UBEBOET – HAEREO (CD by Mystery Sea) *
ASMUS TIETCHENS – FAHL (miniCD by Farmacia901) *
EMBERS – KOUT EP (12″ + CD by Enfant Terrible)
RUDOLF EB.ER – T.H.I.E.R. (CDR by Under The Temple) *
JAMES MURRAY – LOSS (CDR by Eilean Records) *
BAO+ – LIVE AT CAFE OTO (CDR by Kukuruku) *
OAK BIRCHES (CDR by Kukuruku) *
ISOBEL CCIRCLE – THE HOUSE IN HARBOUR PARK (cassette by Auditory Field Theory)
COLD LIFE (cassette by Trap Door Tapes)
MIDORI HIRANO – AND I AM HERE (cassette by Staaltape)

Vital Weekly #967 by Vitalweekly on Mixcloud

tracklist for Vital Weekly 967:

0000 Tune
0014 Beequeen – Olivier Lover
0330 Melanchoholics – Minus 1 One
0636 James Murray – Loss
0940 Ubeboet – Umbrae
1244 Asmus Tietchens – L1ORC
1549 Yiorgis Sakellariou
1853 Oak Birches
2158 Luigi Archetti
2505 Adam Bohman & Tasos Stamou
2801 Martijn Pieck
3105 Bao+ – One Long Goodbye
3414 Rudolf – T.H.I.E.R. 21
3732 Tune

With an output of over 20 full-length albums since the late 80s, Beequeen does not require much introduction I reckon. This trio continues their typical combination of traditional song-writing, ambient and experimental electronics on their new album “Around Midnight”, out on Catsun, which seems to indicate a departure from their former home, Important records. Most of the tracks are soothing, late night lullabies with the occasional soundscape, ambient tapestry and trippy rhythmic bit. Notable to me were “the Bookcatcher’s song” which has that hazy city lights brass sound which reminded me vaguely of the more ambient works of Nils Petter Molvær, “The Song of The Runaway Singer” which indeed could be the soundtrack of some kind of chase with an eerie and unworldly touch to it, and “My Sleeper” which has a 1920s chanson vibe going on that includes the appearance of a moody muted trumpet and lo-fi vocal treatment. Overall, the album seems to darken up a bit after the first couple of tracks, to return to a more mellow ambience – akin to the way it sets out, near the end. From time to time it made me think of Use of Ashes for some reason, until I saw that Peter van Vliet had actually contributed to the album – apart from doing a proper engineering and production job on the whole thing. Recommended background for a cosy nocturnal get-together, or a decent listen at twilight with a bottle of one thing or another. (PJN)

More and more Yiorgis Sakellariou works under his own name and no longer as Mecha/orga: a development we see with more serious composers coming from the ‘industrial’ music end (a term to be regarded in the broadest sense possible). Sakellariou is from Greece, but lived in Klaipeda (Lithuania) for some time, a few years ago, and now is residing in London. Between September 2011 and July 2012 he recorded sounds in and around Klaipeda and these are used in the two pieces that are on this CD. I have not been to Klaipeda, but to Lithuania and some of that cold, rural, wood country is something that is easily seen in these pieces, along with the harbor/sea side of the city. Sakellariou taped some motorized events (ships no doubt, but maybe also chainsaws in the forest?) so that he can add a fine drone-like layer to the music, especially in the second piece/part. One of the fine powers of Sakellariou’s music is that one never knows what he does, exactly, to his sound material. Is it just a collage of sound? Does he layer all his sounds in some way? Is there any sort of treatment that he applies to this? It’s not for me to say what he does: I really don’t know (never asked him, I guess). I do know it results in some excellent music that is entirely based on field recordings; imaginative music that opens up a fine sound world and shows us the somewhat desolate world of Lithuanian woods and seaside. Maybe a bit cold, but perhaps that’s just an illusion. (FdW)

This is the second release by Luigi Archetti on the Domizil label; he also had releases on Die Schachtel and Unit Records. His primary instrument is the guitar and it is so for a long time, since 1978, but since some time he explores other sound worlds. Maybe the guitar is somewhere on the ‘input’ side of things, but if that is so, we don’t recognize it as such anymore. Well, maybe we do, but maybe it’s because we think to hear such a thing, somewhere. In a way one could say that the work of Archetti has moved more and more towards the electro-acoustic music, sampling (perhaps?) his guitar and presenting them in these three long pieces. Slowing it down, placing echo and reverb here and there and adding different kinds of effects to that process. The three pieces here are not much different than what he presented on ‘Null II & Null III’ (see Vital Weekly 819): a strong isolationist sound. Closed off from the world with deep bass rumble, the occasional thump here and there and drones that dissolve into thin air, all of which is done using a considerable length. I wrote before I am not always blown away by his music; I can hear it’s made with great care but perhaps it reminds me from time to time of some many others things I heard since the time people started to use the term isolationist music. Archetti does that kind of thing very well, but he’s not on par with say Main in the mid to late 90s. Sometimes it floats to carefree about and there seems to be no real tension for me, but then sometimes he knows how to do it really well; all of this happens with the second part of this release, the longest piece of this release. Some of the previous releases were a bit long, double or triple releases, but this one, a single disc, is a much better length to keep one fully interested. (FdW)

UBEBOET – HAEREO (CD by Mystery Sea)
Miguel Angel Tolosa works as Ubeboet since quite some time and has as such a number of releases, although the word ‘overproduction’ certainly doesn’t apply to him. The cover says he worked on this from 2008 until 2012 and that he takes credit for electronics and field recordings; the latter being taped in Prague, Madrid, Lozoya valley area (Spain), Aguilar de Campoo area (Spain) and Serra San Bruno (Italy), while Ingar Zach plays bowed singing bowls on one piece. What’s interesting to note is that in the first piece, ‘Eaden’, there are indeed quite some field recordings, but all of birds and insects, rather than what we are used to with this label, which is all things aquatic. In ‘Umbrae’ the microphone is thrown into the deep end and picks up signal below sea-level, along with Zach’s bowed singing bowls. Below and above sea-level is where we find ‘Sanatorium Rose’, the final and longest piece on this release (which is about thirty-six minutes in total length), but there is also the motor-hum from a boat passing as drone music. In all three pieces we find Ubeboet’s strong love of all things very dark. Much of the way he processes his sounds is to melt these field recordings by computer means and maybe all things analogue (either, or) and filter out much of the mid-high end until the darker rumble remains. In that way, Ubeboet surely has a strong own voice compared to his peers, which is a great thing and he shows it best in a release like this. (FdW)

It’s been a long, long time since I reviewed ‘A Single Act Of Carelessness’ by the German band Melanchoholics (see Vital Weekly 530). This trio was Benedikt on guitars, Philip on bass and Lutz on electronics; was, because the band no longer exists, so it seems, following the passing of Benedikt Bjarnason a few years ago. The music on ‘Solar Cafe’ was recorded from 2006 to 2010 and then it took some more time to finish the release. But the result is certainly great. With their previous release I compared it with the old ambient industrial music that was en vogue in the late 80s, when bands started to play guitars with cello bows, adding bits of conversations, made it all more atmospheric, but at the same time also with that dark, noisy undercurrent never far away. Music like passing dark clouds over an abandoned industrial lot, but Melanchoholics add more spacious guitars to the recipe, owing a bit to the world of post-rock. In ‘Presence of Absence’ they depict with the guitars vast open territories while the steady slow beat is like an oilrig. Get my drift? It’s music that I quite like actually. It’s both abstract and musical; it’s both atmospheric and noisy – from time to time. It has that great cinematic quality to it. It’s experimental music just the way I like it; like very much, actually. Perhaps one could argue there is not a lot of difference between this and the previous release, but with such as small output: who cares? One could care however about the fact that this band is no more and the musical development has come to an end. That’s perhaps the saddest conclusion one could draw from this release. Sad but beautiful that’s how it ends here with the final piece, ‘Minus 1 One’. (FdW)

Here we have a small art project, combining art and music together. It’s an exchange of sound and visuals. We have the music of one Martijn Pieck, of whom I don’t think heard before, and who took pictures and field recordings from suburbs and those pictures became the scores for his compositions; visual artists respond to the music. Their five visual works are printed on some great quality card, which come with a description of the piece on the other side. Maybe it’s all a bit complicated, but it works well as a gesamtkunstwerk. At Vital Weekly we are mainly concerned with music of course, although these five visual works looks actually great (as well as quite diverse). Sound and images deal with the ‘spatial quality of sound and image’. The music indeed has some of this spatial character. One can choose to play this very loud – which I usually don’t do – and you’ll fine your space be overflown with sound information; it works better, I think, if one plays this at a more average volume and let the sound flow more naturally through your own space. Pieck offers a variation on the themes ‘microsound’ and ‘drone’, both guided by the word ‘dark’. It’s not as musique concrete like as the work of say Marc Beherens or Roel Meelkop and not as drone like as say Machinefabriek or Machinist (whose Zeno van den Broek is actually one of the participating visual artists). In the fourth piece there is the sound of piano, which may be the first instrument we recognize in this otherwise highly abstract sound world. All of the field recordings are effectively melted down into continuous loops of sounds, constructed into five pieces of excellent atmospheric music. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to think that the suburbs are a dark place, but whatever: this is an excellent set of sound pieces, and an excellent set of visuals, all presented in very high quality and limited to 200 copies only. (FdW)

ASMUS TIETCHENS – FAHL (miniCD by Farmacia901)
A while ago I was playing, whenever time allowed me, all CDs that I have, and usually I would start with an artist and go through his entire body of work. It took me some time to go through all the releases by Asmus Tietchens, but I was enjoying the consistent high quality of his work a lot. Whether it was his earliest synth records, the orchestra of ‘Marches Funebres’, the electro-acoustics of many others, or the highly reduced music of his ‘menge’ series. For this mini release he writes that these ‘are the results of a never ending recycling (not remixing!) of one and the same structure recorded deep in the past’ and that it comes to an end now; temporarily. There is already so much music and with the current tools we could keep on recycling these ad infinitum. Now, one could think I am some sort of expert on the work of Tietchens but having heard a lot of it, not necessarily equals me being an expert, I would think. I can divide his music in various fields of interest, but would find it difficult to recognize ‘alpha menge’ from ‘delta menge’. Hence, I wouldn’t know what is being recycled here; part of his trick is that Asmus knows how to radically alter something and we no longer have an idea what it is. It sounds very sparse, these three pieces, and could be something from the ‘menge’ series, but perhaps something entirely else, from another entirely different time and other field of interest. Tietchens keeps these three pieces very sparse with lots of room between the sounds and a very faint hum at the bottom. That’s perhaps what made me think this is along the lines of the ‘menge’ series. Perhaps as such this holds not much surprise, unlike say his ‘Fast Ohne Title, Korrosion’ (see Vital Weekly 907); maybe we should understand this temporary end to this particular recycling as setting out a new course, started on that ‘Fast Ohne Title, Korrosion’ release? The future will tell. This particular Tietchens was good enough for the true fan I am, but like I said, no real surprise. (FdW)

Over the course of many years I have been enjoying the music from David Maranha a lot. First when he was playing with Osso Exotico, a group with among others his brother Andre, and later on solo or in collaboration with others. One could easily say, with any exaggeration, that Maranha represents minimal music in Portugal, more so than say Rafael Toral who is more the ‘drone’ master (before he started being interested in jazz). Here he teams up with Helena Espvall from Sweden, who lives in Philadelphia, where she is part of the psychedelic and free-folk scene. In 2006 they met for the first time, when Espvall played in Lisbon and since Espvall lives in that city for two years it’s only natural they would work together. There are three instruments on this record: Espvall’s amplified cello and Maranha playing electric organ and amplified violin. The music reminds the more informed listener of the drone/noise/minimalism of the sixties; think Tony Conrad (especially him) or a heavily amplified and drugged out LaMonte Young or maybe The Velvet Underground in their normal habitat, less any drums. It’s busy as hell, with these loud, repetitive moves that sound like a menace and it’s nowhere mechanical. This is a heavy record, I must say. It’s not for the weak of hearth and mind: it goes right into your brain and sticks like thick knitting needle; it goes under your skin and never leaves. This is not the kind of drone aiming to please the listener, but make him sit upright and listens carefully. Play loud is not something I would say easily, but in this case: yes, absolutely play very loud and don’t engage yourself in any other activity, other than listening and be fully immersed. (FdW)

EMBERS – KOUT EP (12″ + CD by Enfant Terrible)
Flemish two-piece Embers has a lot going on their Kout EP. Post-industrial loops combined with ritual or even martial percussion, cabaret folk guitar riffing, repetitive vocals – in Flemish mind you. Yes, as the description provided by the label mentions, indeed somewhat reminiscent of early Nový Sv?t, but to my ears this could have been a continental descendant of This Heat’s “Deceit” just as much. In specific, Ertefretter moves away from the folky business and slides down into the murk gutter of heavy, experimental post-punk, not unlike early Young Gods, but retains cabaret-like atmosphere all the way, in the vein of what the arty bunch of Un Département and Clair Obscur did in the late 70s / early 80s.
Still, Kout is NOT a hodgepodge of a couple of interesting elements taken from cold war avant-garde and industrial music lumped together with that sound with which the Italian-based Punch labels had us mesmerized for a while. No sir, Kout is actually very well composed, fresh and unpredictable at each turn. This might sound as if the EP is kind of all over the place, but even though it is quite eclectic in its movements, it still manages to retain a distinct and authentic style… albeit it one way out there in dadaland of which the likes I have hardly ever come across. To me it’s definitely one of the best things to be released by Enfant Terrible. Ever. (PJN)

A few months ago I wrote an article on Enka music for UK-based Record Collector Magazine. To explain Enka in a few words is nigh-on impossible, so I’ll refer to the introduction of said article here (***). Enka music, okay I’ll describe it as ‘Japanese desperate blues’ but that’s hardly covering it, is still very popular in Japan these days, and not only in Tokyo’s karaoke bars. The enduring popularity has resulted in a series of 10 inches on the French label An’archives offering current avant-garde/experimental/noise artist a chance to record their take on Enka. The first album was released in 2014 and featured Jojo Hiroshige and Shiraishi Tamio. Now we have the second album and what a beauty she is! A Qui Avec Gabriel, who is on side A, is a Japanese accordionist and singer, trying the piano on his album for the first time. She now has five albums available, with her first one Utshuho released on John Zorn’s Tzadik label and two albums in collaboration with Kawabata Makoto, that hyper-active masturbatory guitarist. On her side of this album there is luckily not a guitar in sight: just a piano and soft singing on three simply gorgeous folky/minimal songs. There’s melancholy, there is despair, and there is Enka. Beautiful. Tori Kudo has been around for a much longer time, releasing one of my all-time favorite albums “Tenno” with his spouse Reiko Kudo under the banner “Noise” in 1980. If you don’t have that album, stop reading now and order is from the Internet. I’m not kidding; it’s a brilliant album. Also highly recommended is Kudo’s work with Maher Shalal Hash Baz. On this album he recorded himself crooning Enka covers in a karaoke bar with friends present. It’s a very strange recording: the concept shouldn’t work really, but it does. The recording was made on Kudo’s smartphone and his three tracks sound spacious and intimate and well, downright strange. As a tribute to Enka music, this is a wonderful little item. Musically it stands up well in the wash of noisy, marketed and at times totally irrelevant music of today. Only 210 copies were pressed of this little beauty. Don’t let them get away! (FK)

RUDOLF EB.ER – T.H.I.E.R. (CDR by Under The Temple)
In the next few months Rudolf will be on tour in Europe and according to his bandcamp this particular release is for sale on the road. The cover that these are ‘electronics and field recordings’ by and that ‘T.H.I.E.R. rituals was recorded in or around Rudolf’s house in Osaka’, except for one in Switzerland, in his basement, in 1976. Much like his recent overview double CD compilation works here with some palette of sounds, both from field recordings as well as electronics. Like in so much of his work everything appears to be direct in your face: it’s very loud, noisy, perhaps but not noise in the ‘classical’ sense of the word (industrial, power electronics). Whatever he records, he amplifies or simply makes louder by computer means. It’s less based on the methods of cut ‘n paste and more on the ongoing, looped sounds, just as on the previous release. I must admit I enjoy both ends to his work. The acoustic noise of the field recordings found around the house added (aided even?) by some of the harsher electrical, bad wiring of sockets in the wall make this a highly enjoyable release. The ‘ritual’ component is perhaps a bit lost on me, but for all I know it means that this was recorded in real time? And the recording is the ritual? Perhaps it’s that. Otherwise this seems pretty far from anything ritualistik. A great release: one to play very loud and be immersed by. (FdW)

JAMES MURRAY – LOSS (CDR by Eilean Records)
Despite various releases on Hibernate, Lost Tribe Sound, Ultimae Records, Psychonavigation Records, I only heard of James Murray when I reviewed his ‘Mount View’ release in Vital Weekly 933. Here’s a new release of drone-based music. To that end he used four pieces of equipment, we read on the cover: Roland D-110, TC Electronic G-Sharp, Zoom RFX- 2000 and Korg MicroKontrol and all of this was recorded live, without any editing (I never know what that adds, information wise; is it a show-off: look how great I am at doing this stuff in real-time? Or maybe it’s more a zen-like approach: do not touch again once you did it?). Six lengthy pieces, totaling over an hour of music, and like the title probably suggests it’s about sadness and losing. All of this is at the deeper end of drones, all quite dark (grey, black), and without any fast changes or rapid movements. If I was cynical I could say: with such slow development in the music it’s not difficult to record this live without any editing. I won’t say that, because I think it’s the more zen-like approach that Murray takes towards his music. It’s music that very much fits the day after Blue Monday (which I never knew existed until two years ago; probably another marketing hype to sell feel good/feel better bullshit). Not that I regard January the most depressing month of the year, but it’s still greyish weather, cold, early darkness, short days and the music that Murray plays fits very much such a day. Music that is dark, moody and without too much changes; music that you can easily have on repeat all day and every time the last (title-) track comes up you have the suggestion that spring is coming: it has a warm organ sound that reflects hope rather than loss. (FdW)

BAO+ – LIVE AT CAFE OTO (CDR by Kukuruku)
OAK BIRCHES (CDR by Kukuruku)
It seems it might have been since Vital Weekly 823 that we did hear from Kukuruku, a label founded by Tasos Stamou, but apparently the label still exists, as these three new releases proof. The name of the label is explained on the website: “kukuruku: Originally a sweet snack popular to the youngsters during the ‘80s, the word is a term of the Greek slang that is often used to describe something odd or irrational, a matter of irrelevance, also to depict a spontaneous or an absolutely crazy behavior.” The latter two characterizations tell us, perhaps, something about the nature of the label. The first release I played was by the label boss himself, but perhaps because I’ve met Adam Bohman a couple of times, it made for the most sense to start here. Bohman plays prepared violin and balalaika and amplified objects and Stamou ‘sampling keyboard, prepared zither, violin, circuit bent electronics’; much lo-fi electronics and junk, maybe as you would find such things on a car boot sales. Some of these pieces are recorded in concert, but with the highly improvised nature that’s not really to be noted that some are recorded in concert and others in a studio setting. Their music results in very hectic and nervous, chaotic sound; like the label says: almost like many people walking and talking during a car boot sales. In the beginning one could think Bohman has the upper hand in these improvisations but towards the end I think there is more balance between the two players. Odd concrete sounds bounce and rub against each other, attract and oppose each other and fits very much whatever else Bohman has been doing in his life. Excellent release.
Behind Bao+ we find a quartet of players: Mazen Kerbaj (trumpet), Charbel Haber (electric guitar), Sharif Sehnaoui (electric guitar) and Eddie Prevost (percussion). On October 13, 2013, they performed at Cafe Oto in London, a piece called ‘One Long Goodbye’, which lasts thirty-eight minutes. This is perhaps improvised music from a more regular field. If Bohman/Stamou are the enfant terrible of free improvised music with their ‘musica povera’, plus on low equipment, this release is more ‘traditionally’ improvised. Each of the players knows how that works: keep an open mind, do nothing at times, listen and respond. At such they all do a great job here. Within the length of this release they take the listener on a spacious journey, bowing strings and cymbals, mild trumpet abuse, free rock/free noise bit and everything in between. It is a fine release, but it’s perhaps also a not so remarkable one. Expectations are fulfilled, not shattered. Which of course is not a bad thing per se.
No information on Oak Birches. Maybe that’s the title, maybe the name of the band (there was nothing yet on the website), which could be a trio of Arnas Mikalkenas, Tomas Razmus and Nerijus Ardzevicius. No instruments specified on the cover. I believe to hear percussion and wind instruments, maybe a shruti box or accordion; violin or cello? All of which seem to be acoustic in nature. Whereas Bao+ had something loud and electrical, maybe even ‘rock’ like, this is not the case here, even when Oak Birches can get pretty mean and loud, such as in the third piece. Of the three releases this is the one that came closest to the world of (free-)jazz I think and was, perhaps for that reason, the one that was least appealing to me. The more quiet opening and closing piece, as well as the orchestral second piece where the ones I liked best; luckily for me this was the majority of the release. (FdW)

ISOBEL CCIRCLE – THE HOUSE IN HARBOUR PARK (cassette by Auditory Field Theory)
You could, perhaps all too easily, think that Isobel Ccircle is a person, but in fact it’s a “Lousianian/Lancastrian” duo, consisting of April Larson and Matt Bower, and apparently there have been releases before; I don’t think I heard those releases and this might be my first introduction. The labels says about this new release “Inspired by the personal journals of Detective J.H. which chart his investigation into the mysterious events that took place in The House In Harbour Park, Isobel Ccircle~’s album is part Clem Snide investigation and part X File, painting a haunting and often terrifying picture full of strange occurrences and unworldly rituals.” Just recently I watched the complete X-Files for the first time in my life, so I am still in the mood for that, I guess, and sure, this music has indeed some haunted house qualities – or perhaps these are just very obvious qualities. Either way. It’s not easy to say what they are doing, music wise, and nothing as such is mentioned on the cover, but I would think that there is a bunch of synthesizers, sound effects and samplers at work here to generate some highly dark and atmospheric music, but not without any melodic or musical traces, which makes it not only less abstract, but also add that cinema/soundtrack like quality to it. There is a pleasant ghostly transmission going on here. I could try to think of a witty Mulder (Fox, not Dolf) quote, but I didn’t go that length. I want to believe this is a great release. Would that do? But I already know that so the truth is not out there (alright, stop it). Fine release. No track titles, just images. That is also something I appreciate a lot. (FdW)

COLD LIFE (cassette by Trap Door Tapes)
The Trap Door Tapes label always deliver very obscure tapes; maybe in that respect this one has a lot of information: ‘recorded and mixed by Brent Stegeman’ it says on the cover, along with the track titles and the band name (I assume), Cold Life. I have no idea who he is or what else he did, but it sounds pretty much all right. It’s the sort of industrial music that fits very well with the world of cassettes. Industrialized rhythm machines, a dark synth, some shouting and a bass guitar. Rhythm and noise, but all the time it’s about a song and not just about a rhythm and a noise. It’s all produced in a rough and punky way, and without much care for sonic detail, but that adds to the electronic punk of this. Quite spikey this release, and one that I mostly enjoyed playing loud. It would time, for the rest of the afternoon, to find a bunch of old classics on cassettes and play them as well (Tear Apart Tapes would be one place, Baader Pop Gruppe another, maybe some Alu; I am sure you have no idea what I am taking about).  Damn, if only I had the luxury of spare time that much. More please! (FdW)
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MIDORI HIRANO – AND I AM HERE (cassette by Staaltape)
The Staaltape label which is run by Rinus van Alebeek has very little to do with the label of the same name, from thirty or more years ago. Then we had professional four color printed cover, now its handmade editions of 18 copies, which is the case with Midori Hirano release (twelve of these go out to Midori, four to the Staalplaat shop and two for review, just in case you were wondering about that). For this series (this is the second in a series), Van Alebeek invites an artist “produce a number of compositions for a total of thirty minutes. My two main demands were to spread the process over a couple of months, so that the passing of time would enter the final result, and to come up with ‘songs’ in a length between forty seconds”. Midori uses here field recordings from Europe and Japan, which she uses as a backdrop to her piano playing, and that piano is a found object itself, so it detuned a lot over the years. It makes it all wonderfully poetic and intimate music. You hear some birds twitter outside and down the hall someone is playing this detuned piano. It’s a bit like one of those releases on the Japanese Flau label, but with an even more lo-fi approach when it comes to recording. Nothing about this is perfect but that’s the beauty of it. Like someone recorded this on a cassette over some time, sticking random events together. Excellent release, so let’s hope there will be a second, bigger edition. (FdW)


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