Vital Weekly 971

Marc Vernon

BARON OUFO – DAR AL-HIKMA (CD by Quadrilab) *
OFFTHESKY – LIGHT LOSS (CD by Dronarivm) *
STILLLIFE – YORU NO KATAROGU (CD by The Ethnorth Gallery) *
[REC. PHONOPHON] 5 YEAR ARCHIVE (2CD compilation by Phonophon)
SELTENE ERDEN (CD compilation by Edition Degem)
RSS BOYS – HDDN (2CD by Mik Musik) *
FREE SCHOOL – HUDSON’S WHISTLE (7″ by Static Caravan)
A.T.M.O.M. – ANDROMEDA (CD by Zhelezobeton) *
ANGST HASE PFEFFER NASE – BIDDEN (CDR by Glistening Examples) *
SWEAT TONGUE – SKENE’S GLAND (cassette by Cold Milk)

Vital Weekly #971 by Vitalweekly on Mixcloud

tracklist for Vital Weekly 971:

0000 Tune
0014 Kammerflimmer Kollektief – Zurück Zum Beton (Version)
0335 The Woodbine & Ivy Band – White Hare
0645 RSS Boys – Fylmmoosyk
0954 Expo 70 – Frozen Living Elements
1303 Jaap Blonk – Ataraxia
1610 Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase – Slugwater
1919 Umpio – Plomo
2227 Labfield – Ragged Line Reversed
2528 Rutger Zuydervelt – Sneeuwstorm
2841 Ogni Videniy
3145 Offthesky – Bloodletting
3449 Strom Noir – Neve
3755 Stillife
4100 Baron Oufo – Dhikr
4403 A.T.M.O.M. – Astroogenesis
4706 Jason Lescalleet & Justin Meyers – The White Page
5018 Rodach & Schlothauer & Weiser – Affaire D’Honneur
5325 Mark Vernon
5647 Tune

Following some hiatus in releasing records, Jaap Blonk returned some time ago, but it seems almost like another Jaap Blonk. The one we knew was a guy who did sound poetry using mostly, but not exclusively, his mouth. Mostly solo but also as an improviser with likeminded free musicians. Then a Jaap Blonk released ‘Lifespans’ on a label named Kontrans, just like the other Jaap Blonk would release on a label called Kontrans, which was sixty-six minutes of noise music, followed by ‘Polyphtong’, another computer based work using voice – something one couldn’t tell. In August last year Blonk was in Munich and recorded ‘August Ananke’, which carries as subtitle ‘eight meditations on just intonations’. It’s not said if Blonk is using his voice here, and again I can’t tell. For this particular work he uses the computer again, but it’s no longer noise, nor drone/ambient. It’s actually more like sampling instruments played with a midi keyboard. Minimalist but sounding like percussion (marimba) and string instruments. Maybe it’s actually real instruments, I was thinking, while hearing ‘Avesta’. I must admit I don’t know what to think of this. It’s not really my cup of tea, but it’s not easy to say what it is that I don’t seem to like about it. The overall tone is quite ‘light’, but also (probably) ‘meditative’, and maybe I find it hard to set myself into a meditative mood here. That’s not to say I dislike what I hear: I just have no idea what to make of this, and some of this I very much enjoyed, such as ‘Anabasis’, the longest of the eight pieces, with a nice intense rhythmic sound and drone like backing, and something similar I thought of ‘Ataraxia’; perhaps the more conventional sounding pieces were the ones that least appealed to me. Most curious release indeed. And surely another massive Blonk surprise! (FdW)

Of mice and men: working on an extensive re-release project of all Deep Freeze Mice albums, singer/guitarist/songwriter/professional wrestler (that last one is only a rumor) Alan Jenkins has released the fourth Mice album Saw A Ranch House Burning Last Night. For those unfamiliar with the Deep Freeze Mice – they were an 80s Leicester-based band who made a very successful combination of awkward yet brilliant pop featuring clever lyrics, odd phrasing and timing and downright weird experiment – often combined in a single song. Ranch House, as said, is their fourth album and finds the Mice in a transitional phase. Losing their drummer Graham Summers due to ‘creative differences’, the atmosphere in the band during the main recording session of this album had improved massively. And you can tell on the album. They also had to rely on a Simmons electronic drum kit on some of the tracks. Something you can also tell on the album. The Simmons may have been state of the art in 1983, when Ranch House was recorded, but its sound in 2015 is possibly most sympathetically described as ‘typically 80s’. This does not hamper the songs too much, but it does firmly places the Ranch House’s great pop songs – such as The New Emotional Twist, You Took The Blue One, Hitler’s Knees, The Damage and oh, I could go on and on – in that period of time. This CD version contains no less than 12 bonus tracks ranging from studio outtakes to a live performance in Leicester in 1982. Even though Summers had left the band for the main session of Ranch House, he did contribute to an earlier session, so you get to hear him of a few songs. Future Mice drummer Pete Gregory is featured on some of the bonus material. And, most importantly, there is more to this album than the music: the CD booklet is quite amazing with 20 (!) pages of background information and full color pictures. Try to find that quality and quantity in the Big Names of the current pop music industry, say U2, Justin Bieber or Coldplay. One possible explanation is their fans cannot read, another one is that they are simply not interesting enough to write about in booklets. Every Mice re-release so far has featured such a high quality booklet with interviews done by Jenkins with Mice members or, in the Ranch House’s booklet, with producer/engineer Geoff Griffith. The interviews are funny and elaborate, but also document the history of a band surviving in the margins of pop music. Being released on Jenkins’ private label Cordelia Records, this album deserves to be a best seller. Both musically as historically the Deep Freeze Mice reissues are among the best the independent music industry has to offer. And this is your last chance seeing, as Jenkins’ predicts in the booklet, these are the final reissues of the Mice’s work. Grab your copy before the Ranch House is lost in time. Essential. Really. (FK)

RareNoiseRecords is a London-based label since 2008, run by Italian musicians Eraldo Bernocchi and Giacomo Bruzzo. A label dedicated to music that crosses borders. Let’s see if this counts for these two bands. Free Nelson MandoomJazz is Rebecca Sneddon (sax), Colin Stewart (bass) and Paul Archibald  (drums). They come from Edinburgh and debuted with the double ep ‘The Shape of Doomjazz to come/Saxophone Giganticus’ (2014).  The title tells a bit of their musical doings. Doomjazz might be a fitting term to describe their music. They seek for fruitful mix of doom and sludge on the one hand and free jazz on the other hand. The free jazz component is best reflected by the nervous high energy playing by Sneddon, who plays in the Peter Brötzmann tradition. What I learn from their record is that there sure is future for this combination of free jazz and doom-rock. However on this recording it didn’t lead to very exciting music if you ask me. It never started to boil. I was desperately seeking for twists and musical ideas that would make it interesting. But alas. Spin Marvel is a project of  British drummer Martin France. Other members are Tim Harries (bass), Terje Evensen (live electronics), Nils Petter Molvaer (trumpet) plus Emre Ramazonoglu on drums in the closing track ‘Minus Two’. France once started as a member of Django Bates’ Loose Tubes. His later collaborations are too many to mention, so let us stick to his own project Spin Marvel. With his outfit he released two albums ‘Spin Marvel’(2007) and ‘The Reluctantly Politicised Mr James’(2010). No idea in what respect their new album ‘Infolding’ differs  from their earlier steps. The album counts six pieces that seem to originate from group improvisation. A rhythmic base or groove and explicit melodic lines are not what this music binds, although they are never far away. It is more about soundscapes, textures, with elements of rhythm, harmony and melody. The drumming by France is prominent and powerful, producing a-rhythmic percussive waves. Molvaer plays beautiful lines from time to time. And moments of a fantastic intensity are reached. The musical improvisations result in very open structures. A strong and clear focus is a bit missed, so that the music sometimes gets lost in the enormous special constructions that are built by these excellent players. (DM)

To put your face on the cover of your album is of course a very common thing, but just not in the world of Vital Weekly, with probably one exception: in the world of jazz this is not strange either. So when I looked at the cover of these three older gentlemen I assumed this was another product of jazz music. Looking at the line-up it might be: Micahel Rodach plays electric guitars, Burkhard Schlothauer electric violin and Andreas Weiser plays percussion and electronically processed voice. They were all born in 1957 and have earned the dues in the world of improvisation and classical music; Schlothauer is a founding member of Zeitkratzer. Within this trio they explore live sampling of their instruments. I am not sure if these days that means those loop pedals or the LiveSampling software Steim once build (or some such from Ableton live). Either way, the music they play together is hardly revolutionary, but that’s not their aim anyway. It’s their goal to play some long stretched, sustaining blocks of sound, atmospheric and drone-like. Sometimes they add a rhythm, such as on the long opening piece ‘Dresden’ or in ‘Pulse Streams’. In ‘Sand Sand Sand’ it has a jazzy touch, mainly due to the snare being played with a brush. And sometimes it stays on the more conventional (post-)rock side as in ‘Miles Groams’, which I didn’t like very much. Their drones aren’t new but at least they are good music. It’s not a great album, but it’s not bad either; I had some fine time with most of these pieces, but I am not sure if that’s enough. (FdW)

Much to my own surprise I must admit I don’t know Kammerflimmer Kollektief as well as I should. It’s been a long time since I reviewed any of their music (Vital Weekly 432 and 464, it seems). This group has a changing line-up, even when Thomas Weber is always part of it. He plays here electric guitars, devices, loops and ‘slippin’ & slidin’, as it it called on the cover. The only two other members present are Johannes Frisch (double bass & low end disasters) and Heike Aumüller (harmonium, wind, synthesizer, mouth & fury). ‘Desarroi’, which means ‘disorientation’ is their 10th album and it’s another work of improvisation. It’s however improvisation reaching out for other genres. One can recognize here, besides the more regular free improvisation, also elements from jazz, ambient, psychedelic music, film (noir) music. Sometimes very delicate, as in ‘Evol Jam (Edit)’, in which Aumüller sings for the first time or the very filmic slide guitars of ‘Saumselig’, but also chaotic and disjoined – mostly in other pieces, but never, so it seems, in an entire piece of music. In between it seems they can find ground to make it almost like a popsong, as in the third part of the title piece. Perhaps the most surprising piece is the ‘Zurück Zum Beton’, a cover from S.Y.P.H., and the forerunner of D.A.F. into a laidback jazz/pop tune. It all makes for quite a varied album, and one that I actually quite enjoyed, as opposed to the few sparse earlier works I heard by them. Quite a nice surprise this one. (FdW)

This is not a real baron, but a duo: Eddie Ladoire (moog, doepfer, korg, cosmic fx and field recording) and Jerome Alban (guitars, synths, samples and fx), plus some guest musicians Francois Robin on veuze and Mathias Delplanque on drum programming, both on one piece each. Baron Oufo is from France and the music is quite nice, even when without much surprises. The music they play has a strong sense and love for all this things atmospheric, which are generated by a wall of guitar sounds, wailing about, while the synthesizers make it all fatter in the bottom end. In ‘Death Of The Prophecy’, the opening piece, there is a bit of sampled ethnic instruments (or so it seems), which scream away at some point. ‘Dhikr’ has a bit of sampled rhythm, also from a more oriental background. The first three pieces (probably the A-side if you decide to buy the vinyl) have each a specific interest, which culminates into the final piece, ‘Blessing And Worship To The Prophet Of The Lovely Star’, which lasts nineteen minutes (the B-side), in which all these elements are united in a single piece: atmospheric guitar sounds, a bit of exotic rhythm, sampled woodwind instruments and added, towards the end, is an odd sample that doesn’t seem to fit right in, I think. That makes the ending of this otherwise lovely piece a bit of a mess. The music all fitted neatly in drone/atmospherics/ambient/industrial and sounded well produced; it was nothing new, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this a bit. I am not sure however if I will play it easily again soon. (FdW)

So far Labfield was a duo of David Stakenäs on guitar and Ingar Zach on drums. The first is also a member of Territory Band, Seval, Fire! Orchestra and Zach plays with Huntsville, Dans Les Arbes, Arve Henriksen, Erik Honore), and both are also active forces in the world of improvised music. When they played with saxophonist Hakon Kornstad they were called Tri-Dim. Labfield released their debut in 2008 on Bottrop-boy (which seems long gone, sadly; see Vital Weekly 604 for a review) and in 2010 a first release on Hubro, which I believe I didn’t hear. That CD had Giuseppe Ielasi as a guest player, but now, on ‘Bucket Of Songs’ he belongs to the regular cast. Maybe Ielasi plays guitar here, maybe its just electronics. This is a great collection of ‘songs’, as I am not afraid to call it. These pieces are quite short, certainly in the world of improvised music, somewhere between three to five minutes. In each of them this trio puts forward a few ideas, some fine moves, intense playing, a small soundscape and then some big time moves. Improvised? Perhaps it is. But I’d like to believe everything is carefully planned and executed; like them pop musicians do when they are recording a real song. Seven great, instrumental songs here, followed by two with Mariam Wallentin (from Wildbirds & Peacdrums, Mariam The Believer and Fire! Orchestra) but her traditional jazz voice didn’t do anything for me, anything at all. That’s a pity, but luckily they were at the end of this release. (FdW)

Zoharum must feel confident about Expo 70, as along with ‘Frozen Living Elements’ they also released a double CD by them at the same time. However I just got this one. I understand that this band was originally just one Justin Wright on guitars and synths, but for this release expanded into a trio, along with Jim Button on drums and Aaron Osborne on bass and more synthesizers. This is my first introduction to their music and I quite enjoy what I am hearing. It opens with the title piece, a thrilling nineteen minute space jam, in the best 70s Hawkind tradition; spacious and rocking, with the guitar free wailing about, and the rhythm section being straightforward and very tight. This is music I like very much, although my private favourites are from the late 80s/early 90s, bands like F/i and Vocokesh, but Expo 70 knows how to space rock too. In ‘Curiosities Of Levitation’ drums are absent and it’s all-spacious and synth like. This too is very 70s, but more Germanic, more Schulze having a Tangerine Dream. I like this, but in the field of cosmsic/synth/drone/space music – a crowded field indeed – I heard much better (Steve Moore for instance). But the CD closes with ‘Thunderbird Mound’, the final piece, which seems the three of them (the previous track might have been just Wright) space rocking further. Essentially the same piece but that’s the genre for you; it’s the reason why perhaps Hawkind records sound alike for so many years and yet you still play each and everyone of them. As said, I enjoy this a lot, especially on a loud volume, dancing around and cleaning the dishes. I did wonder if it was really music for Vital Weekly. Now I never get that other release as a promo.
Strom Noir is Emil Mat’ko from Slovakia and has a bunch of releases, included ‘Urban Blues’ on Zoharum (see also Vital Weekly 921). Strom Noir is armed with a guitar, lots of pedals and maybe a bit of field recordings. Here he has four new pieces and the complete version of ‘Niekedy Sa Vracaju’, which was previously released on cassette by Dronarivm in a shorter version. Again this was ‘conceived as headphone music’, which probably means I am doing it all wrong: listening without headphones and on a bunch of speakers. That’s for the more practical thing to do, but also because I like how this music travels through one’s space. Music on headphones is, perhaps for me, a bit too claustrophobic – certainly when it comes to this kind of music. This is another album of atmospheric drone music. The guitar might not always be easily recognized, especially when it’s pulled apart and layer upon layer is cemented. More sleep, dream, meditate, work music. Of the previous I wrote “You might think I may not like this music or perhaps find it too easy, but there you are wrong. I wasn’t looking for something new in the world of ambient music – mainly because that seems to be very hard and that’s something I accepted as a fact: renewing ambient music is not easy – but on this grey winter day, reading a book, staring out of the window and such pastime, this is a great soundtrack, even for a slow, suburban street, like this street”, the latter in reference to the previous title. That’s something I feel about this new release too. I think this is some excellent produced music but of the kind Strom Noir did a lot more and so did a lot of others. Time for the next move! (FdW)

So far, for all I know, I assumed Offthesky was Jason Corder’s solo project, but this new release lists a whole bunch of musicians, not all on the same pieces, but still. Also surprising is the instruments these guests play: noise, cello, violin, saxophone, drums and vocals (on at least four of the five pieces). When opened in iTunes it lists this as ‘rock’, but that might be an inside joke between label and artist. Cordell is the only one present on all pieces and credits for guitar, piano and effects. Of course this is not rock music, no matter what they told you or what you believe to see on the cover. If anything I’d say Corder is trying his hands on composing some serious modern classical music. Especially the cello, violin and wordless singing (in ‘If We Were A Lake’ and ‘Bloodletting’) have a fine Arvo Part like quality to it; mysteriously humming in the dark. It melts nicely with whatever electronics are used here, because that is also firmly part of this meal. ‘Mouthful Of Silence’ has noise and vocals added, but it doesn’t sound like that; it’s dark, atmospheric and paints one drone piece. It’s perhaps the most single-minded in that direction, whereas in the others we hear the violin or cello coming through. Saxophone and drums are reserved for the final (title-) piece, which clocks in at twenty-one minutes, which has a nice improvised ring to it, especially from the saxophone and drums, embedded in this massive surrounding erected by Corder. There is a lot of reverb in play here too, which at times seems a bit too much for my taste at times, even when this needs to be part of this kind of atmospheric music. Now while much of this is closely connected to the world drone/ambient music, I think because it uses different, acoustic instruments, which I believe to be a rare thing in the world of drone music. Some of this stuff is a bit too dark for my taste, but overall I thought it worked well. (FdW)

STILLLIFE – YORU NO KATAROGU (CD by The Ethnorth Gallery)
A great package here, but sadly with an all-Japanese text. The title of this release translates as ‘The Night Catalog’ and stilllife – no capitals please – is a duo of two field recording artists Takashi Tsuda and Hiroki Sasajima. This is their first ‘highly anticipated’ (according to the label – why?) album, which uses just sounds and no ‘instruments, improvisation nor ensemble’. It’s an interesting release, with lots of bird sounds, insects, water and wind sounds, but sometimes, just very quietly one could, I think, also hear something that sounds like a plucked string instrument. The interesting thing is, I think (but I might be wrong) is that they cut their pieces together so they form a small song of some kind, like in the opening piece ‘Tougeno Hito Kozueno Hito’. That sets stilllife apart from the usual field recordists. Their interest lies in creating a composition out of these natural sounds that actually form a song-like structure. Hardly ‘pop’ like, or ‘classical’, or actually any such thing, but more experimental. Especially when it uses more percussive sounds, ‘Yoru No Soko’ leaps out, it has this fine song interest. I thought this was an excellent work of quite some imaginative use of field recordings. (FdW)

[REC. PHONOPHON] 5 YEAR ARCHIVE (2CD compilation by Phonophon)
SELTENE ERDEN (CD compilation by Edition Degem)
Phonophon curates ‘a series of experimental music concerts in Frankfurt. Last year we celebrated our 5th anniversary with the enclosed double CD’. How do these things work, I wondered. Is it a discussion like this: ‘we exist for 5 years; let’s celebrate but doing something special. Let’s do a double CD compilation’? And why did no one think of doing the liner notes in English? You might be aware that I don’t like reviewing compilation CDs, which gets confused by the fact I don’t like them, or that I don’t like the people behind these. That is all not true. I indeed think it’s hardly a great idea to release a double CD compilation as part of a fifth anniversary – or any other anniversary – but there could be a thematic approach to spice things up. I play this sort of thing with much interest and pick up new names, check those I know and am annoyed by the pieces that sound overtly simple. There are some of those here too. The track list – no less than forty pieces by the same amount of artists – reads like a list of people who have been reviewed here before, and a whole bunch of new names. It is like a catalogue of modern day experimental musicians, field recordists and improvisers. You can benefit too from this encyclopaedia:
TBC, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Das elektronische Schaf, Eric Leonardson, Contagious Orgasm, Dirk HuelsTrunk, JIKU55, Gerald Fiebig, Roland Etzin, Lasse-Marc Riek, Suspicion Breeds Confidence, Solar Skeletons, Martyn Schmidt, phase~in, Alarmen, Radiolux, Same Actor, Paul Hegarty, LDX#40, sohne, RM74, Spherical Disrupted, Sudden Infant, 3 Banditos, TZii, Antez, Robert Piotrowicz, ATMOTAPES 98, Richmond / Schreiner, Glauser & Strotter Inst., Phober, Emerge, Circuitnoise, DJ Eddie Snowden, Phirnis, If, Bwana, Pit Noack, Das K., Hering und seine sieben Sachen, Theo Goodman.
And while on the subject of compilations from Germany, Edition Degem released their 12th compilation. This is a collection of electro-acoustic works and thematic they are linked to 17 metals which are pretty rare, but used in smart phones, computers and such like, and 90% of these come from China, so one could imagine a whole complex of interesting questions about this, environmental, political, social and economical. The liner notes are in German as well as in English and each musician describes what his or her piece is about. The only overlap, artist-wise, is Gerald Fiebig. Even when the twelve pieces (why not 17? One for each metal!) are quite varied it’s not as varied as the Phonophon compilation. In these twelve works field recordings play an important role, as well as transforming these with digital means (although Marc Behrens used also casettes, quite surprisingely) which keeps everything close together. Marcus Beuter and Micheal Harenberg both use a bit more noise than many of the others, in Johannes Sistermans piece there is more field recordings than processed sounds. Of course it didn’t escape the composer’s attention that they are using apparatus using rare earth elements; had I discovered the fact that this was all about rare earh metals, based upon listening to this release? That of course remains to be seen. All in all quite a fine compilation; to be complete the other composers are: Brian Smith, Minika Gola, Hoffmann/Rofalkski, Der 2te Freund, Gerald Eckert, Gerriet K. Sharma and Haarmann. (FdW)

RSS BOYS – HDDN (2CD by Mik Musik)
Back in Vital Weekly 884 I was introduced to the anonymous musicians, who met in Benin (yeah, right) when they released their second record. I haven’t heard the first one, but here they return with a double CD – why not. Many of the recent releases by Mik Musik deal with a kind of underground dance music, which is something I like quite a bit. Not smooth, true dance floor stuff, but the more experimental version of it. I wasn’t too blown away by the previous RSS Boys release, which I thought was a bit too roughly shaped for my taste, but on this new release things work out much better. The minimalist edge is still present in this music, and it’s also pretty raw but it simply works better as a form of dance music; maybe I am just in a better mood for this kind of music today than back then? That’s also something that needs to be taken in account I should think (and perhaps is not always considered when writing reviews?). This is not music to sit down and listen very carefully, but rather ‘do’ music – do the dishes, do some painting, do anything: it will activate you and this minimalist beats and nice little melodies – occasionally – and some of that raw production techniques which easy out the smooth like sounds that dance music sometimes has. Maybe this is all made with a relative simple set up of a synth, a sequencer and a drum machine or two, I was thinking, but for all we know this might have been made with those new apps for sound production that are commonly available these days. Sun is shining, the floor needs a good cleaning and RSS Boys provide a great soundtrack to work by. (FdW)

FREE SCHOOL – HUDSON’S WHISTLE (7″ by Static Caravan)
The last few days have been a bit warmer and there was even some sunshine: spring is a-coming. And what could I want then another (sadly) irregular intake of new music released by Static Caravan? From the many labels on my radar this is one of the rare labels one could (should!) collect all the releases from. That may be no longer something people do, I suspect (hopefully wrongly), but had you done this, you would have had by now a great collection of really alternative pop/rock/folk/electronic music that would give you an endless amount of choices to play; any time of the day, any season. The Woodbine & Ivy Band is a band from Manchester, of whom we reviewed a split 7″ before (Vital Weekly 831), which was a folky/west coast song; here they have their own Northern folk album (as opposed to Northern soul, keep on keeping on, sleep on sleeping on, getmydrift?) which encapsulates also a bit of rock, a bit of psychedelica and, by way of synthesizers, a bit krauty and cosmic. I missed out on their first record, where they had a different singer per song, while here Jenny McCormick and James Raynard divide the duties. Quite contrasting voices, leading to quite different pieces. The louder voice of Raynard leads to louder pieces, such as nicely mediaeval song ‘White Hare’, with a great horn section. The pieces are spacious, in the sense they are wide open, breezy most of the time, especially in their more folky ways (when McCormick sings), but also spacious in the sense they are easily above four minutes up to even close to nine minutes. The big band line up (which includes a Hammond organ, Rickenbacker 12 string, harp, saxophone and the regular rock stuff) guarantees a highly varied disc; not everyone plays on every track, I think, but when the whole band is up there they sure have a great big orchestral rock sound. A great CD all around. Perhaps far, far away from Vital Weekly, and probably hinting at so much ‘other’ music that I have not much knowledge of, but who cares?
It was a bit difficult finding out what is side A and what is side B here with the other release, a 7″ record, which is always nice to know when it comes to writing a review. I never heard of Free School, which Static Caravan describes as ‘Birmingham’s Maximalist cosmic voyagers’, which might actually be true. ‘Hudson’s Whistle’ is an excellent instrumental song of synthesizers and a bunch of rolling percussion to go along. Quite a cosmic journey this one, but it’s a compact journey of a few minutes in which everything fits in its place. It’s not outtake of something else, but a made to measure hit single (300 copies made, which might make it a bit more difficult). On the other side a Maps remix of ‘French Cousins’, which sounds like a more conventional house tune including vocals that aren’t particularly up my alley. It’s a bit cheesy, but perhaps that stuff sells even better, I was thinking. A sunny record for a sunny day! (FdW)

A man with a love for radio, sound and field recordings: that’s how I would like to describe the work of Mark Vernon. Once a member of Hassle Hound, a more musical oriented group and of Vernon & Burns, but since some time solo. Back in Vital Weekly 923 I reviewed his record ‘Sounds Of The Modern Hospital’, which, one could say, was a classical ‘sound effects’ record, of sounds recorded in and around the hospital, just that. Between October and December 2013 Vernon was in Sri Lanka doing a residency at Sura Medura, Hikkaduwa on the South West Coast. The release comes with a nice booklet – pro-printed – with full colour pictures and a little text which may reflect on one sound event. In the fifty-four minute piece Vernon takes us on a journey through these areas, we hear people talking, drums, bells, cymbals, singing, environmental sounds, bird calls and many sounds which are hard to pinpoint down. Sounds from human activity seem to be quite important, like its some kind of documentary of some kind of social or religious event. It’s perhaps obscured by the fact that it’s devoid of any specific context. One could believe this to be a problem but it’s not, really. It would maybe be nice to know such things but on the other hand it’s now a fascinating piece of music, a sonic landscape, which perhaps a story about which we are not privy, but we sure know it’s an exotic place. It’s hard to say whether Vernon added any electronics to it, or if this is the result of layering various sounds together (or not even that!), but it adds to the mystery of the music. Excellent journey! (FdW)

A.T.M.O.M. – ANDROMEDA (CD by Zhelezobeton)
A trio of new releases by the Zhelezobeton label, from Saint-Petersburg and all of these by people which I may not have heard of before. ‘At The Moment Of madness’, that’s what A.T.M.O.M. stands for, and its the project started in 2009 by Taras Voloschuk, who also works Toxi-X (harsh noise), Nano Synthetic (rhythmic noise) and Fractal Flints (noisecore). He has released ‘many’ works on web labels as GV Sound and DNA Production as A.T.M.O.M. in which he shows us his love for all things atmospheric, drone, dark and ambient. In nine lengthy cuts, spanning one hour, his synthesizers drone away, lights flicker on these machines and overall move very slowly. This is another space ship, high into the nocturnal sky; lights also flash, like those synthesizers do, and we easily mistake A.T.M.O.M. for another star on the endless firmament. ‘NGate (feat. Glasberg)’, the seventh piece here opens with a bit of spoken word, the first in this otherwise highly electronic release. It’s followed by ‘Abstract Earth (feat. O.N.E.)’ and ‘Orbital’ and both of these pieces use rhythm which sort of breaks with the chilling mood of the seven previous pieces. That’s a bit of pity. A.T.M.O.M. could have opted to leave these out and have a stronger, homogenous album, or have more of these and a more varied album. Now it sort of hangs there, at the end. Nothing new this kind of atmospheric music, but A.T.M.O.M. does a decent job at creating his own version.
The cover and insert for Ogni Videniy is all in Russian; I’m quoting from the press-text. Ogni Videniy hails from Archangelsk, truly a cold place on earth. He had some releases on Vetvei (see Vital Weekly 772 and 783; the latter being a collaboration with Six Dead Bulgarians). This new work is dedicated “to the phenomenon of emptiness in its Buddhist meaning: not as absolute ‘nothingness’ but rather as endless potential manifestation of everything existent in the world”. I wasn’t blown away by Ogni Videniy (which means ‘Fires Of Visions’ in Russian) previous work, which I thought was bit too much dabbling in the world of things ‘ritualistik’, but the eight pieces here are distinctly more abstract; gone are the Tibetan bowls and incoming at ‘analogue sound generators, processed field recordings and mysterious textures’. Those make already an improvement, but there is still something not quite right about the music, in my opinion. In all of these pieces, Ogni Videniy plays very few sound events, which one could interpret as ‘minimal’. There is a bit of rhythm, some drone like sounds and that’s it. It wouldn’t be ‘bad’ – and actually it isn’t – but it should be a bit more concise. With tracks easily going up to eight minutes with not a lot of changes inside a track, I must admit I drifted away. Not by the music but thinking ‘so, I know this now, what’s next’, which is never a good sign. Ogni Videniy surely has some interesting sounds and ideas to offer, and it sounds fine, but it should be a bit shorter or be a bit more varied, I’d think.
From Finland is Pentto Dassum, who works as Umpio and as such we reviewed some of his previous work – not me, but others. Dassum played guitar in many bands, ranging from punk, death-metal, rock, jazz and experimental since the early 90s, but as Umpio he doesn’t use guitar but metal junk, contact microphones, circuit bending, analogue and digital electronics and whatever else. Apparently this could end up from anything noise based to hypnotic ambient, as the label tells us. This new release has four lengthy pieces, which seem to flow right into each other and making one piece. I guess Zhelezobeton selected to release this for it’s more ambient nature. Not exactly of the kind of the other two, as Umpio is a tad more experimental and rough edged. But perhaps those are exactly the reasons why I like this a lot. It has mystery, it has tension, it is minimal yet engages to listen (more than Ogni Videniy) further; it has both a human and mechanical touch to it. Excellent release combining experimental and ambient. (FdW)

Of course I shouldn’t have said last week that things seemed quiet around Machinefabriek: here’s another one and for reasons I am not sure off, this one is released as Rutger Zuydervelt, the man behind Machinefabriek. He sometimes does stuff like that, under his own name. Zuydervelt uses for is new piece two recordings of saxophones; the soprano is played by Otto Kokke (of Dead Neanderthalers fame) and the tenor by Colin Webster. To that Zuydervelt adds an electric guitar, e-bow, effects pedals, contact mics, coil pick-ups, samples, field recordings, tapes, a cassette-corder (as it spelled on the cover) and a computer. Not unlike last week’s release ‘Loos’, Zuydervelt works here in a more collage like style, with the processed sounds of the saxophones going all sustaining, and building them upwards and onwards. Every now and then things go up, into a mighty crescendo and then drop out again. His own addition to the mix is an interesting range of mechanical sounds from battery operated hand fans, magnetic resonances picked up and the crackling of objects on top of contact microphones. Not unlike the work of label boss (here at least) Jason Lescalleet, Francisco Meirino (although perhaps less noisy) but also that of Illusion Of Safety, except in the work of Zuydervelt the saxophone in it’s untreated form also plays an important role. This is a work of electro-acoustic music, more than much of earlier work as Machinefabriek; this also shows that one can move on from doing atmospheric drone music and go on into a much more diverse field of interest. All of this recent work is quite strong.
The next release is a fund raiser: “The White Page is an art gallery and collective in Minneapolis MN, run by four awesome women. They are asking for help with their plans to expand the gallery to a larger space.” Jason Lescalleet and Justin Meyers (is that the same Meyers as the one who was behind Devillock and Pather Skull? – see Vital Weekly 494) recorded a forty-five minute piece of which details are otherwise non-existent. Don’t let the dark spirit of the drones enclosed here put you off any donation. It starts as a beautiful fat mass of flowing sounds, but gradually gets darker and darker, and quieter. An acoustic rumble is put forward – something percussive, from where we move to the second stage of drone sounds. Everything here moves very slow but there is surely a lot of tension in this piece; not something for the weak of hearth. It seems to me this is some kind of live recording, maybe from this art gallery, but it all sounds very well thought out and composed. It has a lot less moves than the Zuydervelt release, but it fits some late night listening very well.
During one of my rare visits to the USA I ended up in the house of one Chris Cooper, whom I met earlier that evening and we were supposed to stay with him. I ended up in a room, which had a drum kit, lots and lots audio cables, stomp boxes, guitars. I asked – discreetly of course – ‘is this guy also doing his own music’ and then I heard the name Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase for the first time, added by ‘you never heard of this great band?’. I didn’t know the name nor the music; come to think of it, I may still not ever heard the music – at least not properly, although I remember a nice concert by Fat Worm Of Error, another band with Cooper’s involvement, along with Deerhoof and Caroliner. This release ‘Songs Bidden For Various Releases’ may serve then as my proper introduction. Six of the seven pieces have been previously released, listed on the cover and are from the period1996 – 2008, whereas the last piece is a new, previously unreleased one from 2009. Following the two highly drone based released I just heard, this is something else altogether. What I don’t recall from Cooper’s home-studio is what kind of recorder he was using, but I am sure it was something reel-to-reel like. To describe what he does is not easy, but perhaps my best try would be that he fills up all eight tracks of reel-to-reel machines with whatever craziness he comes with – electronics, feedback noise, voice stuff – and while doing that he pitches the speed up and down. All of which without taking care of what goes where on the tape. He then sits down and analyses whatever is on the tape and mixes it down to a stereo tape; not in a random, disorganized (John Cage inspired) way but actually doing hectic, nervous collages of sound, in which just a lot seems to be happening. In ‘Revelle And Commiseration’ one hears quite beautifully layered wind-instrument sounds, and it’s here that Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase proofs to truly part of the Nurse With Wound School of sound-layering. In the other tracks that is also apparent, but they remain on the more noise-end (say NWW’s ‘Duelling Banjoos’ or ‘Sylvie & Babs’) of things. The new, unreleased piece ‘Feldweg’ shows also a quieter route and marks a fine long ending to an otherwise noisy and busy work. Quite a tour de force, this album, and a great introduction; not just for me, but maybe also for new fans alike. (FdW)

Quite some time ago I reviewed ‘Frank Zappa’ by Danielle Liebeskind (see Vital Weekly 662), a first solo release by a singer/songwriter which I felt was nice, but perhaps a bit too much outside the world of Vital Weekly (which someone recently called a sausage fest: ‘it’s all boys music!’), but then a little later on, Danielle Liebeskind turned out to be a band, including herself on guitar and vocals, Martin Luiten (of The Dear Listeners, Julie Mittens and Pick-up) on guitar and Donne of Donne & Desiree on drums and bells, recording an album in a single day (see Vital Weekly 877). On this new cassette we have both. On side A there is Liebeskind solo performing as The Godmachine the piece ‘Dead Words’, or perhaps ‘The Godmachine’ and ‘Dead Words’ are two titles. Hard to tell. On this new recording she recites poetry and uses a loop delay, which she works a bit too obvious. She has a nice voice, reminding me of Patti Smith or those female vocalists from Crass – a bit anyway – but I am not too blown away by the electronics; a bit too freaky for my part. Maybe this is all part of some improvisational schematic, which I don’t get entirely. The other side is definitely improvised, by the trio, plus on electronics Sietse van Erve (Orphax) and Gijs van der Heijden on grand piano, bass and electronics, and together they provide quite an orchestral chaos to the words of Liebeskind. Words that partly in English and partly in Dutch. Even when I am not blown away by the words themselves or the Dutch language to that end, I liked this side a lot. This release comes with a great cover: a sort of 3-D with glasses to watch these – it’s all an illusion. (FdW)

SWEAT TONGUE – SKENE’S GLAND (cassette by Cold Milk)
Last week we had some releases by Dehef Tapes, this one comes from the same source, but may not necessarily on the same label. There is not a lot of information either. Sweat Tongue is a band from Rotterdam, and we hear singing, guitar playing and drums, plus maybe a bass, although discogs says ‘drums, guitar, keys & vox’. This cassette was released for their tour in Australia and New Zealand – this band is going places. The music is curiously lo-fi, or perhaps no-fi. Or perhaps no wave. This is anti-rock music, totally free of any rules that might be part of the music world, and sometimes they play quite furious, but the third piece (I think, maybe I got lost) on side A was also introspective and minimal. A bit of rhythm, some sustaining sound (distortion pedal, no sound) and some howl. It’s followed by a louder piece of distinctly no wave playing. This is what in the old days (80, 81) was called Ultra, the No New York variation in the lowlands. Quite a varied bunch of pieces is what they have here, and that’s the great beauty of it. It’s easy to be able not to play and make some noise on a rock instrument, but to make it varied and listenable is something else. Now here’s a band I wouldn’t seeing playing live one day and see if the variation is also something that works on stage in the same way. Promising band. (FdW)

From both of these composers we reviewed material before. One could say the interest of Oscar Martin, sometimes known as Noish, lies in the use of free music software, in this particular case Pure Data, as well as using feedback and radio, whereas Anton Mobin uses cassettes and something that is called Axolotl. I have no idea if that is music software or something else. On January 8th 2014 they made some recordings atthe Maizing Studio in Paris and there are some extra tracks that ‘have been re-composed by Oscar Martin with the materials not used in the mix’. So, that’s the extent of information I have for this. The music is indeed just that: a curious mixture of noise based sounds from both the analogue and digital domain along with more introspective, quieter moments to go along with that. It’s hard to say which tracks are from the original sessions and which are from the re-composed version Martin did. In these nine pieces – which actually are difficult to separate from eachother, due to the collage nature of the compositions – there is no such difference to be noted. At times too noisy for my taste, but throughout a most enjoyable release of noise, mayhem, collage, computer treatments and low analogue treatments. Nice tape! (FdW)

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