Jim O'Rourke

MARTIN SCHULTE – FOREST (CD by Lantern) *
34423 – MASQUERADE (CD by Kaico) *
MØHR/MAEROR TRI – HAFENSTADT (CD by Auf Abwegen)
SETH NEHIL – BOUNDS (LP by Auf Abwegen)
TOSHIUKI YASUDA – NAMELESS GOD’S BLUE (CD by Megadolly)
YUSUKE YUKUTA – MOTHER SHAPE (CD by Kurage)
QIBE – NAFAS BATIN (CD by Nature Bliss) *
ZMI – FU-NE (CD by Plop) *
TETUZI AKIYAMA & JASON KAHN & TOSHIMARU NAKAMURA – BETWEEN TWO (CD by Ftarri) *
FTARRI CHRISTMAS (CDR by Ftarri)
BERTRAND DENZLER & ANTONIN GERBAL – HERETOFORE (CD by Umlaut Records) *
BETRAND DENZLER – MORPH (CDR by Confront) *
HORNS – HORNS 1.2 (CDR by Confront) *
BRUNNEN – SOMETIMES MY ARMS BEND BACK (LP by Vrystaete) *
NZUMBE – TITUBEO (LP by Organized Music From Thessaloniki)
RAYMOND DIJKSTRA – CE PHENOMENE NEGATIF D’UNE MANIERE SATISFAISANTE (LP by Le Souffleur)
MERZBOW & GUSTAFSSON & PANDI – LIVE IN TABACKA 13/04/2012 (LP by Tabacka Records)
JAVIER HERNANDO – LIMITE RADIOAZULADO (CDR by Geometrik Urafonia) *
JESS ROWLAND – SPAMBOTS (CDR by Edgetone)
EAT THE SUN – THE DJERASSI SESSIONS (CDR by Edgetone)
LORDS OF OUTLAND – LORDS O LEAPING (CDR by Edgetone)
THOLLEM MCDONAS & MICHEL SNOW – TWO PIANO CONCERT AT THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART (CDR by Edgetone)
TARRACOIR – GROWTH (CDR by Deserted Village) *
WOVEN SKULL – FAT BABY BLUES (cassette by Deserted Village)
THE SUNKEN HUM – VOL. 1: FIELD RECORDINGS OF RHYTHMS & DRONES (cassette by Deserted Village)
SARAH LOUISE – FIELD GUIDE (cassette by Scissor Tail Records)
STAPLERFAHRER – FOUR MORE BROKEN ELEMENTS (cassette by Dim Records) *
JIM O’ROURKE – NEVERTHELESS (download from Bandcamp) *
JIM O’ROURKE – THE GREAT INDOORS (download from Bandcamp)
JIM O’ROURKE – THEN LEFT (download from Bandcamp)

Vital Weekly #972 by Vitalweekly on Mixcloud

tracklist for Vital Weekly 972:

0000 Tune
0014 Martin Schulte – Electrical
0315 34423 – Cosmic
0620 Qibe – Berjalan Berkata
0930 Betrand Denzler – Morph
1233 zmi – Natsuoto
1532 Horns – Horns 1.2
1839 Javier Hernando – Radardenker
2144 Brunnen – Silent Screams And Stranger Dreams
2417 Jason Kahn & Tetuzi Akiyama & Toshimaru Nakamura
2726 Staplerfahrer – Kapotte Muziek by…
3034 Jim O’Rourke – Nevertheless
3342 Betrand Denzler & Antonin Gerbal – Heretofore
3649 Tarracoir – Anseo Anois
3944 Tune

MARTIN SCHULTE – FOREST (CD by Lantern)
34423 – MASQUERADE (CD by Kaico)
Marat Shibaev from Russia calls himself Martin Schulte. Maybe because it sounds German and people would maybe think he’s a German? Maybe people think he’s connected to the Kompakt scene? In wintertime he releases a CD, and this year it’s ‘Forest’. ‘He took the concept from forest, as that’s the place where he can set his mind free from everything, not to mention forest was always around him from his childhood’, the label writes. Ten pieces which sound alarmingly similar; to each other but also to his previous release. Hey, I can do that repetition thing too: “Lantern calls this dub techno, and like before this is somewhere between Cologne’s Kompakt, Wolfgang Voigt in particular (hey, as far as I judge such matters) and the older Chain Reaction releases – again: I am hardly the expert on dance music, and the splintering of styles makes me dazed and confused. But, yes, this is indeed dub like, techno music, highly laid back and like with the previous release you could wonder if ten tracks in sixty-five minutes is really necessary, but perhaps this should not be regarded in terms of pure musical effort which requires ones full attention, but rather as something that is intended as music to dance to, to chill out to, to work with and perhaps more of the aural wallpaper kind. Which is of course is something entirely different.” That’s what I said about ‘Slow beauty’, but I feel exactly the same about ‘Forest’.
‘Masquerade’ is the second album by 34423, also known as Fumi Miyoshi, and these Japanese characters can be pronounced as 34423. Her previous album was ‘Tough And Tender’ (see Vital Weekly 893) and despite being inspired by Aphex Twin and Nine Inch Nails, it was more tender than tough, even when she described her music as ‘hard techno’. That is changed on her new album, as this is surely a bit louder, a bit more intense and a bit tougher perhaps. She plays more wacky tunes of rolling beats, danceable beats and spacious as well as gritty synths. In ‘Architects’ she still sounds like Aphex Twin indeed, but she also experiments with rhythms borrowed from dub step and drum & bass, such as in ‘Il Tempo’. In ‘The Clap’ there is a bit of ethnic instruments, sounding not unlike Muslimgauze remixed by an average artist on Warp Records. It makes that these thirteen pieces/songs/tracks are a bit scattered all over the place and that makes up a varied album. One that is an excellent tool for jogging outside or anything else that requires a lot of physical activity, but perhaps not dancing. Many of these pieces I couldn’t envisage being played on a dance floor (like I would know what I am talking about!). Among the favourites for me where the more introspective pieces, such as ‘Optical’ and ‘Cosmic’ – there is no price to win if you what the latter sounds like. See: all over the musical spectrum and that’s the nicest thing about it. Music that fits all moods. (FdW)
Address: http://www.naturebliss.jp

MØHR/MAEROR TRI – HAFENSTADT (CD by Auf Abwegen)
SETH NEHIL – BOUNDS (LP by Auf Abwegen)
It’s been a long, long time since I last heard music by Andreas Vogel, who was active as Møhr from 1986 to 1994, however I never forget his concert in a small club in Emden (Tara on October 30, 1993), which was incredible loud. Much of the work he released as Møhr was on his own ZNS Recordings label and one of his projects was handing out ‘basic sound material’ with other musicians would then re-use in new music – such were the projects of those years. Møhr released two boxes of three tapes with these principles but never finished the third one, which was to contain music by The Haters, PBK and Maeror Tri. This CD has that lost tape of Møhr and Maeror Tri (I am not sure what happened to the material from PBK and The Haters). If this would have been a tape release the basic sound material would have been on side A, and the new interpretations on side B. Here Møhr has the first twenty-eight minutes, exactly like it would have been if it was a tape release. You could wonder if releasing untreated basic sounds is a good idea but in this case it actually works out quite well. The industrial sounds, sample-‘n-hold through lo-fi equipment, are played for some time and there is minimal manipulation of that by Møhr himself. In the hands of Maeror Tri, the forerunner of Troum and 1000schoen, these sounds are melted down in a steam engine and expanded into some excellent ambient industrial soundscapes. Three of them to be precise. This is Maeror Tri at their peak: truly hypnotic sound waves, such as in ‘Hypnotic Quakes’, with tons of sound effects running extra miles. These three previously unreleased pieces by Maeror Tri once more proof that they were simply once of the best bands from the late 80s, early 90s ambient industrial scene and that’s hardly a surprise to see that everything they ever did is re-issued on CD by now. I am sure this release will be much in demand as well. Maeror Tri’s music sticks right in to your brain and transport the listener to other levels. Highly psychedelic music. Excellent release.
On vinyl we have the music of Seth Nehil. It’s been a while since I last heard his music. As far as I understand some the pieces on this new LP were recorded for a festival curated by label boss Till Kniola in which music was played in the dark. That was in 2012, but the pieces have been refined over time and now added with some new music make up the LP ‘Bounds’. So far I know Nehil mostly as a composer of drone music in which real instruments were used, but also treated with computers. In this new work we recognize the recordings of percussion instruments, but they are treated even more heavily on the computer, making this ‘computer music’, almost in a classical sense of the word. Nehil bends his sounds around and comes with some highly imaginative computer music. Much of the stuff I usually hear in this direction uses similar types of software, it seems, which makes it all a bit similar, but Nehil’s version is something that appeals to me much more. We recognize the percussion instruments and feel how granular synthesis changes pitch, speed, colour and all that and Nehil makes them into delicate little pieces. This is not the usual two pieces per side of this kind of music, but eleven well-defined smaller compositions, short and to the point. That too is a difference with many of the ‘serious’ composers. Of his previous work ‘Furl’ I said it was his best work to date; ‘Bounds’ easily matches that: among his best works. I understand market forces wanting this sort of thing to be released as a LP, but for such delicate music (which doesn’t equal ‘soft’ or ‘quiet’ actually; it means dynamic, a fine interplay between loud and quiet) I wouldn’t have minded this to be on CD. Excellent record. (FdW)
Address: http://www.aufabwegen.com

TOSHIUKI YASUDA – NAMELESS GOD’S BLUE (CD by Megadolly)
YUSUKE YUKUTA – MOTHER SHAPE (CD by Kurage)
Two albums from Japanese artists I have never heard of. This is, of course, nothing unique as Japan produces a continuous stream of music, both ultra-traditional as, dare I say, ultra-experimental. Toshiuki Yasuda is probably a teeny bit more on the left side of these matters. He has produced four albums, which are all based on concepts such as ‘Brazilian music sung by a fictitious robot’, ‘all monophonic compilation album’ or ‘electronic covers of world’s children’s songs’. This is in order of interest – somehow the robot album sounds most appealing, electronic covers of children’s songs is a not-too-new concept. This, Nameless God’s Blue, is his fifth album does not seem to center around a specific concept, unless of course you count laid back singer/songwriter pop as a pre-manufactured concept. I do. Twelve songs of relaxed carefully constructed easy listening music, dreamy vocals and jazzy instrumentation (glockenspiel and the like). Maybe Yasuda has made this album to see if he can get away with it. Recorded over a period of two years – not surprisingly, as the label information proudly boasts the piano was recorded, or rather ‘captured’ by no less than ten microphones, I think Yasuda’s album is a personal triumph: it fits the easy listening concept like a glove. I have played this album four times in a row now and every single time it blended perfectly in the back ground of every day noise/thoughts/work/play etcetera. Interestingly, I didn’t feel the need to put something else on. Thinking about it I would probably describe this album as a very friendly listen. Your aural friend in the background, always there, never intrusive. The final track, Journey’s End In The Eastern Evening Sky, with its prolonged ambient ending lulls you into a final deep endless sleep. But by that time, you had already forgotten about the music anyways. More music from Tokyo comes courtesy of Yusuke Yakuta. He is the former guitar player of the afro-beat band Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra (a hint to Sun Ra no doubt). However, his first solo album Mother Shape is a different thing altogether: here Yakuta plays guitar in minimal phrases that are repeated on and on. This gives his music a nice rotating feeling, a bit like Durutti Column even. On top of the guitar and some toy instruments come his vocals, with lyrics based on everyday life, more like an audio diary. Possibly pure poetry, but without understanding Japanese, the words become more like an additional instrument, with rhyme and rhythm, which is something I really like about Japanese lyrics. You can imagine their meaning and intention yourself by using the melody and feel the singing emits. Possibly awkward lyrics (think ‘oh yeah, baby I love you’) are reduced to pure sound. I really enjoyed listening to this album, which is far from the obligatory sound of the Yasuda record. The atmosphere and flow of Mother Shape sucks you in and gives back. A fine album indeed. (FK)
Address: http://www.megadolly.com
Address: http://www.naturebliss.jp

QIBE – NAFAS BATIN (CD by Nature Bliss)
Syakti Fiandana is from Jakarta, Indonesia (not the first Indonesian to be reviewed actually) and he plays music, solo, as Qibe. He recorded his debut album ‘Nafas Batin’ at home. He plays guitar, lots of stomp boxes, a synthesizer and a drum machine. Nature Bliss describes as ‘post rock’ and ‘shoegaze’ and surely I can see that. The fuzz pedals are working over time here and Qibe plays some quite nice melodies, with a great drive and energy levels. All of this is instrumental, which works a bit against the release, certainly when it has fourteen tracks and clocks in at sixty-eight minutes. That seems to me a bit long and especially with energy and drive Qibe is playing this is really a bit much. It’s not easy to distinguish one track from another, and besides a certain fatigue, certain uniformity drops in; another fuzz pedal, more chorus, more up-tempo drum pads, another nice feedback howl melody. That’s why I liked LP’s back in the old days: forty minutes maximum of your best selection and have one powerful record. Now we have almost a double LP worth of material that is not all as strong as it could be. (FdW)
Address: http://www.naturebliss.jp

ZMI – FU-NE (CD by Plop)
‘Sound Of Wind’ is the translation of ‘Fu-ne’ and it’s the title of the debut album by zmi (no capitals), a female composer from Japan. Her primary instrument is the piano and that’s what we hear in these thirteen pieces. She guides us through the four seasons and especially the way the wind travels in these four seasons. Many of these pieces have Japanese titles, so it’s hard to tell which season a specific track should represent. Zmi plays some excellent moody piano music, in the best tradition of Erik Satie and Claude Debussy and it all comes with a nice natural (?) reverb and all of this is highly introspective music. Forever autumn? Or when we get to ‘Amenoodoriko’ and ‘Natsuoto’ it’s already summer time through a more up-tempo rhythm? In ‘Fade’ (one of the four English titles) there is some field recording from seashore and it’s already getting darker again. In ‘Psyche’ she sings without words. If the current wave of piano players is something you fancy – say Nils Frahm and his buddies – then I am sure the modern classical music of zmi will appeal to you too. (FdW)
Address: http://www.naturebliss.jp

TETUZI AKIYAMA & JASON KAHN & TOSHIMARU NAKAMURA – BETWEEN TWO (CD by Ftarri)
FTARRI CHRISTMAS (CDR by Ftarri)
The ever so-active Jason Kahn returns to two of his more familiar companions with whom he worked before, either as a duo but also a trio; ‘Between Two’ is their second release, following ‘IHJ/Ftarri’, a CD for Winds Measure Recordings, which I haven’t heard. Throughout the years Kahn has played a lot of electronics and analogue synthesizer on his many releases, but since time he’s back behind the drum kit, which is what he played when he entered the music scene. Tetuzi Akiyama plays the acoustic guitar with no electronics and Toshimaru Nakamura plays no-input mixing board – so for the last two there have been no change. The recordings on this release were made over the course of two days in May last year at Ftarri, for a ‘small and extremely attentive audience’. This is a most interesting meeting: on one end we have the acoustic guitar of Akiyama and on the other end the crazy electronic sounds from Nakamura – and yet it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between the two, which I thought was most odd. In between we have Kahn on the drum kit and he’s in a total free mode of playing, rattling the drums, cymbals, while playing with a variety of bells. Sometimes this trio goes out all the wild way, but most of the time it’s more quiet and subdued, with a lot of space for a lot of silence, and from there they work up their way to another mighty crescendo, such as in the fourth piece, but it’s a schematic they use in all of these four pieces. It makes this quite a wild ride, this release, moving the listener through quite a bumpy road, but it’s a great journey.
The other release is a belated Christmas release; or a highly premature one of course. Maybe it’s just a gift from company to press? There have been only thirty copies made and the titles are in Japanese. The music is played by Toemoe Takizawa (radio-cassette recorder, drum machine, microphone, piano, guitar) and Hikaru Yamada (radio, Yamaha RX-8, Boss GT-6, Zoom 505 II and Audio-Technica AT-PMX5P – yes, go look all of that up, I’d say). Two of the six pieces where released on cassette before. This is certainly something else from the usual releases on Ftarri, including that recent Helll release (see Vital Weekly 963). Surely this too stems from the world of improvisation, but it’s much cruder than what we normally hear from Ftarri. Part of that might be from the somewhat lo-fi equipment that has been used here – drum machines, radios, guitar effects – but also the way these instruments are played: nosier, grittier (although obviously nowhere real noise), even with a drum beat going on, but nothing lasts very long here, although perhaps at sixty-three minutes it is actually quite a sit altogether. The whole Christmas component kind of eludes me, I must admit, but overall quite an enjoyable and strange release, which is perhaps a bit long. (FdW)
Address: http://www.ftarri.com

BERTRAND DENZLER & ANTONIN GERBAL – HERETOFORE (CD by Umlaut Records)
BETRAND DENZLER – MORPH (CDR by Confront)
HORNS – HORNS 1.2 (CDR by Confront)
Believe it or not, but I received three releases with music from Betrand Denzler on the same day from two different sources. Two of them are on the same label, but still it’s quite a surprise. Denzler’s work spans composition – as we will see – as well as free improvisation. The first disc is an example of that improvised music and Denzler plays tenor saxophone while Antonin Gerbal (of whom I haven’t heard before) plays drums. Their disc was recorded May 31 last year in Paris and I assume this is a pretty straight forward recording, without much post-production, editing or such like. In their improvisation these two players approach their instruments in a fairly conventional way. It’s recognized as a saxophone and drum kit, and unlike other improvisers they don’t use their instruments (a lot) as resonating objects. That makes this all a bit more jazz like in approach but even for a non-jazz head like myself, I thought this was most enjoyable. They go through the entire range of dynamics: very loud and even noisy, but also very quiet and introspective. It’s a fine, solid concert recording. Nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary but quite lovely.
Moving to the other two releases, which are on CDR and seem to reflect another interest from Denzler. Both of these a ‘pseudo-drone’ piece, which is Denzler’s own description, not mine. The first one is ‘Morph’ and this is a piece composed for ‘Onceim’, an orchestra of 30 musicians, although 24 are present on this one, playing compositions by founder Frederic Blondy, Jean-Sebastian Mariage, Sebastiuan Beliah, Arnaud Riviere and Stephen O’Malley; and Denzler of course, here with an excellent drone – pseudo or otherwise – piece of music. There are lots of wind instruments, a bunch of stringed instruments and maybe some keyboard, but I am not sure about that. These instruments stay close together, in similar tonal range, mid-low end and they move very slowly. I am not sure what the score for such a piece would look like, but surely something along the lines of ‘to be held as long as possible’. Maybe there was something done with the recording of this – overlaying various recordings from different angles to further amass the sound would be one option – and it’s all together an excellent piece of music.
Horns are a quartet of players: Pierre-Antoine Badaroux (alto saxophone), Fidel Fourneyron (trombone), Louis Laurain (trumpet) and Denzler on tenor saxophone. ‘Horns 1.2’ is a composition by Denzler and when played following ‘Morph’ its easy to spot the similarities between the pieces, but also the differences. I heard ‘Horns 1.2’ after ‘Morph’ and obviously I keep comparing the two pieces and ‘Horns 1.2’ seems to me the lesser of the two. ‘Morph’ has an excellent density, and ‘Horns 1.2’ is less dense, less dark and perhaps also less intense. In a way it reminds me of a Niblock piece in an earlier stage of layering together. Obviously this is part of the way it’s played and recorded and that’s how things are. I am curious what I would have thought had I played this first and ‘Morph’ after that. It’s of course not something we will know now. Don’t get me wrong, and don’t think I don’t like ‘Horns 1.2’; it is perhaps a relatively lighter piece but as a sucker for all things drone like this is an excellent piece of acoustic drone music. ‘Morph’ is favorite, ‘Horns 1.2’ is certainly another fine extension of this ‘pseudo-drone’ action. (FdW)
Address: http://www.umlautrecords.com
Address: http://www.confrontrecordings.com

BRUNNEN – SOMETIMES MY ARMS BEND BACK (LP by Vrystaete)
There are a small number of artists I should not be writing about. For the simple reason that I know them all too well, personally as well as being ‘partners’ of some kind. Brunnen is one such artist, being the solo project of Freek Kinkelaar, who sometimes worked as Beuatiful Glass Bottom Boat, but is perhaps best known as one half of Beequeen; there you go. Within the latter constellation he is, these days, the prime composer and lyricist, pushing the music towards a more pop front. Maybe, just maybe, one could say that as Brunnen we have a proto-Beequeen sound; maybe a bit more sparse, maybe a bit more primitive, stripped of whatever else is added by who-ever else in Beequeen, but essentially the same kind of dreamy chords and like-wise vocals. Here of course Kinkelaar sings everything himself, a duty left to Olga Wallis in Beequeen. This is the final Brunnen release, clearing the archives for one last time. Some of these pieces were released on ‘Goodbye Bye Brunnen’ (see Vital Weekly 77 – that old!), long deleted of course, which is probably the fate of this record too: only 150 copies of ‘Sometimes My Arms Bend Back’ were made. Inspired by the sad likes of Syd Barrett and Nick Drake (and maybe also Edward Ka-spel), Kinkelaar (free of any narcotic abuse however) sings with a similar melancholically a song, with a dramatic intonation that shows that all is dark but there is always light at the end of tunnel (eat your heart out, Nick!). A particular private affair of melancholia. Quite folky and dark at times, but not the kind of folk noir you need to wear your military gear too. If this is the end of Brunnen – and who knows, it is for now – then this is most lovingly exit, ending on a sad low note. (FdW)
Address: http://vrystaete.nl

NZUMBE – TITUBEO (LP by Organized Music From Thessaloniki)
From the department of more crazy names: the letter ‘u’ in Nzumbe needs to have a line through it. I won’t even try to look for that on my computer. Behind Nzumbe is Miguel Prado, from Galicia, and who is called a composer/theorist/provocateur and who lives in Bristol. He worked with Mattin, Stephen O’Malley, Michael Pisaro and Jozef van Wissem. This is his second release and he sings, plays modular synthesizer, electric guitar, keyboards and percussion. Besides that there is help from Rafael Mallo (percussion), Roberto Mallo (alto saxophone), Ruth Barberan (trumpet) and Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion). It’s music I don’t understand very much. The label describes this a ‘modern Baroque love songs’, which seems a bit of a contradiction. I also read that the seven tracks ‘are comprised of several nakedly emotional structures that most closely bring to mind the decadent lyricism of late-70s music and general culture’, which, if you don’t speak the language is a bit hard to acknowledge. I don’t think Prado can sing very well, and yes, maybe these are supposed to be some sort of decadent love songs (thanks to the processing of the vocals), set in a cold environment of strangely shaped music of bleeps and bloops on a modular synth. Obviously I might be missing a point or two, or maybe this is all about provocation? Mission accomplished! (FdW)
Address: http://thesorg.noise-below.org

RAYMOND DIJKSTRA – CE PHENOMENE NEGATIF D’UNE MANIERE SATISFAISANTE (LP by Le Souffleur)
Things have been quiet for Raymond Dijkstra. At least that’s how it seemed looking from the outside: maybe he was busy with painting or creating super limited pieces of vinyl with handmade packaging. The latter is something he always does himself. Apart from ‘De Gedachte’ and ‘De Gelofte’, Dijkstra creates all of these linen boxes himself, which must have cost him quite a few hours and which remind me of small book press work. His latest record comes in three editions: a soft cover one (100 copies) a hardcover one with poster (100 copies) and a highly limited edition of 10 copies with original artwork, wooden dowel and two posters, for which you have to fork out some money. For this new LP Dijkstra gets help from Timo van Lujik on Monochord and Frederique Bruyas (voice). This is quite a departure from much of the work he has released after 2003, moving away from louder scratches of metal forks on glass plates and random stabs on the harmonium, but opts for a much more careful and quiet sound, which perhaps has more in common with the music Dijkstra plays with Van Luijk in their group Asra. Very much improvised here, as always, but very subdued and quiet, almost like a zen meditation. Dijkstra plays harmonium, tuba, fork, feedback and mellotron, so you could all too easily think that there is indeed nothing new under the sun, but that’s not true. Dijkstra operates in a spacier realm here, with delay pedals full open and creating lots of air in which Dijkstra’s music seems to float quietly. A distant surreal sound. If Dijkstra’s music is something you like but not keen on every new release, but you surely like to hear something new, then this record might be exactly up your alley. It’s not the big departure from what we know, but it’s surely quite a move in a different direction. (FdW)
Address: http://www.le-souffleur.nl

MERZBOW & GUSTAFSSON & PANDI – LIVE IN TABACKA 13/04/2012 (LP by Tabacka Records)
Like Dijkstra I never hear a lot of new Merzbow these days. Perhaps because I don’t get much of his newer releases, or maybe there is less? Whatever is the case? Here we have a recording from April 13th, 2012 and it’s a live recording at a place called Tabacka (which doesn’t translate as tobacco it seems) in the city of Kosice, Slovakia. Masami Akita, also known as Merzbow on electronics, Mats Gustfasson on saxophone and Balazs Pandi on drums; the latter is perhaps least known. He is from Hungary, but in recent years he played quite a bit with Merzbow, resulting in five releases so far. He seems quite a catch for the noise of Merzbow, or in this case for both Merzbow and Gustfasson. This is one furious loud record, with Pandi keeping up the beats to quite some speed and the other two mingling electronics and saxophone playing together in a great way. It bounces around in a great way, and is best enjoyed when played at a loud volume – obviously I’d say. It’s a total free jazz/free noise festival going on here, almost, at times, in a grindcore way, especially on the second side. We know Masami can play the drums as well, but it suits him well to have Pandi on board and bring out the metal influences out more in this particular brand of noise. Excellent record! (FdW)
Address: http://records.tabacka.sk/

JAVIER HERNANDO – LIMITE RADIOAZULADO (CDR by Geometrik Urafonia)
The musical history for Javier Hernando started already in 1979, when he was a member of Xeerox, along with Krishna Goineau, who shortly after that became a member of Liasons Dangereux – in case you would remember that. Since then Hernando has been releasing his own music on cassettes, CD and CDRs, and founding his own label, Ortega Y Cassette, does music for film and works on radio broadcasts. His CV reads like a history of the Spanish musical underground. He has three pieces on this new release, two of nine minutes each and one of twenty-two minutes. There is no information on what kind of instruments he uses, but me being all-romantically would say he has a bunch of ancient synthesizers and sound effects, which are used to create experimental ambient pieces. Not of the kind that lull the listener to a deep sleep, but moody, dense, intense, industrial, spacious and harking back to say the grauzone where Conrad Schnizler meets Maurizio Bianchi, if you get my drift. In the opening minutes of ‘Intero Azurina’ Hernando uses a multi-effect sound, which sounds a bit like a twenty-five year old cliché, but beyond that everything works very well. Especially in the long ‘Querenica’ Hernando takes the listener on a high and low ride through clean aired, glacial landscapes and polluted abandoned industrial areas. It’s perhaps not music that sounds very ‘new’, but rather explores a lot of routes already taken in the last thirty years of underground, electronic, non-academic music, and as such this works all really well. (FdW)
Address: http://www.geometrikrecords.com

JESS ROWLAND – SPAMBOTS (CDR by Edgetone)
EAT THE SUN – THE DJERASSI SESSIONS (CDR by Edgetone)
LORDS OF OUTLAND – LORDS O LEAPING (CDR by Edgetone)
THOLLEM MCDONAS & MICHEL SNOW – TWO PIANO CONCERT AT THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART (CDR by Edgetone)
Rowland is composer and performer from San Francisco. She is into electronic conceptual sound art, modern jazz piano improvisation, musical puppet-theater, and multi-media video/music projects. Multi-media is her main focus nowadays. For her new album ‘Spambots’ Rowland uses tonal instruments, electronics, programming and has guest Pete Stalsky plays drums. The album counts 13 pieces all-moving between one and four minutes. She uses a lot of samples, quotes of spoken word, etc. The tracks feel like loosely assembled pieces of sound art, that are somewhere in the middle of pure sound collage and music. Rowland frames from a punk-like attitude, very basic, anarchic and experimental miniatures of unpolished beauty. Improv unit Lords of Outland started is an initiative of Rent Romus in 1994. On board are Collette McCaslin (trumpet, analog electronics), Ray Schaeffer (6-string electric bass), Philip Everett (drums, autoharp, electronics) and Rent Romus (alto, soprano, C-melody saxophones), completed with Josh Allen (tenor saxophone) as a guest player. Romus, who runs the Edgetone-label by the way, has a long career as an improviser always feeling attracted to the free and experimental corners of jazz. With his Lords he moves within these same territories. Cacophonic music. Seemingly independent soloing players create some captivating and improvisations. Engaging battles with power but also with played with wit  and humour. Eat the Sun is Gretchen Jude (koto), Jason Hoopes (bass) and Noah Phillips (guitar). All three are graduates from Mills College and started their collaboration in 2012.  Not sure, but I guess this is mainly improvised music. Some parts are accessible and friendly. Like in the opening track, where Jude’s koto is in the forefront. Other parts however are more of a noisy and dark nature. An approach that lives from contrasts, but it was difficult to find out what they are aiming at. It didn’t really talk to me. The piano concert by Thollem McDonas and Michael Snow took place on January 31st 2014 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in celebration of Michael Snow’s lifetime retrospective exhibition. Snow started in the 60s playing free jazz, co-founded the legendary Music Gallery label, member of the improve outfit CCMC, recorded solo piano album, one for the Chatham Square lalbel, founded by Philip Glass in his early days, etc. McDonas worked and lived as a politicial activist before changing to a career as a improv pianist somewhere in his 30s. His collaborations, cds, etc are too numerous to mention. On this record with Snow, we find McDonas playing as exuberant as ever. Constantly attacking, producing a constant flow of  clusters, runs and patterns. I can’t figure out who is chasing who as Snow is equally involved in this restless meeting. (DM)
Address: http://www.edgetonerecords.com

TARRACOIR – GROWTH (CDR by Deserted Village)
WOVEN SKULL – FAT BABY BLUES (cassette by Deserted Village)
THE SUNKEN HUM – VOL. 1: FIELD RECORDINGS OF RHYTHMS & DRONES (cassette by Deserted Village)
In Gaelic Tarracoir means tractor ‘think grindcore, hardcore (but never normcore) and a gravitation pulling you in’ and this trio consists of Diarmad Mac Diarmada (tenor sax, trombone, percussion, garden hose, vox), Bryan O’Connell (drums) and Gavin Prior (guitar, vox, bass, piano innards, electronics). The three of them were also members of United Bible Studies, an improvisational group, but in Tarracoir they go further and combine free jazz with death metal and ‘the blare & clatter of Tibetan Buddhist demon-chasing rituals’. Two gigs have been edited and collaged and overdubbed here for growth, and it’s a racket for sure. Forcefully loud, with especially the saxophone blearing away and the electronics set to nasty, piercing settings. They let their listener suffer, most of the time, but in a piece like ‘Hisskrittle’ they also pull back and play a bit quieter, even when this only happens for very short moments. Here we have time to grasp for a bit of fresh air. Not a lot of course as Tarracoir marches on. My CDR copy didn’t come without problems, so the last track was not for me to hear, but I don’t expect dramatic changes. Great release but probably even better to witness this in an actual concert.
Woven Skull is also a trio, from Leitrim, Northwest Ireland, who play free folk music. The band members are Willie, Aonghus and Natalia playing mandola, chimes, metal sheet, gamelan, saw, seashells, stones, autumn leaves, guitar, percussion, footsteps. When they play at festivals they receive help from members of United Bible Studies. This is certainly a different tune than Tarracoir is playing. It’s certainly more musical in a more conventional sense of the word. Woven Skull plays drone like tunes on what seems to be bowed saws, empty boxes and the rattling chains. It starts out with a jangling tune, which turns out to be the most ‘normal’ song on the CD. It has a distant feel of medieval song, but also something charming lo-fi. In other pieces, no titles, Woven Skull is a bit more experimental, drone like and atmospheric, but I can surely play them a free folk festivals: Woven Skull have a quite captivating sound that in a concert would work even better I think. Most promising new band.
Much more conceptual is the release by The Sunken Hum, also known as Natalia Beylis (yes, from Woven Skull where she plays mandola), who recorded for 365 days every day two minutes of field recordings, of which we have a selection of thirty-two on this tape. All of these are ‘pure and unmanipulated’: nature recordings, nothing happening in the house, a clock ticking, someone selling something on the market, animal sounds, farm life, sea waves, all that and much more. A great piece of accidental and incidental sounds which make up a fascinating listening experience. It made me wonder however: why release a selection? Why not release the whole 365 times two minute thing on a USB drive as one long, 700 plus minute sound file? That would be quite long indeed, but given the nature (pun intended) of this music, I’d be very much interested in hearing them all. Not the best of recording qualities, but that’s part and parcel of this project. It comes with a nice handwritten diary/notes on these recordings. Quite private and intimate, but fine quality all around. (FdW)
Address: http://desertedvillage.bandcamp.com

SARAH LOUISE – FIELD GUIDE (cassette by Scissor Tail Records)
Performing music on a twelve-string guitar, basing her self on some older songs (the Primitive Baptist Hymn and Old Regular Baptist Hymns as mentioned on the cover), which according to Sarah Louise Henson dates to pre-Christian times. I wouldn’t know. I must admit I have very little knowledge of the music I hear here. This is solo guitar music that are played in the more rural parts of the eastern part of America, and no doubt Sarah Louise knows how to play the banjo too. It’s quite meditative music, minimal even, but it’s also a quite direct recording, quite in your face as it were, and it works well. What else can I tell about this? I am afraid not a lot. I enjoyed it. I don’t know anything else about this or the historical development of this kind of music. I am blank. I liked this. (FdW)
Address: http://www.scissortailrecords.com

STAPLERFAHRER – FOUR MORE BROKEN ELEMENTS (cassette by Dim Records)
It’s been a while since I last got a release from Staplerfahrer’s Dim Records, although at one point he seemed very active. This new tape is, more or less, a collection of four pieces that have been lying around for some time, and three of these have some sort of field recordings at the basis of each piece. On the A-side these two pieces deal with sounds recorded in two different abandoned buildings. In ‘The Mathematics Of Necessity’ these include car wheels, a chandelier, a turntable, a printer and such like – the place used to be a publishing house. This piece seems to be a rather dry recording of moving around the place working the objects, but the development is going from afar and distant to more up-close to the microphone, ending with very precise crackles that appear very close by. In this piece there seems to be no electronics, whereas in the other piece on this side, ‘Florid Perversions’ there is a bit of electronics guiding the rummage of the rumble. These electronics are quite a deep end bass sound, which bounces slightly around. ‘Wissant’ is the only piece that has no field recordings, but it was recorded using some cheap casio’s in a cabin in a French village of the same name. It has, perhaps, a simple ring to it, but it turns out that ‘Wissant’ is actually quite a nice piece of drone music. Freely floating in space, full of little imperfections, but it works quite well. The other piece of side B is ‘Kapotte Muziek by…’ which is Staplerfahrer’s remake of an acoustic concert by this Dutch trio on the streets on Tilburg in 2007. It’s the fifteenth in this series (mainly released by Korm Plastics) and as such the concert becomes field recording and Staplerfahrer pulls the material apart and stretches the sounds out, but we still hear the metallic rumble, people talking and such like. It’s hard to say what it is that does, even when one was a witness to the concert. It seems to be staying close to the original, yet also moving it to a close, yet different reality, like a glitch in time and space warping reality into a sub reality. Quite a nice piece and an excellent tape all around. (FdW)
Address: http://dimrecords.bandcamp.com

JIM O’ROURKE – NEVERTHELESS (download from Bandcamp)
JIM O’ROURKE – THE GREAT INDOORS (download from Bandcamp)
JIM O’ROURKE – THEN LEFT (download from Bandcamp)
Three more recent additions to digital domain of Jim O’Rourke and not a lot of additional information is handed for ‘Nevertheless’. Just that ‘this one is for B.F.’ It’s a piece of improvised music, starting out on piano, guitar and drums, free but sparse, but over the course of the piece it becomes more and more layered and it sounds gradually like a drone piece, before spacing out again. I assume O’Rourke plays all the instruments here? Half way through the piece there is a shift. We are served field recordings before it moves over into a wonderfully relaxed electronic texture. Not drone like, but sparse tones on what could be an electric piano and some synthesizers. A wonderful piece (thirty-eight minutes in total) moving all over the place: there is more happening in this single piece than in much else I heard this week.
For ‘The Great Indoors’ there is a bit more information. First of all, this is a live recording, ‘various tape machines inside a tent. For this version, all the original source tapes were used, and as some had later lives, occasionally something might seem familiar, or not’ (from 2013 at Super Deluxe in Tokyo) and it’s ‘a recreation of shows done throughout Europe and in Toronto, between 1998 and 1994’ (so I may have seen one or two?). Now here everything is in more or less the same place most of them. Lots of sustaining electronics (the drone element), bits of crackling with contact microphones, obscured field recordings and throughout quite an ambient atmosphere. Indeed it sounds like something from inside a location, indeed even perhaps a tent. O’Rourke here is quiet most of the times, but at specific points quite loud also. Another excellent piece.
The last new release of old music is ‘Then Left’, which was recorded in 1999 and which, according to the (only) description works best on speakers, which is something I always do. Here we have an entirely different work. No field recordings, no instruments, but it’s all about electronics, which might be analogue synthesizer of some kind, or maybe something computer like. Maybe thinking 1999… I’d say some kind of synthesizer. The whole, lasting almost an hour, is about short and longer pieces of sound which come in lots of different configurations, each in a specific block, separated by a small gap of silence. None of these blocks have a fixed length, and it makes up a fascinating piece of music, which works best played at a medium volume and let these sounds shimmer freely through your space. For all of these goes that the highest quality is recommended for downloading. (FdW)
Address: http://steamroom.bandcamp.com

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