book and wonder about this weird lot. First there is the duo called Polar Chalors, which is Hata ('from the renown psychedelic jam band Dachambo) and saxophone player Sinsuke Fujieda. This week saw some saxophone induced releases and all of these players play in a way which I don't like very much, but from all of them this is the one that I like most. The label announces this as 'dance, ambient' and 'A Day' is about a day in Tokyo, hectic metropole. The saxophone comes with a fair amount of reverb attached to it to make more spacious. Fujieda plays vaguely jazz like tunes, while Hata adds a bunch of electronics (samples, synthesizers, rhythms) to back it up. Their playing together seems to be made from jamming together, let those machines run free and that saxophone (which sometimes sound like flute, such as in 'Zen') blear away. When a beat is added, it becomes like ambient house - which revival is still lurking around the corner. But then this is also a bit more than a chill out record. Its improvised, its psychedelic and its spacious. Its actually a crazy record that is beyond any definition. And I think I might like it.
On the release by Kufuki we find a remix by Neil Campbell, these days best known as Astral Social Club (and before as Vibractahedral Orchestra and Sunroof), who is a big fan of Kufuki. And its not difficult to see why. This trio of Konno (electronics), Saito (analog synthesizer) and Tosimasa (vocals) play music that is not dissimilar to Astral Social Club. Beat like material, filled from top to bottom with sound, piercing electronics, psychedelic jamming, but Kufuki aren't mere copyists. Their use of vocals (with vocoder!), more distinctive bass sounds and occasionally a real song, such as 'Hong Kong Yakisoba'. The rhythms are from time to time borrowed from the world of ethnic music, sometimes house like and even rock like. This music has a raw character, certainly through the use of analogue synthesizers, but there is also an odd sense of poppiness about this. I can imagine this being a great live band in a sweaty packed club when they are playing these piece is an endless mix to a cheery audience, so leaving out to spoken word bits that fans around mailed them. Those are nice but interrupt too much. More craziness for strange days. (FdW)


Two very different release from two Dutch ‘jazz’ ladies, who have made their marks in the dutch jazz-impro world in the last decades. Henneman moves more towards composed chamber music territories, whereas Binsbergen feels at home in grooving and funky context. Henneman came on the scene in the 80s with all-women band FC Gerania. Gradually she developed herself as a self-taught composer for orchestra, ensembles and soloists. As a performer (viola) she makes part of IG Henneman Sextet, Duo Baars-Henneman and the Queen Mab Trio. In these combinations there is also room for improvisation. Her new cd ‘Cut a paper’ has compositions by Henneman as is indicated. Performed by her partner Ab Baars (sax, clarinet, shakuhachi), Wilbert de Joode (bass) plus Marilyn Lerner (piano), Lori Freedman (clarinets) and Axel Dörner (trumpet). Henneman herself plays viola. With Henneman Sextet she is an essential part of the typical dutch improv scene that moved more towards composed music in the last years. Also typical for this is her style of composing (and improvising), citing and playing with known idiom and tunes, etc. Adding irony and humor to the music, like in the opening piece ‘Moot’ that has an quote from a Santa-Claus song. Also it is music that never stays long where it is, and never is or remains what it is on that moment. Twists, deconstructive maneuvers define the way the pieces are structured.
The music of Corrie van Binsbergen is not part of this meta-musical approach. She moves within the possibilities of a chosen idiom. She also taps from different styles, etc, but more in a cross-over way . Making her music more accessible compared to Henneman’s sextet. Binsbergen studied classical guitar and has like Henneman many experience in pop and jazz music. Both run their own label, Brokken and Wig respectively. Grote Brokken is an ensemble of twelve musicians with backgrounds in pop and jazz. The 19 titles make a very mixed bag of absurd monologues, filmmusic, rock, jazz, swing, funk, electro, pop, etc. A perfect introduction to the eclectic musical universe of van Binsbergen. All music is played with verve and enthusiasm and with Zappa-esque features. Although live and studio tracks are from different periods, the whole makes a very tide ride. Convincing and enjoying release. (Dolf Mulder)


A new release from the small but profiled Evil Rabbits label. This label was founded about five years ago by pianist Albert van Veenendaal and Meinrad Kneer as an outlet for modern jazz and improvised music. ‘Modern Primitive’, their 18th release, is a live recording from a concert in october 2010 in Bielefeld. The musicians that took part in this encounter, have a diverse background. German double bass player, composer and improviser Meinrad Kneer operates on the borders of jazz, improvised, ethnic and contemporary music. From 1995 till 1999 he studied music and double bass in the Netherlands and ever-since he is present and active in the Dutch music scene and abroad. Jeff Platz is a guitarist and composer from Boston. He began his musical career playing guitar in local punk rock bands in the late 70’s. Later he started studying and playing jazz and improvised Music. Drummer Bill Elgart is also from the States but lives and works in Austria and Germany since 1976. Played with Paul Bley, Gary Peacock in the beginning of his career. Later with Karl Berger, Dave Holland and many others. Jan Klare works as a sax player and composer since the 80s in many fields (music, theatre, dance, literature, electronics). Active in bands as The Dorf, You Are So Me, a.o. No idea if"Modern Primitive‘" was a one-off meeting. In any case the fine interactive playing by these experienced players is a joy. I’m not a connoisseur of  improvised music. But often I had to think of  Ornette Coleman. Different soloing musicians at the same time weave a complex whole. Nice trip divided in nine improvisations. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


"Next to Keith Berry another promising new name in the world of drone music", I wrote back in Vital Weekly 498 on the first release by Joda Clement, but then he went quiet, not releasing anymore until now, 'The Narrows' (aside from his Cherry Beach duo - see Vital Weekly 560). Some people release a lot, and very few don't. This new album is inspired by sounds from his childhood on a remote farm in Canada, where the electricity came from a generator 400 feet away, and later on his father took him on field recording trips (why never work on music together?), resulting in a whole library of sound sources which he no longer remembered where they came from, sounding like that old sound generator. So what did six years of silence deliver? His first CD reminded me of Monos, Ora and Mirror, which are of course mighty fine references, but this new work doesn't make me think otherwise. Its still very much a work of drone music. Clement does a great job, and you can hear the work shifting through lots of smaller, detailed sounds, with quick moves from sound to another. That perhaps is the aspect that makes this album a bit different than those other three  bands do. If you play this with headphones you will be noticing the details much better, but in general I'd like to use speakers. I am not entirely sure about this album but by and large this seems to me 'another' work of field recordings melting into drone music. Good, fine and a crowded area of composers. (FdW) Address:


About a year ago Drone Records released their final 7", the 100th one and a great series ended. Now, perhaps 7" is not really the right format for drone music, too limited and not too convenient. Maybe a CD would be better, but Drone Records simply love vinyl, so they choose the LP to be the new format for sharing the love of drone music. Each LP will have four artists, and each will feature a painting by Pete Greening. "The title symbolizes the interaction between sound of the Eternal and our psyche and raises questions: Can drones (or sound per se) be regarded as 'intelligent'? Does every mind produce a Drone? Isn't it possible that any organic or non-organic entity produces a Drone? Drone Music is seen as more than a mere 'music style', it expresses an approach to perceive & understand the world. DRONE-MIND and MIND-DRONE build a circle of diverse inter-relations. The Drone as a metaphor for everything that vibrates, that releases energy - from atoms and elementary particles to the hum of the earth and the universe. The Drone as an entity that connects everything that exists within our own "mind-space", perception and self." A bit of a long quote, but for the next releases I merely have to refer to this review. Interesting questions, but hardly 'open' ones as Drone Records give the answers themselves. Of the four artists only Halo Manash is a new name for me. They are from Finland and produce sounds on ethnic instruments which they record on analogue reel-to-reel tape - which is usually something that doesn't impress me much (just as 'no editing', 'no overdubs', 'no samplers', 'no synthesizers' (hello Queen) was equally unimportant). Its the outcome that counts. Halo Manash have a vague tribal ethnic feeling in their slow percussive piece, that may spell out 'magick' (another word I don't like), but I'd give them the benefit of doubt. Its a nice piece. On the same side, opening up, is from Spain Ubeboet, who has two shorter pieces dealing with vocal material. No doubt either lifted from a religious recording or taped in a church, and then processed. Here too we have the idea that its a bit of cliche, but again, I'd give it the benefit - this one sounded quite nice too. Jarl from Sweden opens on the b-side and its been a long time since I heard from him, but his zither piece here sounds very nice. A multitude of improvisations on the instrument were recorded, using bows and motorized objects and bring out a singing zither piece. Just what Jarl should do. Excellent piece. B*Tong closes the record with four short pieces that are not unlike his recent 3"CDR on Attenuation Circuit (see Vital Weekly 811) and which I didn't like very much. This is more like musique concrete, sampling short bits of sound and making sound collages out of them. This is done by other people much better. I wish B*Tong stayed closer to his original drone beginnings: that would not have been out of place here. 3/4 of this is a great record, 1/4 is ok. Not a bad score for a compilation. (FdW)


INVERZ - MY MACHINES (LP by Granny Records)
'My Machines' is the fourth release by Savvas Metaxas also known as Inverz and I believe the first on LP for him. I reviewed two of three previous releases, which seemed to be dwelling heavily on processed guitar, but according to the information this new record 'focuses on the collection, process and reproduction of old vinyl record which are then combined with sound samples from musical and non-musical sources' - but I wouldn't be too surprised to know if he'd thrown some more guitar and sound effects too. Compared to his previous record 'Songs' (see Vital Weekly 639), this new one seems a bit more densely orchestrated, resulting in soundscape like music of a darker nature. Now the fact that I think its not all from old vinyl is in a track like 'About Closure', which has a looped guitar, a bend violin and crackles from vinyl (which sometimes are a lot, so that one isn't sure if this is from the pressing or the actual music - nice!). But yes, throughout there seems to be indeed various bits from old vinyl being used. Unlike Daniel Padden's recent LP which went in a similar direction, Inverz uses a more abstract form on his music, given away less from the original than Padden and despite the some over active use of reverb delivers a highly enjoyable record. Inverz' music has grown from the previous one, in which he was too much of one of the drone guys, and now he has expanded his drones into a bit wider field of musique concrete like sounds. Throughout that works pretty well. The way to go, I'd say. (FdW) Address:


Now here is one of those names which I remember seeing in the past, and even have a couple of pieces on that Bain Total compilation LP (from 1980), but honestly don't remember, nor having heard any of their other work. I do remember they released two flexi discs, which I thought was cool. I am quite surprised to see they are still around and apparently they never stopped. This seventh installment of split LPs by Mama Baer and Kommissar Hjuler has five pieces by them, from 1994 to 2005. Bomis Prendin sound very much like boys who never grew up. If you are old enough to remember the late 70s/early 80s were a fertile ground for experimenting with sound, usually from a rock context. Armed with guitars, bass, drums, keyboards but also toys and loose circuits they create what was then called 'no wave', and after thirty years Bomis Prendin still manages to create the same kind of music, like they never learned a bit on their guitar, or notions about melody, rhythm, timbre. A very free sound - the real anybody can do this. I have no idea if these tracks are very representative of the old sound, but somehow I think they do. In their most recent piece they sound suddenly strangely coherent - hammering away in free rock mode. I was playing some old Metabolist record the other day, and this came close to that. Excellent (re-)discovery.
On the other side we have Mama Baer, solo this time. Her work, either solo or Der Kommissar, always leaves me puzzling, to say the least. They seem to be operating very much on the outside of the musical spectrum, with what seems at times therapeutic music. Here however there is one piece that covers the entire side of the record of tape (reel-to-reel) manipulations which sound like an older Nurse With Wound record of manipulated voice (pitched up high) and a woman moaning, far away percussion and microphone abuse. Excellent piece all around. Very thoughtful, so these people aren't that crazy I thought.
Although it doesn't say anywhere on the beautiful picture disc, the 7" is a three way collaboration between Mama, Hjuler and The New Blockaders. A fine pairing I'd say. The squeaking metallic sound of the Blockaders with the crazy voices of Baer and Hjuler, along with some unclear tape manipulations make up to fierce statements of noise. And with such time restrictions, I'd think this is spot on. I have no idea why there is absolutely no information on the record itself or on the nicely printed insert. I assume its not shyness, if you care to create such a racket. (FdW)


In the Insane Music family of bands I rank Pseudo Code to be my absolute favorite band, next to Human Flesh and Cortex (obviously). Its not easy to say what I like about Pseudo Code, but its probably that fine combination of electronic music, experiment and still, at times, a song like structure. Its one of those bands I wouldn't have minded in releasing a multiple CD box myself with their complete works. Yet some of that has recently come to light, such as the re-issue of the LP 'Europa' on CD, which also included their first two 7"s, from 1980 and 1981. Now, thirty years later its time for their third 7", aptly called 'The Third EP', and many thanks to the continuing efforts of EE Tapes to release music from Insane Music bands. Pseudo Code play emotional music. Held together by the simple tick of a rhythm machine, synthesizer and organ (all played by Alain Neffe), the pianet of Guy Marc Hinant and the howling high voice of Xavier S, they go through all emotions, from the almost happy 'Can I Kiss You' to the sad faraway version 'Far Away From My Own Land' (also in a different version on their first 7"), or the mellow 'Baby Burn Out'. 'Dance, Dance On The Radio' we may see as a short tribute to Joy Division's 'Transmission', in a one minute and five seconds summing it up. Now, we don't get Peter Hook to do that, are we? Excellent 7". Is there, still, more Pseudo Code? (FdW) Address:


LEE NOYES - XIAZHI (CDR by Ideal State Recordings)
AND/ALSO - LIKE ALSO AND ANY (CDR by Ideal State Recordings)
Percussionist Lee Noyes is originally from New Zealand, but moved his trade and business - Ideal State Recordings is his own label to Sweden. He plays on all three of these new releases. On 'Xiazhi' he plays his own brand of feedback electronics. He does that in three pieces, lasting 9, 19 and 29 minutes. If I would be cynical, I could say that once all the silence is cut out, we may have 30 minutes left. Indeed a CD with lots of silence between isolated 'outbursts' of some kind. Especially in the third piece it takes a while before sound is continuos. But I am not cynical (skeptical at times) and while I like some of this, I think the time of long silences, as outlined by many Japanese musicians - say Taku Sugimoto - is a bit behind us. Probably very zen and all that, but I like to hear music, not the beating of my own heart. But as said, when Noyes, is doing something, be it very soft, this is quite nice. This is one to crank up the volume quite a bit and it makes more sense: a whole world opens up and it turns out there is quite a bit of beauty in there.
Behind Radio Cegeste there is one Sally Ann McIntyre, who has a mini FM radio station of the same name, which she uses to perform her sounds from the electro magnetic spectrum, including morse code, shortwave and theremin. The four pieces she performed with Noyes were captured on a hilltop and include not only the sounds they produced (empty sampler, mixer, broken accordion), but also the interference from the radio's mixed in, as well the one used to transmits this and sounds surrounding the area. I wouldn't have minded seeing this also, as well as hearing it. But, alright, we have to settle for just the audio, which is quite nice actually. These improvisations seem a bit unfocussed - but maybe I have that romantic notion of two persons on a hill, with all things battery operated, improvising along with the elements. There are quiet moments here too, but throughout the sound is quite audible, even noisy at times. Atmospherical hissing and crackling of sounds, all becoming alive through some sparse electronic treatments. Lots of obscure sound events drop in and out and, as said, a bit unfocussed, but very nice indeed. Maybe a track too long, I thought.
With all of this we would forget that Noyes is a percussion player and he plays the kit on the disc with the duo And/also he formed with Stuart Porter, who plays saxophone. And he plays saxophone is a pretty traditional fashion, which is there where I like it least. He blows away freely, improvised, free jazz or whatever you want to call it. I think Noyes is here the more interesting player, using his kit to scrap, hit, bend with objects and bows, and in general do things other than playing a regular rhythm. I'm sure its all done very nicely, but that kind of saxophone playing gets to my nerves too much. These three discs are a farewell to Dunedin where Noyes lived up to his recent re-location to Sweden. Let's see what the new country will bring him. (FdW)


Normally Daniel W.J. Mackenzie works as Ekca Liena, of which I never heard, but its said to be 'droning guitar and electronic mesh of ambience, electronica and hints of doom'. He also a member of Plurals - whose 'Six Eyes' was reviewed in Vital Weekly 732. Under his name his music takes an entirely different course, away from drones and noise rock. He asked a whole bunch of his friends to provide him with recordings of their choice from a selection of musical pitches in various durations. These were then "arranged in the order when they were sent back and the resulting sequence was duplicated in a way that corresponded with the Fibonacci sequence". That may seem highly conceptual, and it probably is, but does it necessarily lead to good music? In this case it does. Among the listed sound sources I see bass guitar, sine wave, acoustic guitar, synth and tape, processed glockenspiel, rhodes piano, analogue synth, melodica, casio keyboard, melodica and such like. He composed seven pieces, four parts of 'N.a.c.a.l' and three parts of 'Return Written Arrange' - of which the first part is a beautiful piece of music, with that processed glockenspiel playing the main tune, in a nice Steve Reich-like manner. The other pieces don't stretch that far in the world of minimal music, and stay on ambient/drone ground. All of these pieces however seem to be dealing with loops of varying length which makes all of this cyclical in approach. I'm reminded of some of the work by Machinefabriek here or his associates like Peter Broderick, but Mackenzie does a pretty job himself. Very atmospheric music, a bit dark, a bit sombre even, especially in the long second part 'Return Written Arrange', but it certainly fits the dark season. Very nice release. (FdW)


RICHARD FRANCIS - ACID SONGS (cassette by Dungeon Taxis)
Things have been quiet - I think (I have to be careful otherwise I get another slap on the wrist) - for Richard Francis, erstwhile known as Eso Steel, but since a few years under his own guise. In the four pieces here, which are recorded at home and in concert from December 2010 to July 2011 he explores 'electrical tone, sound texture and noise' and according to the website he uses "oscillators, sine waves, spring reverb, eq filters, delay, noise, microphone, hands, paper, empty spaces, loop maker, computer", which sounds like a lot. Hard to say I heard all of that, but I must say I think this is a great tape. To me it sounds like Francis is working with the sound of tape hiss mostly, re-recorded on cassettes into various de-generations of sound, which are fed through sharp equalization, with lots of high end sounds and some great deep end bass sound on the first track of the b-side. Now, this I thought was a great release: away from the pure microsound, moving into something a bit louder, even noiser at times, with a fine combination of field recordings and electronics. Excellent release. (FdW) Address:


The complete "Vital Weekly" is available at: Vital Weekly

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