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Vital Weekly 824

img  Tobias Fischer

More music from David Velez, who was already responsible for the first double CD on the mothership label Mystery Sea - see Vital Weekly 781 for that. This might be his first real CD - I am not sure. For this new work he visited the farm 'Las Margaritas', where his aunt and uncle have a farm house and recorded sounds around the farm for a few days. There is a small river floating nearby, insects, old tractors, work on the land, wind mobiles, the chimney and such like. Some of these sounds and textures reminded me of the old farm I used to visit when on holiday as a kid in Austria - in general, the slowness of life, as opposed to the hectic of bigger cities. Velez put these sounds together in a collage form that lasts some fifty minutes, of slowly moving sounds from these many field recordings. Its hard to say wether these field recordings are in any form processed, but somehow I don't think so. Its more a straight forward collage from life on the farm. For me this invokes the feeling of holiday in my youth on that farm, and I would immediately leave home and go there and spend two weeks on that quiet farm in Austria. That is perhaps the best quality of a release like this. One remembers something, based on what one hears - memories of childhood and such like. Although perhaps as such nothing much new seems to be happening in that specific world of field recordings, Velez crafted one of the better works I heard from him. (FdW) Address:


What to play first in the morning? A daily, obviously recurring question. It depends of course what is there. Right now I was looking at various items, reviewed this week, some of which I already heard and some I don't, and decided to pick something I hadn't heard - a risky operation.  Ballrogg is a trio of Klaus Ellerhusen Holm on alto saxophones, clarinet, electronics and field recordings, Roger Arntzen on double bass and Ivar Grydeland on pedal steel guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo and radio. They were a duo, sans guitar, before, but I never heard that incarnation. Their background is in jazz and free jazz, which is something one can easily hear in these four pieces, and perhaps something I should leave with Dolf Mulder, Vital's own jazzpert, but there was something about it that I really liked. The strings bring an added value to the music, which extend, for me at least, beyond jazz. Maybe its a country like, americana feel that is brought to the table, reminding me of chamber like music from Ben Vida or Town & Country, especially when Grydeland uses his pedal steel guitar. All players add a bit of experiment to their playing, that occasional sip of feedback from the wind instruments, the scraping of strings, on both guitar and bass, which make this is also less traditional. The whole intimate setting of this music, like they are sitting right in your living room, makes this a great CD to play when you get up, early morning. Now if jazz would be more like this chamber orchestra, I'd be all for it.
Also a trio is Cakewalk: Oystein Skar (synthesizers), Stephan Meidell (guitar, bass and boxes) and Ivar Loe Bjornstad (drums). They have been active with other bands such as Scared Harp, Highasakite, The Sweetest Thrill and the Hedvig Mollestad Trio. If Ballrogg can be seen as morning music, at least by me, then Cakewalk is perhaps best seen as evening music. Music with a great drive and energy, taking cues from rock music spiced with improvisation, and especially krautrock never seems far away. Especially when the train has left the station, the ball gets rolling and, the drums are on, then its on. Guitar and synthesizer add drone like, sustaining sounds, but here too the element of rock seems never far away. In 'Soil' we get a moment of rest, but its a sparse moment among the driving forces. The title piece is a more straight forward rock anthem it seems. Maybe this is all a bit too much unVital like, but I must admit this morning versus evening music was well enjoyed by me. (FdW)


A collection of 7 works by Ensemble Pamplemousse, a collective of performers and composers with a shared vision and passion for discovering new vistas of sound. Their names:  Natacha Diels (flute, composer), Kiku Enomoto (violin, photographer), Rama Gottfried (composer), David Broome (piano, composer), Jessie Marino (cello, composer) and Andrew Greenwald (composer). 2002 was their starting point. This first (?) release proves that they succeeded in establishing a very unique sonic world of ‘small music’. Don’t ask me why I  to call it that way. But it has something to do with their performance and compositions. There is a concept of simplicity behind these works and a concentration on elementary material. The compositions are built from small gestures, which make this music very sympathetic and human.  Their first disc contains three works that are all about “an exploration of codependent relationships in sound and music.” The four works on the second disc focus on ‘exploitative self-limitation’. The compositions made a strong imprint on me. Good stuff, spread out on two CDs. Silence is an important ingredient of most compositions, but also detailed complexity, short runs of hyper action, and also – not to forget - a sense of humor. The playing is virtuoso and inspired. All together fantastic playful modern chamber music full of magic and wit. Surely this one will make many friends. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


PAIL BUG – PAIL BUG (CD by Generate Records)
Pail Bug is Dietrich Eichmann (piano), John Hughes (double bass), Astrid Wiens (double bass) and Jeff Arnal (percussion). A unusual line up, that’s the first thing we can say. It is only the name of Jeff Arnal that did ring a bell. I reviewed two excellent duo albums by him with Aaron Dugan and Michael Evans, released by C3R. The recording on this release is already of some time ago. It was recorded on December 9, 2009 at Vivaldisaal in Berlin Germany in one session. No idea if this quartet is still in existence, and if so, if this recording reflects where there are today. Probably not. Because we are in the company of some very good improvisers, who are constantly heading for something new. German composer and pianist Dietrich Eichmann first studied with Alexander von Schlippenbach (piano) and Wolfgang Rihm (composition). Cecil Taylor, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Luigi Nono, and Morton Feldman, a.o. are his points of reference. In 2002 started his duo work with Jeff Arnal, a highly original percussionist. Arnal studied orchestral percussion and composition. But same as Dietrich Eichmann he is also a very capable improviser. John Hughes is active in the jazz and improvisation community of Hamburg, playing with numerous improve groups and projects. Weins worked extensively with Peter Kowald. So far the crew. There improvisations are very concentrated and a lot happens. They chose different angels in the improvisations. The second one starts from repetitive motives from the piano. The third starts with a dialogue between two basses with some coloring by Arnal. Throughout fantastic interplay between the musicians is to be enjoyed. There several moments on this cd where the music really lifts you up into something beyond. Great intense work. (Dolf Mulder) Address:


Although around for a long time, it wasn't until Vital Weekly 815 that we reviewed something again by Jon Attwood, better known as Yellow6. That was a collaborative work with French Larkian, but in spring time last year he toured the lowlands, Belgium, The Netherlands and France, performing at the Tonefloat tf100 festival (along with Dirk Serries as Sleep Of Reason) and in Antwerp at the Live Looping Festival. That is a well-chosen name for a festival where people like Yellow6 perform. Basically a man, a guitar and loop devices. His three pieces from that festival are captured in audio and film, and both can heard and watched. On the CD there are also six pieces recorded from the audience, so we have a curious mixture of guitar playing and audience activities, although which is very quiet most of the time. These six pieces have been manipulated by David Newlyn. Like I remarked when reviewing the collaborative CD with Larkian, this kind of music hardly progresses, and probably doesn't want to either. With all of this audio and video material, quite an overload. As a music lover I should say I enjoyed the CD more, but that's not entirely true. The CD contains great music, but perhaps music that I also know well quite now. Therefore I had more joy here with the DVD, especially his playing at the Live Looping festival, which lasts thirty minutes. Its interesting to see Attwood at work, playing few notes and then starting to loop them around, adding a few more, more loops, a texture, a strum, loop and loop. The floor is covered with all sorts of boxes to transform sounds, color them, change them. Attwood is playing them with great care and hardly a guitar hero, rock god type of musician. On the DVD there is a bunch more of bonus material, such as a spacious film and likewise spacious soundtrack by various film makers and even a slide show of tour pictures. Video and images work well together here and that's nice. But obviously sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy 'just' music and then the CD is perhaps the best alternative. Like said, in this particular world 'innovation' doesn't seem to be that important, but quality is delivered no less. An excellent tour report. (FdW)


PLAISTOW - LACRIMOSA (CD by Insubordinations)
For his eleven pieces for prepared piano, Erdem Helvaciouglu pays homage to some of his favorite film directors (Lynch, Kieslowski, Angelopoulos, Campion, Ki-Duk, Soderberg), but the titles do not refer to any of them especially, but rather scenes from movies. Me no film buff, I could say to which movies these scene belong. Turkish composer Helvacioglu has composed electronic music, which we reviewed in Vital Weekly 675, but here its the prepared piano, which he prepared with pencils, erasers, paper, plastic and metal spoons, knives, forks, drumsticks, guitar plectrums and slides, e-bows, metal plates, clapsticks, ear plugs, paperclips, a toy train and a 60s fashion magazine (in case you are ever near piano, you know what to try out, but be sure to use the strings inside). The music is throughout what I would lump in with the modern classical world, and John Cage never seems far away, but overall Helvacioglu has a melodic touch also, a melodic melancholiac touch that is. Indeed the sort of music you would imagine to go along art house movies - long open camera shots of an empty park, with one bench in the middle, with a person sitting on it. From the far right somebody walks slowly to the bench and 'Trapped In The Labyrinth' is the soundtrack. I can all too easily imagine that happening. Normally I am not the biggest lover of modern classical music, but for this lovely solo prepared piano I very gladly make an exception.
The piano also plays a role on the CD by Plaistow, a trio with pianist Johann Bourquenez, electric bass player Raphael Ortis and Cyril Bondi on drums. They got their name from Suqarepusher' 'Plaistow Flex Out', but there is no link to drum & bass, but they are called 'post jazz', which made me raise an eyebrow. But I am reviewing it, so it must be something less jazz? It is. The piano opens up with a repetitive motive which he continues for a long time. Drum and bass slowly walk into the music and from then a very minimal piece of jazz music unfolds for the next nine minutes, which then moves into another part of the same piece. Its the title piece and it lasts almost twenty-three minutes, and its an excellent piece. It slowly unfolds but never really expands or takes a different shape. For me that would have been enough. Steve Reich on a post-jazz roll? The second and last piece, 'Cube' is a more jazz like piece, with the drums playing a much active part, and the piano playing two minimal tones, with the bass in a supporting. Here too the piece is broken up in two parts. The piano continues but we land in a more improvised piece, especially the drums, but coming to back the original tune. Now that's jazz! But certainly jazz owing to post rock and most of all minimal music. Is there more like this? I might become a jazz-fan. (FdW)


ATHANA REMIXED 2012 NO:US (LP by West Audio Productions)
LARS LEONHARD - NO COMMENT (12" by Bine Music)
Hot on the heels of the Athana collaborative release with Schanche - see Vital Weekly 819 - here is another new record and its the successor to 'Athana Remixed 0508' (Vital Weekly 630). Back then I had no idea what I was dealing with, as I never heard of Athana before. Now, four years later, I have, and I still have some reservations against the whole remix thing, but I guess this lot brings the music into new circles. Two US remixers and two from Norway, with twice the same song remixed, 'I.O. Roni' and 'Picazzo'. I never heard of any of the four remixers at hand, Ost & KJex, Mungolian Jetset, Uberzone and Desantis. Like the previous remix project, these four pieces (more a 12" than a LP perhaps) are all from the world of techno and house. It sounds pretty good, I'd say, but I am perhaps not the right person to discuss the differences in the labyrinth of styles that techno/house has become. It sounds good, the weather is sunny, what more could you want? An enjoyable record, and perhaps one that will find its way to DJ turntables around the world. Let's hope so.
And perhaps I could write the same thing about Lars Leonhard's new 12". On one side Leonhard remixes his own 'No Comment', besides offering an 'original edit', on the other side we have remixes by Sven Schienhammer, T. Touzimsky and Scanner (all label mates). In his own work Leonhard - see also the review of his '1549' in Vital Weekly 798 - combines dub, dance and ambient music, and as I predicted a return of ambient house - actually for a while now - this fits in perfect with that. Lots of waving synthesizers with delay techniques to create that dub like feel and slow dubby rhythm at the core of it all. Sample-less, this could be great intro pieces for extended Orb tracks, but its not yet entirely dance floor material. The remixes on the other side are more related to the dance floor, owing more to techno than to ambient music. Nice stuff indeed. Weather is still warm, you can sit outside and your feet taps along the 4/4 rhythm. (FdW)

LASSE-MARC RIEK - HARSH ENVIRONMENTS (cassette by Banned Productions)
Gruenrekorder director Lasse-Marc Riek is also a composer of work dealing with field recordings. Don't let the title of his latest cassette scare you away: its far from 'Harsh Environments'. Apparently these field recordings were taped from 2006-2010, but the way it sounds, made me think its more or less one piece spread out over the two sides of the tape. It sounds like the sea, but taped from some distance, which means 'harsh' is not really the right word. Maybe there has been some sort of editing, actually I am sure it has, but it doesn't sound like it. One piece, thirty or so minutes of static sea like sounds. Its the kind of stuff that fits perfect on the medium of cassette - not exactly aiming to have a fixed composition, but rather a sketch, or a notion of a work. Perfect stuff to incorporate into a live DJ set of similar sounds, sketches and notions. At that its hard to say if this really good (or not, perhaps). It is what it is. (FdW)


SHALOCINS - SISTER ARHYTHM (cassette by Put Your Hands Down)
Put Your Hands Down is a tape label 'solely in existence to release recordings by RN Juristo and his solo projects, bands and collaborations' it says on the xeroxed flyer. Aesthetic wise this is down right very 80s: xeroxed cover, type writer font kind of thing. Juristo has 'solo projects and bands' by such names as Plonk Moist, Claridomens and Shalocins. Of the latter I received 'Sister Arhythm' a forty minute with two twenty minute pieces. Here too we dive in retro world: crudely cut tape loops, with some sound effects. Vastly layered from a bunch of sound sources, all hard to define in this mass/mess of sounds. 'Will Power Weed' on the b-side is harsher than the title piece on the a-side, which I liked in the end more. The loops are also shorter on the b-side, which gives a short rhythmic aspect to the music. With a bit of will, you can say that he resembles Vivenza on that side, and Boyd Rice (circa 'Black Album') on the title piece. Nice, but is forty as good as twenty? Or even ten minutes? I am not sure if this length works better for the amount of information it contains.
But Juristo knows his way and so the other release is two parts of the same title, 'messing with each other field recordings and concrete sounds', it says on the cover. Also twice twenty minutes.  Part one shows similar layering as the a-side of 'Sister Arythm', which is not too much, and not too noisy, but it works nice. I am reminded of Domaine Poetique, which was the 80s collaboration of Jerman with John Hudak. The other side however is even less layer-based and here it works even better. The rumble and dirt of concrete sounds of unknown origin and wind blowing down microphones make up an almost poetic piece of the dirtier kind of field recording. Raw and mildly intense I'd say. Here too I might argue its five minutes too long on either side, but throughout its a highly enjoyable release. (FdW) Address: <>


PHIL JULIAN - TRANSCRIPT (cassette by Obsolete Units)
TWISTYCAT - SOLAR PLEXUS (cassette by Obsolete Units)
For a long time best known as Cheapmachines, Phil Julian now works, from time to time, under his own name, and while I am not sure what makes the difference, his output has always been quite diverse. From noise to ambient to electro-acoustic and anything that might make a cross-over between all of that. Here he returns to lo-fi sound sources: blank cassette tapes (bulk erased, endless loop, vintage, new), cassette decks (stereo, mono), personal stereo and dictaphones and the music is recorded with cassette recorder, telephone induction cells, close-range VLF detector, piezo & pvdf film tab contact microphones. 'Transcript' has two parts and it makes up quite a minimal set of works, hissy, scratchy but also spacious and mildly noise based. An excellent choice, I'd say, to put these works out on cassette, and unlike some others of this week, the overall sound quality is very good. Julian knows how to construct his sound pieces to keep them both minimal yet interesting and works along the lines of Howard Stelzer in that respect, but also Joe Colley and Jason Zeh as an influence is never far away. Excellent cassette all around.
TwistyCat has had releases on Obsolete Units before, but I am not sure if I reviewed them. TwistyCat is a duo of Ed Bear (baritone saxophone, electronics, radio) and Lea Bertucci (bass clarinet, electronics, tapes). This sort of line up might lead to 'improvisation' and surely the music here is generated along such lines, but it has an interesting quality along the lines of 'drones' and 'minimalism' too. Building up slowly, from electro-acoustic rumble (found sound from tapes, radio, I assume) to long sustaining sounds on the respective wind instruments, with a low end rumble, the electronics I should think. The other side seems to be exactly the same working method, but then in reverse. Starting out with similar sustaining wind instrument, spacing out in a more sparse manner, with the present electronics moving out or (ear-)range also over the course of these fifteen minutes, opening up like flower. Sparse means are used to create a distant and widening musical journey. Excellent sound quality here too, marking an excellent release. (FdW)


56K - GENERATIONS LOST (cassette by Notice Recordings)
Josh Burke is the man behind 56K. Before that he worked as Sky Limousine, Ocean Diamond, Silk Fountain and other names, but now its 56K. Apparently in all of these projects, the synthesizer is his main instrument, and so its here. 'Voices' opens with voices from an otherwise empty hall, with waving synth tones, but its more an introductionary piece. The other pieces showcase a classic Tangerine Dream sound of long sustaining synthesizer sounds, but only once with the arpeggio held down. Otherwise spaciously meandering about but with a nice lo-fi edge to it, like so many of similar artists had in the eighties, think 'Visions' compilation on Third Mind, YHR tapes, Neumusik and the works of Enno Velthuys to name but a few. Of course this fits nicely with the resurrection of cosmic music in recent years, which made me think: with such fine quality, why hasn't nobody released Josh Burke on record yet? Or perhaps I am mistaken, which is no doubt possible. So aspiring A&R managers on the look out for cosmic talent: 56K!
In the mid 90s Kirk Marrison (member of the band Kiln) and Charlie Nash (Arsenal and Rhys Chatman) formed Waterwheel and they were supposed to release two records on Alley Sweeper Records, but only one, 'Panchroma' was released. The second was shelved, but 'Waterwheel Windmill' is that record, so about fifteen years too late. Too late? That is of course a matter of opinion. Late for what? If its good then its never too late. Nash is the guitarist, just as Marrison, who also plays keyboards, by which I assume we can also understand sampling. Although the music is old, it hasn't aged and these experimental musings are still valid today. The guitar is sampled together and transformed to create rhythmic patterns, on top of which more guitars are being played. While abstract in some of the direct guitar playing, the sampling is what makes it a more musical release. Somehow I was thinking: 'wow, this would have been a nice release for Multimood', sitting nicely along Rob Angus, Brannon Hungness and those guys (but a quick search learned me that label is gone) - that whole mid nineties scene of experiment, ambient, abstract yet always somehow vaguely melodic and musical. This should have been released at the time when it was made and on CD. Good to see it out anyway. (FdW) Address:


KIKO C. ESSEIVA - PARCOURS FLECHE (cassette by Masters Chemical Society)
Back in Vital Weekly I reviewed a CDR collaboration of Eric Boros (also known as Hermit) with swiss Kiko C. Esseiva. I didn't know who he was, and still I know nothing. On this release the only thing that we are told is that its musique concrete and it was realized between 2009 and 2010. Four pieces, two relatively short and two longer. The website says: "An interrogation of mundane reality by self-taught musique concrète artist Kiko C. Esseiva. "Parcours Fléché" (or "Arrow marked path") represents modern life as a tightrope walk from childhood to death. Sounds of work and leisure recur, entangle & deform. Larger patterns are revealed. These are the rhythms of our days, seen at great remove. Working with elderly tape machines and digital editing, Esseiva has constructed something profound from the moments we ignored." A day in the life? We hear someone sleeping, an alarm clock, music - a classical that I know but can't place - people gathering and then sleep again and then get up again. Quite a 'concept' piece I'd say, and although nothing new to depict such a day, Esseiva works out things quite nicely. His sound sources seem sampled together and involves a bit of turntablism I think and has a plunderphonic like character at times, especially when it comes to sampled orchestral movements. In a world that usually has 'abstract' pieces without a story, Esseiva is a bit of anomaly, but an anomaly that delivered a fine work. Not just because its different, but also just because its very good. Great choice of sounds, put together in an intelligent way, and with great care for the composition. (FdW) Address:


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