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Vital Weekly 867

Asmus Tietchens

JERI-MAE G. ASTOLFI – HERE (AND THERE) (CD by Innova) *
ANDREW MCPHERSON – SECRETS OF ANTIKYTHERA (CD by Innova) *
DREAMSTATE VS HEIKI – THE NORTH SHORE (CD by Paperplusound) *
THE OUTSIDE AGENCY – THE DOGS ARE LISTENING (CD by Ad Noiseam)
ENDUSER / NEEDLE SHARING / THE TEKNOIST – ENDUSER SHARES NEEDLE WITH THE TEKNOIST (CD by Ad Noiseam)
DREISSK – EDGE_HORIZON (CD by N5MD) *
YANN NOVAK – PARADISE & WINCHESTER (CD by Unfathomless) *
RENT ROMUS – LORD OF OUTLAND – THEE UNHIP (CD by Edgetone)
THOLLEM MCDONAS & WILLIAM PARKER & NELS CLINE – THE GOWANUS SESSION (CD by Porter Records)
ASMUS TIETCHENS/ROLF ZANDER – TARPENBEK (CD by Auf Abwegen) *
SOMNAMBULANCE – NIGHT-WANDERING (CD by Everest Records) *
KAWAGUCHI TAKAHIRO & CHOI JOONYONG – SUNCHEON HYANGGYO (CD by Balloon & Needle) *
KAMIL KOWALCZYK – NOVA (CDR by Prototyp Records) *
ROTATION: A DARK AMBIENT/EXPERIMENTAL COMPILATION (CDR by Uncoild Loops/Facility Records)
25YM – THE ORIGINALS (CDR compilation by Motok)
25YM – THE REMIXES (CDR compilation by Motok)
E.M.M. – CYGNUS (CDR by Motok) *
OPHION – SACROSANCT (CDR by Twice Removed) *
EASYCHORD – SO LIFELESS, SOMETIMES (CDR by Twice Removed) *
ANONYMEYE – SIX IMPROVISATIONS FOR COMPUTER AND GUITAR (3″CDR by Twice Removed) *
STUART CHALMERS – DAYDREAM EMPIRE (CDR by LF Records) *
SETH COOKE – PNEUMA (CDR by LF Records) *
SINDRE BJERGA – BLACK PAPER WINGS (3″CDR by LF Records) *
LINDA O’KEEFE & SLAVEK KWI – COLLABORATION 2009-2012 (3″CDR by Tentacles Of Perception Recordings)
MAS AYA – POCKETS (cassette by Tomaturj)
NATHAN VENTURA – LOVE SONGS (cassette, private)

listen

tracklist for Vital Weekly 867:

0000 Tune
0014 DreamState vs Heiki – Snow Drifter
0314 Anonymeye – Two
0606 E.M.M. – Kappa Cygni
0911 Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi – Confetti Variations
1213 Asmus Tietchens – Tarpenbek 4
1513 Andrew McPherson – Secrets Of Antikythera
1833 Kamil Kowalczyk – Dark Matter
2135 Somnambulance – Dreams Are Absent
2443 Ophion
2749 Seth Cooke
3052 Yann Novak
3356 Easychord – I Wasn’t There For A Goodbye
3701 Dreissk – Get
4008 Stuart Chalmers – Dreamtiger
4251 Sindre Bjerga – Black Paper Wings
4556 Kawaguchi Takahiro & Choi Joonyong – Suncheon Hyanggyo
4909 Tune

JERI-MAE G. ASTOLFI – HERE (AND THERE) (CD by Innova)
ANDREW MCPHERSON – SECRETS OF ANTIKYTHERA (CD by Innova)
A CD with piano music and electronics in that classical sense: ‘music for instrument and tape’, rather than ‘electronically treated piano sounds’. Astolfi from Canada is a classically trained musician, playing works from all periods, Renaissance up to contemporary works, but apparently likes the latter on best. Here she plays six pieces by very contemporary composers. All of these works, save one, were composed in 2011-2012, and one is from 1999, all written for her. All of these composers are American: Phillip Schroeder, Ed Martin, Jeff Herriott, Brian Belet, Tom Lopez and Jim Fox. An interesting collection of piece it surely is.The piece by Lopez for instance starts out like a collage of plundered piano pieces (Bach, Feldman), but then with the addition of fireworks over the course of the next fifteen minutes move to a very quiet piece with the chirping of insects in the background. Fox’ piece adds the human voice, reciting a text by Joseph Dalton Hooker in a throughout quiet piece, not unlike Fox’ music on Cold Blue. In the pieces by Schroeder and Martin there is the use of overtones, mainly generated from the use of inside piano techniques and close miking. The piano stays quite melodic and vivid in these pieces. Jeff Herriott’s piece focusses on the piano and the reverb colors the piece a bit more. Finally in Belet’s piece all the tricks to modify piano sounds are used openly and is perhaps the most electro-acoustic piece on this CD. Great work, great execution.
The CD with three works by Andrew McPherson starts out in a very modern classical way, a piece for solo violin, which is very nice but perhaps a bit too traditional for my taste. In the second piece the viola is played along with a magnetic resonator piano, which is an invention of McPherson himself, creating, if I understand well, overtones, which in ‘d’Amore’ is used quite sparse, I think. Those two first pieces serve as an introduction of the title piece which has nine parts and are for the same magnetic resonator piano and a real piano. Here the possibilities are bit more clearer I think. The device places more emphasis on some of the sounds played by the piano, stretching it out in a very natural way. It adds both a sort of natural reverb to it, but it also gives a great depth to the music. All three pieces seem to be more firmly rooted in the world of modern classical music, more than the six played by Astolfi, and perhaps not too easily be discussed by Vital Weekly, but both releases are very nice. Both of them could have as easily fitted on Cold Blue Music, come to think of it. (FdW)
Address: http://www.innova.mu

DREAMSTATE VS HEIKI – THE NORTH SHORE (CD by Paperplusound)
More music by Canada’s Dream State, or, as the spell it, DreamSTATE, a duo of Scott M2 and Jamie Todd. In Vital Weekly 751 we already reviewed ‘A Decade Dreaming’, which I thought was a fine release of Ambient, with the capital A, cosmic, with the capital C and they were the grandchildren of Tangerine Dream, although I didn’t write that. Here the two hook up with Heiki Sillaste, himself also an electronic musician. He was their guest at Drone Cycle 2012 and the weekend before the three of them played together and recorded some music together. Two shorter pieces and one very long pieces and for this release also a shorter live recording from the actual concert. The thematic approach for these January 2012 session was winter, and now, a winter later, these are released on this CD. Snow, not a common feature in The Netherlands, has been here already for a whole week, but I bet it’s not going to be here as long as in Canada, and not as cold (or did I merely hope so?). I am not sure if I would call this music ‘cold’ per se? Not really, actually. It’s heavily layered cosmic music, with stretched out fields of sustaining sounds, bending tones, slow gliding oscillating tones and such like. Very much like early Tangerine Dream(STATE?) and Klaus Schulze, less an arpeggio’s. Hold down a few keys and slowly twist those knobs. It’s the kind of music I must admit I very much like. It’s also the kind of music that is easy to create yourself, given the right tools (analogue or digital), and which also reminds the listener of any older cosmic music. You could argue if both of that is a real problem, but I don’t think it is. It is perhaps because I like all of this sort of music, but it also made me think that since all of this is interchangeable, I may not play any of these releases easily again. Now that is, me thinks, more of a problem. (FdW)
Address: http://www.paperplusound.com

THE OUTSIDE AGENCY – THE DOGS ARE LISTENING (CD by Ad Noiseam)
ENDUSER / NEEDLE SHARING / THE TEKNOIST – ENDUSER SHARES NEEDLE WITH THE TEKNOIST (CD by Ad Noiseam)
What a blast! Third album from Dutch project The Outside Agency is a true sonic bomb ready to explode as soon as you press the play-button. Behind the project you find two of the Netherland’s finest artists from the hyper-energetic and beat-driven territories of electronic music. Noel Wessels alias DJ Hidden has made great impressions on me with his hardcore meets breakcore-focused albums released on German label Ad Noiseam. The other part of this joint venture is Frank Nitzinsky, best known for his drum&bass-artistry as Eye-D. Present album titled “The dogs are listening” is a brutal beast circulating somewhere in the borderlands between hardcore techno, power noise, breakcore and drum & bass. Musically the blasting rhythmic textures dominates while voice-samples and atmospheric ambient-scapes creates a sinister atmosphere. This is the soundtrack for the perfect nightmare or for any dance floors of hell. Another brain crusher just released on Ad Noiseam is the new split-album released by three of extreme electronics most passionate beat-maniacs. Lynn Standafer, more commonly known as Enduser, creates industrial strength drum and bass and hip-hop flavored breakcore and was among others promoted by BBC’s legendary John Peel. Mike Hayward alias The Teknoist is hardcore/gabber technoid DJ & producer from Manchester. The last of threesome is German act Needle Sharing. Needle Sharing was founded in 1991 by Roland Danielzig, taking its name from a documentary on AIDS, shown on british TV. The recipe of this conceptual album is simple yet interesting. Each act provides the two other acts with a pools of sound. Takings its starting point in the delivered sound pools from each other, the album carrying the titled “Enduser shares needles with the Teknoist”, presents three awesome tracks from each artist. Despite the contributions from the three artists having been blend into each other there is a very nice flow throughout the 48 minutes runtime. Brutal beat-driven powerhouse at its best! (NM)
Address: http://www.adnoiseam.net

DREISSK – EDGE_HORIZON (CD by N5MD)
From Seattle hails Dreissk (also known as Kevin Patzelt), an electronic musician. There is no further information on him available, which is a pity. There are ten tracks on ‘Edge_horizon’, which is his second album I think. There is an amount of synthesizers to be detected on this album, along with guitars, sound effects and a small amount of rhythm devices, although these aren’t always used in every track here. There is always a lot of ambient music reviewed in Vital Weekly and compared with this week’s other ambient albums (Kowalczyk, DreamState), the music of Dreissk seems to be a bit more louder and angular, more towards the sustaining edge of things with those guitars and ebows, more the darker edge of a post nuclear horror-movie than some long wide open camera shots of a desert if you get my drift. The press information makes a reference to Vangelis’ ‘Blade Runner’ soundtrack, and while I don’t know that one, I think I know what they mean. There is an element of bombast in these pieces for sure, which I sometimes find way too much, such as the percussion in ‘.Through’, along with the dramatic piano sounds that indeed sound like Vangelis behind the 88 keys. So some of these pieces are not really my cup of tea, other are more like it. Here we have a great sense of ambient soundscapes, dark obviously, but in the hands of Dreissk also quite musical  as it seems there is always a melody lurking about, mostly on the piano or some keyboard, while the guitars wails about. An album that I played with more interest than always with enjoyment. You can see the quality which went into the production and the music, while it remains at the same time also a bit too distant for my taste. (FdW)
Address: http://www.n5md.com

YANN NOVAK – PARADISE & WINCHESTER (CD by Unfathomless)
There was a time the name Yann Novak propped up in these pages quite regularly, if not for his own music, it was for releases on his Dragon’s Eye Recordings, but in more recent times this has become less and less. I am not sure why this is. Maybe he just releases less and less, or perhaps not all of his releases reach me. Here he has an interesting work which deals with the sounds of The Las Vegas Strip, in itself part of the Las Vegas boulevard, ‘outside the city limit, spanning the two unincoprorated townships of Paradise and Winchester, where the majority of the casinos and tourist activity takes place’. This is not exactly a new soundtrack to Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Showgirls’ (a fav here) or ‘Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas’. In fact  should you not have known this, would you be able to tell this forty some minute was recorded in one the most hectic and noisy cities in the world? I don’t think so. At the same time I have to admit that I am also not entirely sure to what extend there has been sound processing. Surely something, which makes a very nice pattern of gliding sounds and endless delays, but in between, in the backside, far away we still hear the activities of humans. Voices, cars parking and that sort of thing, but also the sound of wind, blowing down the microphone. In these forty-three minutes he moves between various settings, in all about five or six different movements. It has that gentle microsound feel that is part of many of the previous works by Novak have, and perhaps as such isn’t the new approach to what he does. That aside though, this I thought was a great work. Taking the quiet sounds of a busy city and melt that into a gentle soundscape. Very nice! (FdW)
Address: http://www.unfathomless.net

RENT ROMUS – LORD OF OUTLAND – THEE UNHIP (CD by Edgetone)
A co-release of Edgetone Records and Nine Winds, presenting Romus’ latest statement. Lord of Outland is is collective formed in 1994. For this recording the collective is made up of CJ Borosque (trumpet, analog electronics), Ray Schaeffer (6-string electric bass) and Philip Everett (drums, autoharp, electronics) and  Rent Romus (alto, soprano, C-melody saxophones). Romus is a saxplayer, improviser, bandleader, producer, etc., working in the San Francisco area. Starting in the mid 80s his music is documented on about 20 albums. He also runs Edgetone Records. Listening to Romus one often hears the jazz and blues tradition in a confrontation with an experimental attitude, to create musical possibilities. The opening jazz piece ‘If Ornette Grew Cacti’ is a very speedy happening with everybody on the run, in a manner we know from the work by Ornette Coleman. Also with a lot of humor, by the way . ‘Panic of the Plutarcs’ is an example of a very open improvisation that is beyond jazz. At another extreme we find  ‘Spaceway Transport’, a very noisy and loud sound only improvisation. Also ‘dedication to Lake Kraken of Titan off the shores of Saturn’ starts as an outburst of electronic bleeps and bloops, but halfway Romus drops in on sax, as well the other players, and the piece changes into a more acoustic improvisation, but still with electronic noises as one of the ingredients. In ‘Get Hit’ for example, or ‘Sledge of Hedge’ the meeting of electronic sound art and jazz improvisation is most successful and enjoyable in my perception. All in all Interesting stuff from these pioneers. (DM)
Address: http://www.ninewinds.com

THOLLEM MCDONAS & WILLIAM PARKER & NELS CLINE – THE GOWANUS SESSION (CD by Porter Records)
Nomadic improviser McDonas has a very productive year behind him. I guess to perform live is what really counts most for him. But besides that, he had a considerable output of CDs last year. In 2012 about seven releases have him as a major participator. On most  releases we find him a small line ups. With his Italian mates Andrea Caprara, Matteo Bennici, Piero ‘Torpedo’ Spitilli, Jacopo Andreini, McDonas runs Tsigoti, a band that springs an avant punk attitude and  revolutionary political viewpoints. In 2012 they produced their 3rd and 4th album: ‘The Imagination Liberation Front Thinks Again’ and ‘Read Between The Lines…Think Outside Them”. With John Dieterich (Deerhoof) he recorded ‘Bad News from Houston’. Again with Dieterich, plus Mike Watt (Minutemen!) and Tim Barnes ‘Hand to Man Band’ followed. ‘10,000 Tigers’is his album  with Arrington de Dionyso (Old Time Relijun, etc.). ‘Polishing the Mirror’ was recorded with Edoardo Marraffa and Stefano Giust. Another proof that McDonas established fruitful contacts in Italy. With ‘The Gowanus Session’ we are talking about a trio with heavy weights Nels Cline (electric guitar) and William Parker (bass). Parker is rooted in the free jazz tradition – if that is not contradictory to say, and Nels Cline has made his marks. MacDonas is the new and young one in this combination. The album is dedicated to Stefano Scodanibbio, a contra bassist and composer, who died last year. McDonas recorded the exceptional album ‘Debussy’s Piano’ with him and has McDonas playing on Debussy’s piano. ‘The Gowanus Session’ is a strange and above all heavy work. Be seated as you start playing this one, because they take you on a wild ride. The material is very raw and unpolished in a way. Also there were moments when I asked myself: are they working together, listening to each other, or is everybody doing his thing? I think the last is the case, but somehow they were fighting in the battle. But there are also many very fine moments with intense interaction, like in the opening piece ‘There are’. McDonas plays often Cecil Taylor-like clusters that go on and on. Also there is something romantic in the style of  his playing that makes him feel inked to the European classical tradition, that I am however unable to describe more precise. In their apocalyptic improvisations it is often Cline’s work that attracts my attention. His escapades in ‘Lives’ are absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking. An extraordinary piece! Moments that have Parker in the lead are very needed moments to take a breath. They take you into a demanding but very rewarding experience as we say in these cases. (DM)
Address: http://www.porterrecords.com

ASMUS TIETCHENS/ROLF ZANDER – TARPENBEK (CD by Auf Abwegen)
In our self-chosen ‘rules’ we don’t accept anything that this not the real thing, but sometimes we ask for it, such as in this case. It’s simply a matter of wanting to be informed of everything that Asmus Tietchens does, perhaps a life-long habit now. This CD comes in a LP sized box with twelve prints by Rolf Zander – ok, which I didn’t see then, but I looked at his website and have an idea what he does. And I think it fits the minimal music of Tietchens very well. What seems the case with the work of Zander is that there is an certain level of erasing in his treated zinc plates and of course know Tietchens for having a similar interest in erasing sound and use the bare minimum of what remains. If I am to believe what the liner notes tell me these printings were used by Tietchens to define his music, but maybe that’s just an interpretation of the writer. Set up an equalizer, some oscillator or whatever kind of filter and then feed whatever sound through these applications – I am never sure if herr Tietchens still only uses analogue equipment or also digital ones these days. Whatever it is, the results are without doubt Trademark Tietchens. At least of course the Tietchens that has been exploring this route for the last ten or more years, perhaps since he started to release music on Mille Plateaux and later 12K. Carefully placed clicks and cuts, sustaining sine wave like sounds, all heavily reduced, the bare necessities of a simple sound. This is the electro-acoustic music that I love, that doesn’t dwell on glissandi to evoke a sense of drama as I hear so often, but a simple, drama-free sound, highly abstract in nature (and henceforth probably not the most popular in its kind, sad to say), but oh so beautiful. Its not that Tietchens adds anything to what we know about his work, but it’s just another confirmation of what a great composer he is. This is an excellent release! (FdW)
Address: http://www.aufabwegen.de

SOMNAMBULANCE – NIGHT-WANDERING (CD by Everest Records)
Last monday it was ‘blue monday’, the dreariest day of the year and while I think I have no such thing as winter depression, it may sometimes get to me. Why I am doing whatever it is I am doing. That sort of thing. I look upon things with a certain amount of sceptisism and this no different. Here we have a duo of Valentin Dietrich on bass and electronics and Silvan Jeger on guitar and electronics and they call themselves Somnambulance. They play mood music for people who have some trouble with sleeping, as depicted on the cover, music for the last hours of the day, or the first, depending how you look upon this. They played noise in the past, but now turned the volume and play these ten pieces of mood music. Or doom, which ever you twist the words, but that’s what Everest indicate themselves about the title piece ‘the striking Joy Division bass-lines’ (and to make the connection with ‘blue monday’ again), which I didn’t found that striking. Maybe its the winter depression after all, maybe it’s just me, but I must admit I had a hard time with this. It’s great music in fact, ambient with guitars – I mean, who ever thought of that – lots of electronics, many drones, some flageolets, a fine album. But I heard all of this before, already. Maybe that’s my problem with this. Somnambulance sound like Stars Of The Lid, and I haven’t had time to hear their records in quite some time. I am thinking: I can understand why people want to create music, and that it usually sounds like something else, but understand me too, when I don’t always have the same enthusiasm about it. Alright? (FdW)
Address: http://www.everestrecords.ch

KAWAGUCHI TAKAHIRO & CHOI JOONYONG – SUNCHEON HYANGGYO (CD by Balloon & Needle)
It’s probably a good thing that I first watched the Vimeo film about this release, as otherwise I would have had a hard time knowing what this is all about. But here you get the idea https://vimeo.com/39271164 This is not music from a performance released on CD, but rather the audio part of the performance released on CD. The performance was held at the Suncheon Confucian School and we see the performers, Kawaguchi Takahiro and Choi Joonyong setting up chairs and cover them with plastic, etc. There is occasionally a bit of electric disturbance. I am not sure what it means, this performance, if anything at all, but I am sure it does mean something. It all seems rather ‘fluxus’ inspired to me, or hell, what I do know, dada minded. From a point of view of having this as some sort of electro-acoustic music, I think this is all quite nice. But I am not sure why you would want to release this as a audio CD and not as a DVD? (FdW)
Address: http://www.balloonnneedle.com

KAMIL KOWALCZYK – NOVA (CDR by Prototyp Records)
A new release for Polish born, but currently residing in Edinburgh electronic musician Kamil Kowalczyk and like on ‘Aurora’ (see Vital Weekly 770) information is quite sparse and like that, this one seems to be tapping into the same cosmic field. The difference is that as opposed to two longer pieces, the pieces here are much shorter, but still have sufficient length to tell a cosmic story. That’s perhaps the other thing that is a common factor for both releases, that the ‘mood’ level is quite high, but on ‘Nova’ it is also developed further, explored deeper. The nine pieces here, spanning some seventy minutes explore the nature of pulsars, cosmic debris and black holes, through the paths of cosmic music, and with it’s radio voices (in one case I think I heard the same as one on ‘Patashnik’ by Biosphere, but I might be wrong), it has that S.E.T.I. approach, the quasi scientific talk. Like with the previous release, I’d say all of this is fairly common ambient music, but Kowalczyk does a fine job in creating it. Nothing new or groundbreaking, but it sounds excellent. With the grey, snowy weather of the last weeks, this is a perfectly fitting soundtrack for short dark days, and long darker evenings. In these pieces Kowalczyk matured his debut, expanded on the ambient themes and developed his techniques to create more interesting pieces. A fine move forward. (FdW)
Address: http://prototyproduktionsltd.net/

ROTATION: A DARK AMBIENT/EXPERIMENTAL COMPILATION (CDR by Uncoild Loops/Facility Records)
Here’s a bit of mystery. Two labels joining hands to release a CDR compilation of dark ambient music. Why would you want to do that, I was thinking. Of the ten participating bands there are only two whose names I recognize (which proofs once again the musical world is indeed an infinite universe), being Controlled Bleeding and Dead Voices On Air, and only the latter offers an unreleased piece. Seven of the ten pieces are unreleased, which brings us perhaps to another mystery. Why would you want to re-release tracks by these unknown acts, why not all new? All that aside, this compilation lives up to it’s name of a dark ambient one, more perhaps than an experimental one. Deep synth rumble, the lower end of the keyboard pressed with the infinite settings of attack/decay/sustain/release/ all the way up and on top an occasional extra instrument, such as the piano of both Chvad SB and Dead Voices On Air. Most of these pieces are pretty long, with ‘The Poisoner (Part 2, excerpt)’ by Controlled Bleeding the longest. All of the small differences of the world of ambient drops by, from plain drone to cosmic music, from carefully lulling sounds and more harsher textures, and even dashes of rhythm by Saemskin. Field recordings seem absent, oddly enough, except perhaps in the piece by Secant Prime. We also have music by Ateis, Roth Mobot, Words On Water, Ambient Mechanics and Herwig Holzmann. The 2013 version of the ‘Isolationism’ and ‘Endless’ compilations of the 90s? Perhaps indeed, but also perhaps not the most original release of the week, despite the quality of the music. (FdW)
Address: http://uncoiledloops.com/ http://facility-records.com/

25YM – THE ORIGINALS (CDR compilation by Motok)
25YM – THE REMIXES (CDR compilation by Motok)
E.M.M. – CYGNUS (CDR by Motok)
Following the recent release of his ‘Elektrik Underground 2012′ compilation, Nico Selen realized his label Motok exists twenty-five years. It was the follow-up of his rather short lived Sun Sound Systems and the more well-known New Bulwark Records & Tapes. In the first twenty years more music was produced than released, but in the last five years a steady stream of CDR, lathe cut and vinyl was released, and a lot of it played by Nico Selen himself, in his various guises. Here we have two strictly limited CDR releases (thirteen copies only, and about three are for sale, would you believe that) which span on one disc ‘the originals’ and on the other ‘the remixes’. I am not sure if they were all released before, on both accounts, even when the cover indicates they are. Problem with Nico Selen is often that keeps reworking his pieces and they appear in new configurations in sometimes the smallest editions. Here we all of his monikers, E.M.M., O.R.D.U.C., NoNotes, The Bearcage, Ooy & Ilo, Nico & Onno and even Mac Music Machine, which I am not sure I heard before. Fine melodic and electronic music, sometimes quite poppy, sometimes leaning towards cosmos and ambience and on few occasions more experimental, but that doesn’t seem to be Selen’s main concern.
Although in his E.M.M. project he gets out the most to the world of experiments. On his third album as E.M.M., recorded in little over a week (last week actually), he portrays stars from the constellation Cygnus. Although Selen is the man who bought Tangerine Dream records when they were first released in the 70s, and many of his instruments should suggest he can do the same thing, his E.M.M. sounds not like the cosmic masters that much. Here his music is all derived from electronic sources, but it sounds much more experimental than we should expect. Minimal, obviously, each of the nine pieces move only slowly forward, and some seem even to be just a few loops of sound, a couple of locked down sound effects. A desolate atmosphere is what is to be found in these pieces, the sort of without-air atmosphere which is what the cosmos is all about. Selen moves back and forth between the more drone like atmospheres and looped, rhythmic sounds. All of this is indeed quite abstract to say the least, and doesn’t correspond with the free flow arpeggio one more commonly finds in the areas of cosmic music. That’s what made me especially like this. It stays off the well walked paths and in stead offers something new. (FdW)
Address: http://www.motok.org

OPHION – SACROSANCT (CDR by Twice Removed)
EASYCHORD – SO LIFELESS, SOMETIMES (CDR by Twice Removed)
ANONYMEYE – SIX IMPROVISATIONS FOR COMPUTER AND GUITAR (3″CDR by Twice Removed)
Another new label for me and two out of three are new names. Ophion is a duo from the UK, who had their debut release on Diametric and that’s about all we know. I have no idea what they are using, sound wise or other wise, but me thinks there is a fair amount of guitars, synthesizers, lots of electronics, voices (? indeed!) and maybe a bit of field recordings. Here we have eight pieces all somewhere between seven and thirteen minutes filled with some nice, dark atmospheric music. I know what I just wrote about Somnambulance, and a lot of that goes actually also for this music. It’s great music, and perhaps you’d never heard any dark atmospheric music – you never know – but this seems to tapping into the same template we already know so well. This goes back to the old discussion: what do we want? Do we want something we know and like, or do we want something new? Maybe I am about to want something new, maybe it’s the whole thing that I hear so much of this dark ambient atmospheric music that seems interchangeable, that it is perhaps a bit too much at times.
To go from there to a release that is called ‘So Lifeless, Sometimes’ is perhaps not the brightest idea. Easychord is the nom de plume by Roberto Pizzichetta from Italy, who has released on labels like Laverna, Heart & Soul and Dark Era Tapes. It is, I am perhaps (!) sad to say, more of the same. Here it takes the long form, two pieces that clock in at some eighteen/nineteen minutes of endless sustaining, droney ambient music. As always with this, with Ophion, with Somnambulance, the difference is in the icing on the cake. Superficially this is all ambient music, all a bit dreamy, a bit cosmic, or whatever you want to call (don’t be afraid), but sometimes there is a bit more variation in the sound sources and sometimes it’s about pressing down the right keys and let them sustain for a while. ‘Listening to the sea’ a sound guy at a festival for experimental music once called it, ‘are we listening to the sea again, today’. It sounds more negative than it was actually intended, he liked working there. Of all these releases, I think the one by Easychord is the one that I like most. Perhaps because it was all so easychord? This one could lull me to sleep indeed.
The only name I did recognize was Andrew Tuttle’s Anonymeye project, whom I saw live many years ago. Back in Vital Weekly 793 I quite enjoyed his release on Someone Good, which was a more complex album than this 3″CDR. On that album he played all sorts of instruments, and arrived at some nice sort of pop music with many small variations. Here it’s all about guitar and computer, and I assume it’s in that order. Tuttle recorded some of his guitar playing and then switched on the computer to do some of that transformation. The sound of the guitar is never far away, and we hear some of the fingerpicking of Tuttle, being nicely (in a limited way) stretched out a bit, adding some harmonic scales on them and all that sort of treatments that computers sometimes seem to have. Now this should indeed drag me out of any depression I may feel. Here too we have ambient inspired music, but the pieces are all sort and to the point, guitar is nicely recognizable and almost sunny. Let springtime come!
Address: http://www.twiceremovedblogspot.com

STUART CHALMERS – DAYDREAM EMPIRE (CDR by LF Records)
SETH COOKE – PNEUMA (CDR by LF Records)
SINDRE BJERGA – BLACK PAPER WINGS (3″CDR by LF Records)
Three releases on the Bristol (UK) label LF Records, and first of is Stuart Chalmers, of whom we already reviewed music in the past (see Vital Weekly 758, 764 and 818). His music is derived from improvisation using cassette tapes, pedals, radio, synths, field recordings, contact microphones and percussion. Here he has eleven pieces created in the summer of 2011, which he edited afterwards, which I think is a good thing. Editing means going over your recordings, cut out sections that don’t work, or emphasize some parts. It makes your pieces shorter, no doubt, but also stronger, I should think. In this new lot he seems to be moving away from the noise of before, and reaches for a sound that is much more open, nice, collage like. Noise to some no doubt, but at least there is some thought in these pieces. They have a plunderphonic quality, perhaps due to the fact that he uses a multitude of found voices. It all has that lo-fi quality that so much of this kind of electro-acoustic improvisation has, but it seems to fit the music quite well, I think. I think Chalmers made quite a leap forward in his approach to what he does. Again a fine mixture of noise, musique concrete, ambient and radiophonica, but then also resulting in a bunch of nice, short compositions.
Even less information can be found on the release by Seth Cooke. Just his name and the title and the catalogue number. According to the label’s website, Cooke is one of the “the lead organizers of the Bang The Bore collective/magazine, as a killer skins man for Bristol/Southhampton noise thuggee unit Hunting Lodge (I assume a different one than the previous industrial music group of the 80s – fdw), as a glossolalic gun for Northern weird jammer groups like A Band and Ashtray Navigations, as the hammer man for mondo duo Defibrillators”. In his own words he explains what this release is about and it’s too funny not to quote in its entire form: “Workmen spent eighteen months renovating the basement flat beneath our home in Leeds. During that time they made a hell of a racket (I could stomach the tools; less so the shouting); managed to both flood the basement flat and spin it into a racial tirade against the owner of the outlet that sold them the part; urinate in our garden, in broad daylight, despite the working toilet they’d installed; block our driveway; and blame the global financial crisis exclusively on Jewish bankers. Pneuma is my attempt to alchemically transmute the experience into gold, of a sort – the pneumatic drill featured throughout was recorded during the ordeal.” I can perfectly relate to that. Take the sound of something that annoys you and use it for your own good, your own music. I had workman around the house years ago, and taped some of their annoying sounds and melted them, as to destroy their presence, to make them my own. Cooke created two quite different pieces, although they might be quite similar too, whereas the first might be an extended version of the second. In the second we hear the drill (dugga dugga) which is layered occasionally, and has a mild form of echo. It’s a nice piece but perhaps at twenty-eight minutes a bit long – although not as long as eighteen months – whereas in the first piece the layering is to such an extend so that we don’t hear the drill anymore. Here has becomes a mass of gentle sounds, almost like a tour de force ambient piece. The enemy has been truly conquered.
On a smaller size we find Sindre Bjerga with one of his many live recordings from last year. It seems as these days he only releases live recordings. Armed with what I assume is more or less the same equipment as always, Bjerga plays variations of his own pieces. There is an amount of lo-fi feedback drones here, rumble of acoustic objects, microphone abuse (voices!), dictaphone talking and other sounds, all derived from similar cheap equipment. But Bjerga surely knows how to craft a fine piece with such equipment and this one is no different (although perhaps one could perceive that as a ‘problem’ – no changes). It’s not a classic Bjerga release, but it surely ranks with the best of his recent works. (FdW)
Address: http://lfrecords.autmusic.com/

LINDA O’KEEFE & SLAVEK KWI – COLLABORATION 2009-2012 (3″CDR by Tentacles Of Perception Recordings)
To rewrite the complex method which was used to create the music on this release would be a bit too much. But it started out with a thirty second piece, expanded into ten minutes of transformations, and then ’30 minutes of potential space’, which means those sounds were to be played back in that space. And then of course editing. All in all something that took three years, which is hard to hear, I was thinking. This could as easily be made in a matter of days – which is no qualification of any kind, really. Great things can occur quickly, slowness is not always a recipe for something great. If you are familiar with the work of Slawek Kwi, and since he’s a regular guest in Vital Weekly there is no reason why you shouldn’t. He uses computer treatments on field recordings and sometimes uses them without any transformations and he overlays them, so that he can creatively mix them together. On this 3″CDR there is one final mix by O’Keefe and one by Kwi, and it’s hard to hear the difference between the two. Extended computer processing, stretched out sounds, microscopic changes and pure field recordings are used here and make two interesting pieces, which flow into each other in quite a natural way. Maybe O’Keefe uses a bit more loops in her work? I am not sure. A fine disc, perhaps a bit too short for a three year collaborational process? (FdW)
Address: http://www.artificialmemorytrace.com

MAS AYA – POCKETS (cassette by Tomaturj)
World music is something that doesn’t make it to these pages a lot. For good reason: I don’t think we are hardly experts here. Brandon Valdivia works as Mas Aya (menaing ‘the beyond’, but could also refer to Masaya, the town in Nicaragua). He’s also a member of Picastro, Not The Wind Not The Flag and Pachamama. ‘Pockets’ is his first release as Mas Aya, in which he fuses traditional instruments and music with electronics. Sometimes his thumb piano’s and mbira sound with all their amplification like Konono No. 1, but not always with the same great groove to it. The music of Mas Aya works best, for me that is, when the balance instruments/electronics is in favor of instruments. The use of electronics is sometimes exaggerated and is too much. But when the flutes and percussion are more up there, and the electronics down there, it works quite well. You have the idea of world music, but it doesn’t seem to be played in a very traditional sense. That is to say, as far as I can judge these matters. I thought this was all a pretty original music release, something that is unheard of in this particular corner of my private musical world, and something that had both experiment and tradition etched into it. Nice! (FdW)
Address: http://www.tomaturj.com/

NATHAN VENTURA – LOVE SONGS (cassette, private)
Along with this came a note saying there are fifty copies of this release, and that Ventura doesn’t play out too often, ‘so reviews are one of the best ways for me to get some music out there’. It’s not something I always consider, but of course it’s true. Getting your music reviewed is a way of getting your name out. I have no idea if there are many publications, online or paper, actually who review cassettes, but of course we do. Always did, since our first paper issue back in 1986. But as Ventura says, the tape is ‘pretty diverse spanning many genres’, which is not something I necessarily with. There aren’t that many genres on this tape. Ventura plays guitar, sings and there is throughout a strong sense that screams ‘outsider’ here. But perhaps I am a suspicious mind and never know with these crazy people if they are really crazy, or wether this all carefully planned. Sometimes I assume the latter, such as in this case. The way Ventura plays his guitar freely says ‘I know how, but I rather not show off too much’. Its a kind of demented rock music, with primitive samples for percussion, false singing, direct recording without much touching up of recordings. Lo-fi outsider rock? Yeah sure, why not? Not entirely my cup of tea, but give it a spin, if this is your thing. (FdW)
Address: http://nathanventura.bandcamp.com

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