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Vital Weekly 815

img  Tobias Fischer

A man who heads his own ensemble, studied composition (and still does), performs with Kirtan Choir, Weathes/Glover and Tethers and in the past with Acid Of All Ruins, Bicameral Mind, Northern Valentine, Tatsuya Nakatani, Laurent Estopy and Hal McGee - and that's the first name I recognize here. Andrew Weathers seems like a busy man. So far I heard his two releases with CJ Boyd, where they give each other instructions on what to play, like 'At least one song must contain no "instruments" (i.e. anything created for making music)'. This might be the first time I hear his solo work. This work is all about the guitar, at least if I have to believe the press text. Weathers mentions finger-picking and name drops John Fahey, Robbie Basho and Henry Flynt, but to me it sounds more like Alvin Lucier. The title piece lasts just over forty-five minutes (the other two 1'39 and 9'09) and it easily lasts twenty or so minutes of sustaining tones, before we even hear something that may resemble a finger pick. I didn't count, but there might have been very few. For the most part this piece consists of sine wave like sounds, but gently flowing into your space. Very much like any beautiful Lucier piece, I'd say. The second longest piece is a mere sample fragment on repeat. Also soft, sounding like a field recording (or with one?), this is nice, and the straight finger picking piece that opens the CD is also nice, but without these two pieces this CD would have been equally strong, certainly musically, but even more conceptually.  But this is not meant as a complaint: this is a great CD! (FdW)


Someone recently pointed me to Rameses III, of whom I had vaguely heard but probably never properly. This band is from the South of London and have had releases on Type, Important, Digitalis and Under The Spire, as well as playing shows with Stars Of The Lid, Current 93, Murcof, Fursaxa, James Blackshaw, Yellow Swans and Astral Social Club. Maybe that gives you a sense of direction for this band. And thus, perhaps, also for Daniel Thomas Freeman, a founding (and current) member of the group for his solo music. But for me this is a wholly new introduction. Its not, perhaps, what I would expect from a label like Home Normal, which I associate with more lighter forms of ambient. The music of Freeman is all a bit darker than usual, and perhaps also much more dense, save for the closing piece 'Staring Into The Light'.  The work has seven tracks, divided over three parts, each with its own characteristics. There is quite an amount of field recordings to be spotted here, from street level to sky high, and instrument wise, best recognized is the violin in'The Might Of Angels' and 'Elegy And Rapture (For Margaret)'. For the main part however I think we're dealing here with lots of processed guitars, sound effects and sampling, such as the percussion in the title piece. Apparently the music was made during a period of deep depression and recovery - in chronological order on the CD - which may account for the dark mood, especially in the longest - twenty-five minutes - piece here 'Staring Into Black Water', which sound like a self-explanatory title. Although I quite enjoyed this release, I think that seventy-two minutes of it is a bit too long. This could have as easily one hour and carry the same effect. But perhaps I am not as depressed to fully enjoy such a scheme? For those who love the noir side of field recordings and ambient, this is surely a great album. (FdW) Address:


LARKIAN & YELLOW6 - OFFTEMPO (CD by Three:Four Records)
Two releases from what 'us' reviewers would call the 'fringes of rock music'. For the first we welcome someone whose music, I think, haven't reviewed a lot over the years, Yellow6, the one-man band of Jon Attwood. But its music I know pretty well from the days I sometimes sat behind a counter of music score, playing 7"s from labels as Earworm, Bad Jazz, Awkward Silence and such like. Lovely days indeed, and post-rock was word of the day. I lost Yellow6 out of sight, but learn that he has nine albums and twenty CDR releases, and over 250 tracks scattered around the globe. Larkian is one Cyril Monnard, from Lausanne, who plays guitar and those loop sampling machines, which guitarists use a lot these days. He also used a have a label called Tricycle Evolutif, who released a 7" by Yellow6, in 2002. Although the two discussed a split release, which didn't happen, it took some time before they started on a sound-file exchange project, which has resulted in this fine disc. As a spoiler: this music doesn't seem to have made any evolution since those years behind that counter. Spacious, slow guitar music, although, thanks to the title, completely without any rhythm. Very ambient, but the word 'shoegaze' should also be mentioned somewhere, as this richly textured music, sometimes moves into fuzzy land, such as in the lengthy 'Sequences Inversees'. This is an excellent album for such a grey day as it is today: very atmospheric, all played with guitars, and ultimately the way post-rock should sound. One of those things in music where when things are settled into a template its hard to move out. Hearing this I wonder if that would be necessary. I don't think so: its fine as it is.
A duo of whom I never heard, Maninkari, from France I think, using a variety of percussion instruments, viola, cimbalom, keyboards, samplers and create some interesting music. They've already did 'three albums from the same studio sessions', but this one is entirely new. This is quite interesting music, moving along fringes (again) of rock, improvised music, ambient, soundtrack like music. I am not sure if the studio is used as an instrument here, it might very well sensing this is a duo and there is quite an amount of instruments played around here, but they remain to have quite a free feeling. The improvised aspect of this music is never far away, especially in their use of percussion. It moves from the 'outside' (louder bits) to the 'inside' (more introspective playing). Maninkari have something that I recently also heard in other bands, all resembling the old working methods of Biota/Mnemonists: take the rock band to the studio and dissect the rock sound through studio techniques, all along never loosing an eye out for the rockist agenda. A true surprise this one. Excellent work. (FdW) Address:


Mezzacappa is San Francisco-based bassist and composer, leading and co-leading several ensembles, Nightshade being one of them. Also she participates in a diversity of  collaborations in pop, jazz, improv and chamber Music contexts. Nightshade was formed in 2009 and has the following line up: Cory Wright (clarinets), John Finkbeiner (electric guitar), Tim Perkis (electronics), Kjell Nordeson (vibraphone, percussion) and Lisa Mezzacappa herself on  acoustic bass. They interpret a work of Frank Zappa (‘The Eric Dolphy Memorial BBQ’) and one by Olivier Messiaen, ‘Regard de L’etoile’, both totally rearranged for this line up. The other five works on this CD are by Mezzacappa herself. Compositions that leave enough room for collective improvisation. In all compositions she hands interesting and engaging starting points for improvisation. The atmosphere of the music is academic  and controlled. More close to modern chamber music then to jazz. Although some jazzy elements are there, like the clarinet playing in ‘Alvamel’s Dream’. Because of this one often has the feeling that this kind of music is lacking blood in the veins. But I think this is not right. It has an appealing emotional force on another level.  It reveals its beauty if you give it a careful listening. This music is full of movements and details  that deserve attention.  None of the players dominates the spectrum. All take more or less equally part in the performances. Maybe Tim Perkis, compared to the rest, has the most serving role. But his subtle use of electronics is not to be missed. A fine first statement from this ensemble. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


ERB/BAKER/ZERANG – SAME (CD by Veto Records)
Veto Records is a small Swiss label specialized in improvised music. It is based in Lucerne, the city where Christopher Erb lives, one of the participants on this release. Zerang and Baker have their base both in Chicago. So we are talking here of a swiss-american meeting. Erb plays tenor sax and bass clarinet. Zerang maybe known to you as a drummer. Jim Baker plays analog synths and piano. They recorded a session of very concentrated and disciplined music in a studio in Chicago. They produce a type of improvised, non-jazz music that we know to come from (somewhere in) Europe. Yes, it may be correct to say that this kind of improvisation had its roots in Europe. Nowadays however this kind of improvisation gives no longer a clue of its geographical origin. Globalization has had its effect. The three players give way to some very nice and inspired improvisations, it is only a bit of humor and irony that I miss. A bit too serious. But a lot of intense and fine interplay is to be enjoyed here. With Baker providing out the time but totally on its place analogue sounds from some old synthesizer. I was immediately into it from the very first moment and stayed so. A very captivating and communicative  work (Dolf Mulder)


Quite unusual to see a disc of improvised music being closed with a remix, but these things happen. Here we have a quartet of players, Michel Doneda (soprano saxophone), Jonas Kocher (accordion, objects), Tomaz Grom (contrabass) and Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec on computer. They played in Maribor in December 2010 and its chopped into four pieces of quite interesting improvised music, which sounds quite 'object' based, utilizing 'instruments as objects' in a collage like manner, sounds bounce gently in all directions, sometimes mildly loud and mostly not. Not a wild trip, but then not a careful walk either - just a very nice disc of improvised music. The whole thing is mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi, who delivers also the remix. Taking the material played and constructing a whole new piece out of that is, as said, something that isn't done a lot in improvised music, but obviously the material can be used to some extent like this. Ielasi doesn't employ his recent trademark of short bouncing samples, but takes a multitude of sounds and constructs more solid playing, away from the collage like live recording, and composes a likewise gentle piece of music with it. No further electronics are used, I think, just a re-arranging of the material. A fine piece and perhaps something that could be done more? It would certainly add new dimensions to improvised music. Throughout a nice release. (FdW)


One half of MonoMono is Lars Carlsson, who composes both contemporary music, improvisation and electro-acoustic music. The latter can be found on this 'Laplaces Demon', a word he found at random when installing encyclopedia software on his son's computer. According to Wikipedia, Laplace's Demon, "In the history of science, Laplace's demon was the first published articulation of causal or scientific determinism by Pierre-Simon Laplace in 1814. According to determinism, if someone knows the precise location and momentum of every atom in the universe, their past and future values for any given time are entailed; they can be calculated from the laws of classical mechanics." Carlsson thinks this to be a bizarre idea but it set him to work, 'with my music would thus be predetermined, in waiting for a higher "hypothetical" intellect'. The twenty-one piece on this release are all related, and, although they have separate titles, they could also be seen as one piece, with everything being 84 bpm and a 'root note E in common'. It also sounds like one piece. It plays in the background, and there are striking similarities to be noted throughout this work, of repeating sounds that return every now and then, and one can assume in a different piece. Also there is a rhythm bit that returns all the time, which reminded me of Incite, along with crackles, hiss, static, pulsating drone bits. Almost a slow dance record that has a strange captivating character. Its all highly minimal music, but very hypnotic also. Probably one of those releases which you can easily play at random/repeat for a whole day. If only I had such time. (FdW)


OTSO - YONDER (CD by Audio Tong)
Audio Tong is a label which explores the music in Eastern Europe. "Yonder" is a debut solo release from Finnish Otso Lähdeoja who plays self-constructed augmented guitar and electronics. Otso lives now  in Brussels -Belgium and is also active in many different fields: music, dance, visual art, science and cinema. He created for example a movie without images, but full of sounds and imaginary words of Sebastian Dicenaire. The album Yonder is perfect for a relaxed evening, sitting with a glass of wine looking into the flames or staring at the stars in the sky. Otso plays his guitar on different ways, like blues, symphonic rock, post-rock and more. He creates his own musical field, which is not really new, but very cosy to be a part of? Some compositions are built up in a classical way, with a nice riff and harmonic sounds in the background. But life is not always this sweet and Otso knows also to create narrow-minded sounds with his ongoing guitar, which he completes with uptempo beats. Yonder is a beautiful debut of a good guitarist who knows to combine the sound of the strings with electronics. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


KAROL GWOZDZ - TAMTE CZASY (CD by Pscyhonavigation)
Silesian based composer Karol Gwozdz (with all sorts of ´and other marks, which I can't find on this keyboard) makes his debut here. I don't know much about him, expect when he is not creating music he reads poetry, literature, does graphic design or plays records as DJ Nail. His primary instrument is the piano, sometimes violin and 'rustle', but he doesn't opt for a clean recording. In each of the ten pieces he uses hiss taped from old cassettes as a background noise. All of that gets an electronic treatment. It makes it hard for me not to think of Harold Budd and Brian Eno's encounters in that very same world, so many years ago. Nothing seems to have changed, but it hardly matters I think. In this fairly traditional world of ambient music things only seem to get deeper and not wider; true innovations are far away, and it seems - one has to be careful with predicting the future - pretty much everything has been done before. That said, I think Gwozdz delivers a true fine ambient album of great quality. The tape hiss thing may sound on paper like a nasty thing but its far from it. Whatever it sounds like, gentleness is the keyword for this gentleman.Night has fallen over this not-so-winterly land but its warm inside - a good book at hand and then music like Gwozdz does is just great. Perhaps I wouldn't think to dig out Budd/Eno's 'The Pearl' from the shelf and just keep on with this. Excellent atmospherics.
And although I don't like to do this a lot, I tie in Sjaak Overgaauw's new CD under the name Premonition Factory into this story. Overgaauw, a Dutchman in Belgium has already made two albums (see Vital Weekly 725 and 771) of quite nice ambient music played on guitar and those loop devices which no guitarist can do without these days. Just Gwozdz with his piano, but then with a guitar. In the past Premonition Factory's music reminded me of Vidna Obmana, during that late 80s, early 90s synth phase, and it still does. In fact the guitar hardly ever sounds like a guitar anyway. On this CD the main course is a live recording in four parts made the excellent Dutch radio show X-Rated on Kink FM (who says commercial radio doesn't play strange music?), plus two bonus live recordings from Cologne and Brussels. As said, its not always easy to recognize the guitar in here, but oddly enough perhaps in the opening part best. Layered, sustained tones from the e-bow and effects, kinda like Robert Fripp does. But in the second piece it very much sounds like a synthesizer in full cosmic effect, with an arpeggio bass synth underneath. Something similar, but more mellow we have in the Cologne piece. Perhaps less Budd/Eno, but still with a lot of atmospherics, I think Premonition Factory slowly evolves into something that is more of his own. Which is a great thing, as copying your heroes (say Eno, say Vidna Obmana) is nice, but doing something with those influences that is more of your own is of course always better. Premonition Factory by adding and melting his guitar playing with more cosmic music induced sound is getting there. (FdW)


A highly limited LP, in an edition of 100 copies: yes, it seems physical formats are disappearing, which is a pity, since the crackles that vinyl makes is of course still lovely. Or perhaps the band isn't well-known yet, and sales will pick up soon? Poems In Stone is the name of that band, and are handling such things as '8tone gtr, vox, trombone, keyboards, violin, piano and synth', plus a choir of three 'vox angelis'. Now, I bet that doesn't say much about the music. Especially those 'vox angelis' put me on the wrong side. This is not what I really expected, but Poems In Stone are a bit of lo-fi rock/noise band in the best tradition of those New Zealand bands like Sandoz LabTechnicians or music by Bruce Russell, especially in the long 'Psychoduct'. In the other pieces, one on the same side and several shorter on the other, this influence is perhaps a bit less apparent, since there is also some singing here and there, which I guess makes it all a bit more psychfolk, with sufficient weirdness all around. Improvised, distorted (at modest times), maniacally and insane. If some of those New Zealand bands would have incorporated more voices they would have ended up sounding like this. Modern day garage psychedelics. The more I hear this, the more captivating it gets, and hidden somewhere clever things pop up, like an occasionally multi-tracked vocal. Perhaps not as insane as I expected… which makes it all the more surprising. (FdW) Address:


Steven Wilson of Bass Communion pointed me to this 7" and several days I found one in the mail. Its a 'new' thing, but everything about is 'old'. The six-panel fold out sleeve in black and white is obviously alike Crass Records 7"s, but the music is not at all. Good ol' industrial music at play here, clouded by mystery. Apparently we are not to know who did this 7", but according to mister Wilson its a) multiple persons/groups involved and b) one of them was quite well-known in the 80s. Now back then I would have found such mystery a misery, but these days I can only mildly smile about such things. Perhaps its some people who went on to play totally different music these days, but also find out that creating this kind of music is still great fun to do. So we have two tracks by Precision Surgery and one by The Savage Morality. If I have to put my money on something I think the latter sound, in all their density, not unlike the old Ramleh or Vidna Obmana. Great layered electronics, voice pushed away in the mix. The kind of power electronics that I like. Precision Surgery is harder to place on such diametrical lines. There is a rhythm machine, guitars - lots of them - and the same repressed-in-the-mix voice, but honestly I couldn't say what it sounds like. Maybe more late 80s/early 90s, when the power axis shifted from using pure electronics to distorted guitars? 'Kurzwellen 2' is certainly a more driven piece than the others on this 7". Mystery and misery aside, a great retro artifact, fine bleak cover. No address, but it might be available from this source, according to their facebook page: (FdW)


Mathka is a small label from Poland and releases beautiful music with nice artwork. 'Un' by Tomek Choloniewski is their fifth release. Tomek Choloniewski is a percussionist living and working in Kraków. He has completed his studies with the highest note at the Academy of Music in Kraków. His interests are particularly focused on improvised music. On the CD are five tracks with the fabulous titles, Unit, Untitled, Untilted, United and Unlitted. The tracks have length of about 3 till 4 minutes and that makes the music intense and focussed. He plays on different rhythm instruments what makes his sound pallet wide. Choloniewski knows how to improvise with his instruments and creates different atmosphere. Like a classic drum solo to an experimental free jazzy piece of beats. 'Un' is a great album for lovers of improvised music and percussion and I am looking forward to Deux. (Jan-Kees Helms)


BEDAWANG - SKIN = DECEPTION (CD by Must Die Records)
Bedawang is a Belgium project from Bruges by Christof Becu. Most of his music has been released on curious and dark collaboration projects all over the world. Skin = Deception is a full length album at the British label Must Die Records. Bedawang makes audio terror for the masses as his under construction website mentioned. But the album Skin = Deception has no terror effect at all. Analog dark analog drones are coming out of the speakers and create a dark ambient atmosphere. Seven tracks will take me to a dark world with isolation and minimalistic changes in the music and subtile sounds in the background. The sixth track has the most open atmosphere created by more high pitched sounds and an edited voice. The last track "Blaschko's Lines" lasts almost 25 minutes and is a beautiful dark droeny ambient piece of music, in which Bedawang slowly builds up the oppressive atmosphere. The music fits well to the artwork of the album. A picture of a moving nude woman photographed in a classical way in which is silence and movement. Bedawang creates silence by changing slowly the tones and layers in his music. Beautiful album for these dark evenings and cold days. (Jan-Kees Helms) Address:


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