Le son a Grisli

ASMUS TIETCHENS & OKKO BEKKER – E (CD by Die Stadt/Auf Abwegen) *
BCH+C – LIVE: TAKING A SHOT (cassette by Small Scale Music)
ELLWOOD EPPS & YVES CHARUEST – LA PASSE (cassette by Small Scale Music)
MILITARY POSITION – ANTI-HUMAN (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)
LE SON A GRISLI – A 2004-2014 RETROSPECTIVE (e-book)

Vital Weekly #973 by Vitalweekly on Mixcloud

tracklist for Vital Weekly 972:

0000 Tune
0014 Stick In The Window – Common Ground
0334 Asmus Tietchens & Okko Bekker – Musik Im Deutschen Imbiss
0638 Huntsville (ER)
0948 Nick Mott – Gates Of The Destroyer
1258 Marsen Jules – Chahatlin
1604 Nørstebø & Strid & De Heney
1906 Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson & BJ Nilsen
2214 Tune

‘Pond’ is already the sixth album by Huntsville, a trio of Ivar Grydeland (electric guitar, pedal steel and electronics), Ingar Zach (percussion, timpani) and Tonny Kluften (bass). We only reviewed two of the previous releases (Vital Weekly 892 and 781), but I enjoyed both of them a lot. They have been going since 2006 and played over 100 concerts and worked with other people. I quite enjoyed those previous releases and this one as well. It was recorded and mixed in the space of one week, which is… short? Long? I don’t know. It’s improvised music for sure, so what there’s to mix, you could say, other than creating a balance between the instruments. But then, Huntsville is not necessarily your standard improvisation group, with a bit of jazz elements thrown in somewhere all along. What they do goes above and beyond the idiom of improvised music. Just as easily one could say the approach drone music (drone rock) even from their vantage point, or put an improvisational edge towards krautrock. Here we have four lengthy pieces, from ten to fifteen minutes, which all explore in their own calm way these interests and even more. The pedal steel in ‘(ING)’ for instance make it spacious Americana, but the bass is on a jazzy streak, whereas the percussion is on a slowly expanding roll. Huntsville – the name sounds like Americana I was thinking – still has a somewhat darker undercurrent, like the soundtrack for a film noir. The electronics used expand this soundtrack element even a bit further, stretching things out further down the line. Third excellent release by this great trio and counting. (FdW)
Address: http://hubromusic.com

The Inuit have, apparently, many words for what we call ‘snow’. Marsen Jules uses eight of them on his new album ‘The Empire Of Silence’ (which sounds more like something outta Star Wars). Maybe snow equals silence for Jules, because otherwise I am not sure what silence has to do with this highly ambient album. When it has snowed (and luckily for me that doesn’t happen a lot here) it seems that everything is a bit more quiet, so perhaps Marsen Jules has similar experiences; or he simply likes cold climates. Jules plays ambient music using, I think, samples of string instruments, which are played together and has this vaguely modern classical sound to it. I must admit a few things: I like Jules’ music to a certain extend; just to hear every now and then, but it never seems to go beyond that. Once it’s gone, it’s gone and I don’t want to go back straight away; entertaining, pleasant, but nothing out of the ordinary. I don’t think it’s super original, highly innovative, anything new, and perhaps a bit easily made: a few samples lines from a bunch of violins and a cello, cut short to make a fine loop, not beyond the threshold. Maybe something out of an Arvo Part recording, or Gorecki or perhaps something Jules has generated himself. Whatever is this the case really. Jules plays aural wallpaper and perhaps not the kind of ambient music that Brian Eno was thinking about: not to be ignored, whereas Jules’ music might be ignorable, especially when played on a more regular volume. Now here’s a thought: I would not be surprised if it is Jules’ ambition to have his music played in an auditorium by a large ensemble for strings. As such a release like ‘The Empire Of Silence’ is a fine calling card for such an enterprise. I like it, but I am not the biggest fan. (FdW)
Address: http://oktaf.com

In Vital Weekly 807 I discussed a one-sided 7″ by Nick Mott, perhaps my first encounter with his solo music, an all too brief, introduction to his music. With the release of ‘Here Begins The Great Destroyer’, I have much better idea about it. The only thing I know about Nick Mott is that he’s a member of Volcano The Bear, of whom I saw a great concert a few years ago; very vibrant and fresh with lots of instruments being used, as well as much attention for the use of on stage, real time tape manipulation. The rhythmic element I detected in the 7″ is also present here, but it’s not played on strictly percussive instruments; it can also be instruments played rhythmically, or music cut into repeating loops. Like in the music of Volcano The Bear, this too shows a strong influence from Nurse With Wound and not just one particular variation of the Nurse, but all of them. There is the droney version (in ‘664-668’), the radical cut-up of ‘The Host’, the manipulated voices, the surrealist element and the tape-manipulation techniques used. But in all of this, as said, there is a rhythmic element to be detected. Loudly, quietly: it’s here and it’s nice. It gives the surrealist music a fresh new outlook and Nick Mott has created an excellent album of ten quite varied songs, which stick together quite well. If you liked Volcano The Bear, then I am sure Nick Mott solo might be something that you would need to explore too; but perhaps also if you like Nurse With Wound, The Residents, This Heat or the experimental rockist agenda in general and you are hungry for a new name, Nick Mott is someone to look out for. (fdW)
Address: http://www.lumberton-trading.net

ASMUS TIETCHENS & OKKO BEKKER – E (CD by Die Stadt/Auf Abwegen)
The re-issue program of old Asmus Tietchens records should have been long finished by now, but slowly we are getting there, as things move slower than anticipated. ‘E’ doesn’t stand for the drug of the same name, nor for ‘Elektronik’ but for ‘Ernste’ music, which means music to be taken serious. It differs from ‘U’ music, ‘Unterhaltung’, which is entertainment music. ‘U’ was the bonus 7″ that came with the original LP, released by Dom Records in 1987. The cover shows us early photos of herrn Asmus Tietchens and his high school buddy Okko Bekker, who went on to found his own studios, Audiplex, in which Tietchens has worked ever since, and that’s by now a long time. In his studio Bekker produces mostly F-music, which stands for ‘Funktionelle’ music – music for films and advertisement. Neither Bekker not Tietchens are really ‘E’ or ‘U’ composers. Tietchens comes from a non-academic background and ‘E’ is of course all about academics. When I bought this on vinyl so many years ago I wasn’t too impressed. I didn’t know at that time too much about Tietchens and that perhaps this was all a bit tongue in cheek and for me it sounded all a bit more serious indeed. There are pieces here in which we hear a clarinet and electronic tape playing in what seemed to me a rather traditional way – such as ‘Zu Traurigem Behuf’ or ‘Studie Fur Bassklarinette und Zuspielband’. It sounded like Michael Otto and Conrad Schnitzler’s ‘Micon In Italia’, released around the same time and which I also never got into. So from the Tietchens records, this is the one I didn’t play a lot and can’t remember I last heard it. But pieces like ‘Repartition Concrete’ sounds now like classic Tietchens music, circa ‘Abfleischung’. ‘Kinematograph’ reminds me of ‘Zwinburgen des Hedonismus’ and has a nice yet fake, orchestral hint to it. Exactly the tongue in cheek this album perhaps is. I remember that back then the bonus 7″ ‘U’ was highly appreciated by me, and ‘Musik In Deutschen Imbiss’ – great title, and it spells ‘midi’, which I didn’t realize back then – still sounds as cheesy as it was back then. Great song! Perhaps of interesting note to those who hate CD re-issues are the final two exclusive bonus pieces on this CD. Two pieces Bekker and Tietchens recorded for Dutch national radio, the radio play ‘Wasser Will’ and which Tietchens at one point said it would never be released in it’s entire form, so I have to do with the hissy recording on cassette taped off the radio, but it’s good to have two excerpts on CD now. It has Tietchens experimenting with early computer technology and treatments of water sounds, which don’t sound like anything on his ‘Hydrophonie’ pieces. I am not sure if ‘E’ will ever be a more favourite Tietchens release, but it was interesting to hear it again after so many years and change my opinion a bit. (FdW)
Address: http://www.diestadtmusik.de http://www.aufabwegen.de

Trolleybus is an Amsterdam-based improv-trio of Yedo Gibson (saxophones, horn), Nora Mulder (piano) and Renato Ferreira (double bass). Gibson and Ferreira both come from Sao Paulo. Ferreira studied composition at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, and is active as an improviser in Europe as well as in his hometown Sao Paolo. Gibson first took London as a base where he was taking part in the London Improvisers Orchestra. This inspired him to start the Royal Improvisers Orchestra (RIO) with Amsterdam-based improvisers, Ferreira being one of them. Mulder has roots in classical as well as improvised music. She was member of Cor Fuhlers Corkestra. Trolleybus started in 2011. In 2012 they released ‘Non Dondolarsi’ their first statement. ‘Buiten dienst’ the follow up contains nine short but concentrated improvisations, recorded at the beginning of 2014 in the Splendor, Amsterdam. Playfully these birds jump from one branch to another. Percussive-like playing by reed player Gibson, Mulder who uses extended techniques, virtuoso playing by Ferreira as in track ‘7’. Their improvisations are full of fantasy and humour. Influences of modern composed music and theatre are evident. Fine communicative twists, amusing situations and funny rallies in an excellent recording. (DM)
Address: http://trolleybustrio.wordpress.com/

The print on the cover of this CD is rather hard to read, but this is a band from Gdansk, a city of which its cultural elite paid for this CD. This CD is also to be released, shortly, on cassette by Blue Tapes. I am not sure why all of this (the release on cassette, the sponsoring from the city of Gdansk) is necessary, as Trupa Trupa sound to me like a rock band, of which I can’t think nothing else than: this is a rock band, they can make a bit of money by playing concerts? It’s one of those things where I scratch my head and think: why on earth did they think it was a good idea to send a copy to Vital Weekly, not very well-known for its honest reviews of honest rock music, a field that they never thought as their own? I have nothing of worthy note to report on this release. (FdW)
Address: http://www.trupatrupa.com

Straight away I will ‘confess’ that I didn’t play this release back to back, even without knowing what was to be on both discs. But I read the information first and then decided that playing all one hundred minutes in one go was perhaps a bit much. In may 2011 trombonist Henrik Nørstebø did his exam at the Academy of music in Gothenburg and as he had played with Nina de Heney (double bass) before in a duo and with Raymond Strid (drums) on another occasion, he thought it would be good to play as a trio. All three are active participants in the world of improvised music. Apart from a sound check they didn’t play together before going on stage but there was an immediate click between the three of them when they started playing and from then they have been playing concerts. Captured here are two recordings, March 29 2014 in Vienna and March 30 2014 in Oslo. There is unmistakably a free-jazz element to this music, running through all of this and sometimes is quite close to ‘real’ jazz, but most of the time they are more abstract and meandering about. ‘Wien’ seemed the jazzier version of the two concerts, especially in the first part, with a jazzy ending after longer and quieter ‘Wien 2’. ‘Oslo’ seemed a bit more abstract throughout; exploring the instruments in different ways than just a trombone, drum kit or double bass, emphasizing more space, more silence, taking more time to explore certain themes. The five pieces that made up ‘Oslo’ were, at least, for more intense, crafting more dynamics and more extended techniques to play their instruments, making this a more fascinating journey than the perhaps more straight forward free jazz of ‘Wien’. (FdW)
Address: http://www.vafongool.no

Here are two men who work together a lot, sometimes as BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa (which acts a duo of Sigmarsson & Helgi Thorson) or in the wider configuration of Evil Madness and now as Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson & BJ Nilsen, for the first time as such it seems. Although they have a jokey side, ‘Avantgardegasse’ is a funny title for a fake small street, they are very serious as to what they do, and what they do they always do well. Compared with some of their earlier work together, which seemed to evolve around large portions of drone music, it seems that this one is more about field recordings, going through all sorts of sound devices, both in the analogue and digital domain, and cut together in the best traditions of the ‘true’ (whatever that constitutes of) avant-garde.  Cut occasionally to shortish industrial loops, such as the opening minute of side A, but also going to a microsound-low, with hums and footsteps in an alley, slowly building into a mightier crescendo, before cutting into something else. The drones, however, are not forgotten here, and also form part of this, albeit a bit smaller; the second half of the B-side is all about this, which is heavily processed church organ sounds, decreasing in density and volume until this side runs out. This is not necessarily ‘avant-garde’ in the classical sense of the word, but I thought this was a great record; it moves a bit away from the earlier pure drone music and grows slowly into something else; perhaps something which is also familiar if you know much of their solo work, but it works exquisitely well. (FdW)
Address: http://ultraeczema.bandcamp.com/

Back in Vital Weekly 695 I sang private praise for ‘The Maria Dimension’, for me the defining moment of The Legendary Pink Dots when I reviewed ‘The Maria Sessions’, a CDR with session material, which culminated eventually into that great album. Now the original CD and the sessions are released as a 5LP set with an extra LP with bonus tracks; pieces that were released on a 3″CD with the first few copies of the original release. For years after 1991 I played ‘The Maria Dimension’ a lot and for a lot of years only sparsely, but yet today, playing these on vinyl, I still know every song by heart, almost every lyric, but it sounds fresh: dusted off. Raymond Steeg did an excellent job on re-mastering this. With the few other Pink Dots fans I know we sometimes have discussions what is their best period/album/whatever, and for me it’s their really stuff, this CD and much of their more experimental work. Playing this, it’s not easy to say why exactly this album is so good – for me that is. It has a fine psychedelic sound, ringing through the guitar of the sadly missed Bob Pistoor, but also the synthesizers, the rhythm machines, the various effects on Ka-spel’s voice and the supporting horn sounds by Niels van Hoorn, which perhaps back then was new and a fresh, and not wailing about as he did on some of the later works. I am not sure when the last time is that I played ‘The Maria Dimension’, but very much to my surprise every song on this double LP sounded familiar, that sensation of something that something old is carved so deep in my mind. Following that the next double LP (two of them in gate fold sleeves, one in a regular sleeve) with sessions, which are of course partly a bit familiar as one of the LPs was released earlier as a CDR, but taking the listener into a much atmospheric territory; no vocals, but lots of synthesizers, guitars with e-bows and heavily electronically processed saxophone sounds, crafting a fine psychedelic sound, following which we arrive in the bonus LP, which is, on one side, the old 3″CD, which I am sure I didn’t hear in a long time, but here too recognition was all around. It made the ‘trip’ from song to ambient to song complete, and the other side of the bonus LP had all sorts of snippets of sounds, ideas and sketches, which made a fine and fitting coda. Excellent design, great box, expensive but worth your every penny. (FdW)
Address: http://www.soleilmoon.com/

There is no information with this 7″, but ‘Common Ground’ is, in my humble opinion, a great song. There is rough female voice, some duelling banjos and a bass drum being stamped on, with a tambourine. Folk music? Yes, maybe, but then of more cruder kind, more angry, almost like an acoustic folk/punk kind. I wasn’t paying that much attention to the lyrics, simply because I never do, but this brought a smile on my face. I have no idea what this is, but it sounded great. ‘Hasp’ on the other side is a more moody tune, longer also, with double tracked voices and a sparser use of the banjo or perhaps zither; it’s a soaring tune and perhaps one that makes your outlook on life a bit sadder? You know: I might be entirely wrong about this sort of thing. I love that A-side and the other side too, but perhaps on a different level. (FdW)
Address: http://www.staticcaravan.org/

BCH+C – LIVE: TAKING A SHOT (cassette by Small Scale Music)
ELLWOOD EPPS & YVES CHARUEST – LA PASSE (cassette by Small Scale Music)
Two new cassette releases from the Canadian Small Scale Music specialized in improvised music. This relatively new label has a good taste for new, relevant improvised music, as these two releases prove. BCH + C is Chris Burns (guitar, drums), Nicolas Caloia (bass) and John Heward (drums) plus guest Yves Charuest (sax). This is a live recording of a sparkling meeting of these four Canadians. All four of them are new to me. They make up a good team, stimulating themselves into very intense and dynamic interactions. It is a very to the point improvisation of about 30 minutes. Above all their music is about free improvisation, but there is a rock attitude incorporated in their explorations. On ‘La Passe’ we meet Charuest again, now in the company of trumpet player Ellwood Epps. Both met in Nicolas Caloia’s Ratchet Orchestra around 2011, although they were on the Montréal scene for some time already. Anyway, what counts is they did meet, and, as this release proves, this worked out very well. It led to some very inspired and spirited improvised dialogues. An absolutely a great work of very rich and well-balanced improvisations. (DM)
Address: http://smallscalemusic.wordpress.com/

MILITARY POSITION – ANTI-HUMAN (cassette by Trapdoor Tapes)
This might very well be the first release on Trapdoor Tapes which cover is not black and white Xerox but black on pink paper. The usual no information cover to be precise. Military Position – a band? a project? one person? – has four tracks on ‘Anti-Human’, which, and that’s not unusual for this label, display a fine knowledge of all things old and industrial. Here we have the far away vocals, low in the mix, half sung, half spoken, a bit of delay, set against a repeating low end synth two-tone drone, or a single note drone in ‘Destruction And Abuse’; just in case you were wondering how much there would be inside Military Position. There is perhaps always something to find, historically, to compare such things to, and for Military Position I was thinking of the good ol’ Belgium duo Etat Brut, even when Military Position’s music is an even more lo-fi recording. There is surely more to be made out of this, without altering the sound necessarily. Just make it louder and everything becomes more powerful and menacing! Unless of course there is good, solid ground for copying this music on such a low volume, but I can’t think of any. That’s a pity, as it seems there is some unfulfilled promise here. (FdW)
Address: <trapdoortapes@hotmail.com>

LE SON A GRISLI – A 2004-2014 RETROSPECTIVE (e-book)
Last week I reviewed some bandcamp releases by Jim O’Rourke and as a result I had to answer about ten mails of other people telling me how glad they were I did that and if I could write about their bandcamp, ‘cos I have lots on there’, which is a particular mood killer. As there is no income, no advertising and very little coming in as a donation, and this is not a hobby, but still partly enthusiastic about music, I think we can do whatever we like, and that includes writing about something that needs your attention, like Jim O’Rourke releases on bandcamp or this book. It’s a long intro to write about this 800+ e-book by Guillaume Belhomme, which is to celebrate 10 years of a publication called ‘Le Son Du Grisli’, which happens, unfortunately, to be all in French, a language which I have mastered only rudimentary in high school and never fully practice. But browsing through all these pages I gather that the cover much the same territory as Vital Weekly, perhaps more jazz than we do, but otherwise there is also lots of noise, rock, electro-acoustic music, drones and all that. A truly great archive of resources. So, consider this another free review and you fork out 5 euros and order your online copy here: (FdW)
Address: http://www.scopalto.com/magazine/le-son-du-grisli



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