Marinos Koutsomichalis

JOYFULTALK – MUUIXX (CD by Drip Audio) *
JEAN-CLAUDE ELOY – LE MINUIT DE LA FOI (2CD by Hors Territoires) *
RESONANCIAS (CD compilation by CMMAS)
FAKE  NR 1 (magazine and CDR)

Vital Weekly #985 by Vitalweekly on Mixcloud

tracklist for Vital Weekly 985:

0000 Tune
0014 Joyfultalk – Buschbabies
0317 The Pine-A-Tune Project – The Seagull Revenge
0627 Jean-Claude Eloy – Le Minuit De La Foi
0939 Jason Lescalleet – The Ears Of Midas
1252 Frank Rothkamm
1559 Grisha Shakhnes – Hectic Light (Allemagne-Palestine)
1904 A.F. Jones & Derek Rogers – Repetend/Mistones
2209 Marinos Koutsomichalis – Ereignis #2
2526 Frank Rothkamm
2836 Tune

Behind Joyfultalk we find Jay Crocker, who sometimes works as Ghostkeeper and No More Shapes, but under this (new?) guise he works with homebuilt instruments and analogue treatments. This is more hobby-like music, I gather, as much of his other music deals with blues, jazz and neo-classical pop music. There is some sparkling joy and fun to be noted in the nine pieces on this release. I was thinking ‘oh Drip Audio, well, improvisation’ and to a certain extent there is indeed some level of improvisation to be spotted in here, but that’s only a small portion of it. Much of what he offers here doesn’t sound like analogue treatments, but more like digital sampling of acoustic objects, such as a plucked bass sort of instrument in the opening piece ‘Butterfly 12 Komokyo’, along with some spacious electronics; it makes up quite a vibrant piece of music. Almost like dance music. Sometimes Crocker uses a lot of stereo separation, and that definitely disqualifies it for dance floor playback, but no doubt he’s not after that, even when sampled rhythms play a big role in most of these pieces. Just as easily as he samples a cheesy rhythm in ‘Cargo Face’, he moves back to a deep dub bass in ‘Gym Class’ but overall one could as easily see the influence of electro-acoustic/musique concrete music in here, brought to you with a big grin on his face. There is always that melody in there, sometimes up front, sometimes buried and sometimes chopped to pieces, but the objective doesn’t seem to be to create some amorphous, abstract blurb of sound, but Joyfultalk wants to keep the ‘song structure’ alive in these pieces. This is a more than excellent work, combining a wide variety of interests and musical influences into quite an original work. Also available on vinyl through Backward Music. (FdW)

Since a few years French composer Jean-Claude Eloy is busy with releasing some of his own work on expanded compact discs with tons of liner notes on his own label Hors Territoires. The most recent was ‘Borderlines’ (see Vital Weekly 949) and that was a more recently finished composition. I believe ‘Le Minuit De La Foi’, which translates as ‘The Midnight Of The Faith’, is also a more recent composition. It’s a long piece, spanning 120 minutes, and uses a few bits of text by Edith Stein, a nun from Jewish origin who studied German, philosophy, psychology and history, who was firmly against the nazi regime and who died in Auschwitz in 1942. She wrote about two persons admired by Eloy, St-John Of The Cross and St. Tereas of Avila. Eloy uses only a few excerpts of her writing, about light, death, freedom, God, and uses these voice excerpts (read by Gisela Claudius) to start a vast mass of sound, using software such as Metasynth. That takes up most of the sound sources, but Eloy also uses samples of cowbells and such like, which he also used on ‘Borderlines’. Eloy creates a massive sound here, with long stretched out, dense patterns of sound. Some parts are very dark and low, such as the middle section of ‘Lumiere de L’Aube’, which makes your environment tremble. In part two, ‘Lumiere Crepusculaire’ (which is on the second disc, and which takes fifty minutes) he goes down a bit in volume, but seems to be also the creepier of the two parts. It is a beautiful and yet also scary piece of music. It’s perhaps a bit long, as some parts seem to go on for a bit too long without adding much, but overall this is a great work. Dim any lights in your room and play this at a volume ‘tres haut’, and you’ll be totally immersed by this. Overwhelming in massiveness and length, this is an excellent work. (FdW)

Two new solid, though not earth-shaking works on Hubro. Finland is a Norwegian outfit: Pål Hausken (drums, percussion, vocals), Morten Qvenild (piano, electronics, programming, vocals), Jo Berger Myhre (bass guitar, bariton guitar, electric guitar, vocals) and Ivar Grydeland (electric guitar, banjo, pedal steel guitar, lapsteel, acoustic guitar, vocals). All members participate in other Norwegian bands you may know, partly from other Hubro releases: Myhre works with Splashgir; and Nils petterMolvaer. Grydeland operates also with Huntsville. Hausken en Qvenild both are in In the Country. And Qvenild also in Spacemonkey. As Finland they offer us five tracks of spaced out, guitar dominated rock. Somewhere settled between post rock, shoegaze, ambient, progrock.  A tasty and solid work, with intense and disturbing keyboards from time to time. Evoking melancholic, dreamy moods.  Most of the time instrumental, except for the title track that has some dreamy vocals. With Sky Dive Trio,a also of Norway ,  we remain in similar moods, although there are many differences as well. The trio combines Thomas T. Dahl (guitars), Finnish drummer Olavi Louhivuori and Mats Eilertsen (bass). They know each other from other collaborations, but this is their first statement as a trio. Eilertsen has several solo albums out on Hubro.  Louhivuori is a young drummer who worked already with musicians like Stanko, Braxton, Crispell and Wheeler. Dahl has been a member of Krøyt, Dingobats, og Skomsork and worked with artists like Ephemera and Marion Raven. I guess their album ‘Sun Moee’ shows some continuity with Eilertsen’s album ‘Skydive’(2011) that has Louhivuori and Dahl a.o. playing compositions by Eilertsen. The Sky Dive Trio however seems to be more Dahl’s thing. His jazzy guitar plays a central role in all tracks that are composed by all three members. They also play Portisheads ‘Sour Times’. Overall the music is spaced out and relaxed. Melody and harmony are important ingredients. The closing track, ‘Four words’ is a beautiful final piece and at the same time,  the most experimental piece of the album, a composition by the drummer. (DM)

RESONANCIAS (CD compilation by CMMAS)
There was a party in Mexico, organised by the Mexican Center for Music and Sonic Arts, and to let you (and me) know there was one, some music was pressed onto a CD. No doubt there was a contest as the cover says ‘Premios del concurso Destellos 2008-2013’ – ‘Flashes contest prizes’ says google. Ah, erm. So we have here price winners of these contests, although 2011 and 2013 have then two winners. It contains serious electronic music from Basilio del Boca, Diana Salazar, Adam Stansbie, Panayiotis Kokoras, David Hindmarch, Christian Helm and David Judkovsky. They all play very serious acousmatic music, of treated field recordings, piano sounds, percussion, and all such, creating up and down glissandi, arpeggio’s, echo and reverb and they all sounds alright. Nothing too spectacular, nothing out of the ordinary. Only Judkovsky seems to be playing around with more dynamics: sometimes very quiet and sometimes very loud. This was the only little bit ‘different’ bit. Nice compilation, but as usual the question remains: what is the target audience? (FdW)

From Greek composer Marinos Koutsomichalis I reviewed a bunch of works (Vital Weekly 663, 677, 703, 724, 777), but its quite some time ago. I have no idea what he was up to in the meantime, but I learn from the information that comes with ‘Ereignis’ that he collaborated with Z’EV in a two-hour long track of processed organ recordings. From his earlier work I remember that I was either enamoured by it, or that it didn’t do much for me. Sometimes it seemed too conceptual for my taste, but he explored various different paths into the jungle of electronic music, which is always a good thing. Koutsomichalis doesn’t seem to be staying in one place. ‘Ereignis’ was recorded at EMS in Stockholm, a great place if you want to record some ancient synthesizer, which you can’t afford to buy on your budget, such as a Serge modular and Bucla. Many people go over just to tape a bunch of sounds and take these home and start playing around with those sounds to create a composition. Koutsomichalis worked on the Serge modular but his aim was not to tape a bunch of nice sounds to be used further but he attempted “to “eliminate” himself so that “the machine’s foundational material attributes are eventually accelerated and foregrounded” as we are informed and also that “Ereignis, a Heideggerian term roughly defined as “coming into view”, is reached in a quasi-religious manner through an intoxicating process of self-elimination that eventually leads to the artist’s submission to the machine.” I am not sure how that worked out, but I think he has the machine playing sound and Koutsomichalis sits around and adjusts only when he thinks it’s necessary. This is one of his more conceptual approaches to sound and on ‘Ereignis #2’, the B-side, it works out all right. The crackle-drone works and works, even cuts out twice but ends on a very loud note. Not bad, but not great either, but it was better, I thought than ‘Ereignis 1’ on the other side. Here it is more a matter of ‘have synth will doodle’. There are indeed lots of knobs to fiddle with on such a beast of machine. But composing with the actual sounds seems a bit more difficult. This side didn’t do much for me as a result. (FdW)

Packed in a gate-fold sleeve of the more sturdier type, with golden letters and drawings of the three artists’ faces, comes a recording made on June 18 2014 in Evreux, France of a trio of French musicians, of various generations. We find on stage Kasper T. Toeplitz (bass and electronics), Jac Berrocal (trumpet, voice) and Jean-Noël Cognard on drums and objects. I never heard of the latter, and Berrocal has been around for a long time, even when his name is not always to be found in these pages; Toeplitz on the other hand is a regular guest here. Berrocal is perhaps best known to the Vital weekly audience as someone who inspired and played on Nurse With Wound’s ‘Rock N Roll Station’. It’s also a track that is featured on this LP. We start out however with ‘Remous Ecumants’, a four-minute blast of improvised noise. That’s not how the other four pieces work on this record. All of these pieces have quite an amount of delay on the trumpet’s microphone, which gives the music a fine psychedelic element; it wails about from left to right, from top to bottom and back again. The same treatment is used on his voice in ‘Rock ‘N Roll Station’, but that is less impressive. The instrumental pieces are the more impressive ones. Toeplitz’ bass sounds like a proper distorted rock bass and Cognard’s drums is at times very furious too, more free perhaps than banging out rock rhythms. This is all quite wild and sometimes it doesn’t work out that well, but then on other instances it does very well. Luckily I think those are in majority here. (FdW)

The fourth instalment of this series brings us again four relatively unknown groups operating in the field of drone music. Just like when Drone Records brought us 100 7″s from sometimes very unknown bands, this LP serves as an introduction. The only name I recognized was Jeremie Mathes, who had releases on Mystery Sea, Bass Frequences, Unfathomless and Taalem (see Vital Weekly 762, 777, 872 and 890). We also have the talents of Roman Kharkovsky, Iliou Persis and Kirill Platonkin. The latter is from Blagoveshchensk (the very east Amur Region of Russia) and he starts with two pieces for guitar and sound effects, but he uses a very straightforward recording method, which has no fades at the beginning or the ending. That sounds odd, but it gives the music a more direct, in your face feeling, which is a bit of a change for once. Mathes is also on the first side of this record and like much of his previous work he is world of drones can be found in the real world, taking his source material from a large reverberant metal tank. In this tank he throws around his objects in a very careful manner and slowly building an extra wall of electronic sounds inside this tank, thus further alienating the sound. From Portugal we have Iliou Persis, who is also an anthropologist. His piece is the one I seemed to like least. Humming voices, sampled animal sounds and a fair bit of pseudo-ethnic percussion; all of this sounds all right, but not very imaginative. Maybe this was all too much of a Rapoon imitation I thought. The record closes with the first Pakistan drone artist I heard of, Roman Kharkovsky, and yes, I agree that sounds more Ukranian, but that’s where he finds his inspiration. His music is perhaps the most ‘traditional’ sounding drone music of this lot. Long washes of sustaining sounds, derived from what could be guitars, or synthesizers and tons of sound effects, which works out in ‘Dark And Blue Full Mon Night On The Bank Of Dnieper River’ is a more quiet and subdued manner, and in ‘When I Became The Clouds Above Kremenchuk’ in a vivid, imaginative way, with hints of percussion. In total: another great addition to the series: more new names to explore. (FdW)

Years and years ago I was in contact, I think, with the guys from Macronympha and it’s off shoot One Dark Eye, but I have not been keeping this contact warm or followed the careers of it’s various members. Rodger Stella, the man behind One Dark Eye, also works under his own name, but I am not too sure what makes the difference between say One Dark Eye and this solo work. On this 7″, released by Swedish I Dischi Del Barone, he offers noise music without the obvious levels of distortion but thanks to the extended use of delay pedals, sounds fly in and out, and that creates a slightly more psychedelic sound. Maybe there is a bunch of Dictaphone recordings with electronic sounds and some cruder forms of field recordings at play here, set against a fierce background of firmly distorted noise – a wall as far as we can see, but it’s from some distance. These two pieces fit the 7″ quite well – they don’t sound like being culled out of a bigger piece, as it happens sometimes with noise. (FdW)

As stretched as they come, luckily not on a daily basis, there is during the twenty-four hours of ‘Wiener Process’ lots and lots to think about. Here are lots and lots of notes. I hope.
1. While playing disc one I thought, ‘oh no, this is super minimal and nothing is going to happen in the next 24 hours’. It consists of just a very low-end tone, which didn’t seem to change. Let’s quick try another one, number 12, and see what happened in between. A lot actually, since here we have something vaguely orchestral. Let’s go back to disc two.
2. Checking the online data stream, I think one just pops in somewhere and it’s playing from there on, maybe in a loop?
3. One could decide not to play this at all, and just have the box on display on your coffee table. It looks great. Transparent, with neat stack on CDRs and a print on them. On every CDR the number left out that is the number of the disc.
4. This is one piece of music. The first hour is just the fade in, the extended fade in of one hour. Already in the second hour things change.
5. Is everything that I read about Frank Rothkamm really true? Married three times, and appeared with his second wife in Playboy magazine? Composing two soundtracks for George Lucas’ ‘Star wars 3D’ trailers? Licencing the Flux Records (his label) catalogue to ringtone providers? The destruction of his archive in a fire, but he released his ‘first syntheastic film […] after he passed out on a flight from New York to Copenhagen.
6. Something the switch from one CDR to another seems quite abrupt.
7. Rothkamm suffers from tinnitus and following that diagnosis he formulated “psychostochchastics as a reserach discipline and methods of composition. The first public result is ‘Wiener Process’, a 24 hour 24 part Csound score written in 3 computer languages’.
8. Twenty-four separate pieces?
9. Field recordings. Ocean waves. (disc 05)
10. By the time I reached disc 08 I knew it was not one piece, but twenty-four different ones. This one was particular ‘orchestral’, with string and wind instruments clearly recognizable but stretched out a bit.
11. From 10. follows that what it says on the press text that it ‘is designed for low-volume headphone listening can co-exist with any other music or sound environment or simply function as auditory clock’ didn’t work for well. I tried listening to this with headphones and while listening to other music, and/or watching a movie, and indeed I can imagine that for some of these parts in this box it would maybe work, but not for the one I just heard.
12. Minimalism is taken to a new height here I would think. Not just of the massive amount of music, even when that has been done before (and more of course), but also in the actual pieces itself. In many of these the influence of modern classical music is very clear, but it’s all curiously stretched out. It sometimes reminded me of Phil Niblock but then stripped down.
13. When I reached number 17 I had this feeling that I should have taken in account that maybe, just maybe I was supposed to listen to this as if it was a day. So number 1 at twelve o’clock at night, very quiet, and during the day I had classical music, computer music and such like, and now it’s 16:00 to 17:00 and I am listening to the droning of a stoove? Maybe it’s dinnertime? And while eating – an hour later – there is more classical music, followed by an hour of more intense computer music.
14. Just what has ‘Vienna’ (Wien!) got to do with this, I was thinking? Is there something connection to the music and the city? Maybe there is the ghost of Schonberg, Berg and Webern in some of these pieces?; or is there any other connection to the world of modern classical music.
15. Towards the end, it’s evening time by now, we have a couple of ‘louder’ discs, with heavy drone music – not noise in the traditional sense of course, but compared to some of the other discs, surely quite heavy.
16. Number 23 is three seconds longer than any of the other discs, which clock in at exactly sixty minutes. I am sure we should not read anything in that.
17. And then 24… everything is quiet again. Now what? I didn’t play this box in one go, one day, one cycle of 24 hours, but now what? Have this on repeat for eternity? Or pick my favourites – surely the more abstract computer ones, some of the orchestral ones, which were minimal drone affairs and the very quiet ones and put those on repeat? Or never play this again and leave it on my (imaginary) coffee table?
18. Some many considerations.
19. To be followed? Perhaps not. Better not. Probably.
20. (FdW)

By now the third release by Grisha Shakhnes, of whom I don’t know that much. He worked as Mites and then had his debut LP released by Glistening Examples (see Vital Weekly 880) and then a CD for Organized Music From Thessaloniki, but now he returns to the label who did his debut. I am not sure if we should regard the title as a stab at the fact that this is released on a CDR rather than a LP or CD. Maybe it refers to other ‘trouble’? I don’t know. On his previous CD it was clear what he was doing: mixing field recordings together, but on his LP there was also a bit of electronics, but on both of these releases Shakhnes shows us certainly a love for all things ‘raw’. Nothing seems to be recorded with particular refinement, and that’s something I enjoy very much. Not that I don’t like refinement, but so much of what we get to hear these days is very refined and it’s good to have something else every now and then, and Shakhnes does certainly something strange. He tapes his field recordings onto cassettes and then mixes these together with quite some force, but he never gets to be very noisy. It all remains on the ‘decent’ side of things. Drone like in ‘Counterpoint’, which sounds like a motorboat journey across a small lake, or even very quite on ‘March 18, 2015’. The electronics here emphasize parts, add colouring to the music or simply take care of a lockdown and keep repeating them selves, such as in the minimal ‘Hectic Light (Allemagne-Palestine)’, with a bit of repeating keyboard notes (maybe the title gave that away, I was thinking). In the title piece there is also some treated cello recording. More than on his previous releases it seems that Shakhnes has a lot more variation on this time. At some forty-plus minutes I’d say this is no trouble at all. It’s a great release.
A.F. Jones had one release before this collaborative one and I never heard of him before. Derek Rogers however is someone we reviewed a couple of time before, with a variety of interest. His more recent releases showed interest in a musique concrete approach to the guitar, like a noisier version of the early Main sound. Whatever these two are doing on this release is hard to say; I can assume that Rogers is playing his guitar and effects like he does on his solo releases but for Jones? Who knows? The whole thing is quite an exercise in heavy tone experiments. Deep penetrating sound waves, which in three of the four pieces work out pretty ambient; not the ambient that necessarily lulls you into deep sleep modus, but ‘Parallal (Final Movement)’ proofs us that it can be in a near standstill, piercing right into your head. In ‘Repetend/Mistones’ we hear shimmering foghorns, gliding up and down a scale, and in ‘Tedium Betided’ a variation of that, but then more improvised, certainly towards the end. Only in ‘Ferrograft’ it works in a very noisy way, with sounds and tones cutting together, bursting apart and taken a new. It sort of breaks the more ‘gentle’ flow of the other three pieces and is perhaps a bit on the long side, I was thinking. But throughout I enjoyed its consistent experimentation with steady tones and minimalist sound effects. In terms of drone music this was something else for once, and that was great.
Label boss Jason Lescalleet started ‘This Is What I Do’ as an overview of not easy to get historical pieces, but then quickly became into a series of releases documenting a month of activities. Number Seven (I didn’t hear all of these) is what Lescalleet did in March of 2015, and that included a trip to Greece, which I think is what is documented here. Touring can be tiresome, with waiting and all that, but one also can find the time to do more recording; new field recordings from a new place, but just set up in a hotel room and do new music. Maybe that’s how Jason Lescalleet culls these things together into monthly diaries of new music. No doubt some of this is taped in concert, and some of it as an impromptu field recording or maybe during a sound check; maybe the ‘Borderline remix’ of Bronski Beat’s ‘Small Town Boy’ at a much slower speed should be seen as such; a joke perhaps? Let’s hope so. Luckily in other pieces Lescalleet is much more serious and plays some of the finest dark ambience music, such as ‘Eleven Years Ago’, with a plundered record of some kind and in the longest piece ‘The Ears Of Midas’ and in the second part of ‘Eleven Years Ago’ adding a bunch of dogs on tape, and the lowest form of sampling, going into one bit sampling and some great use of sound effects. An excellent diary of a month of sound activities. Life can’t always be serious, as is proven here, but most of the time it is. Excellent document of time well spend. (FdW)

From the world of Guignol Dangereux, recently (Vital Weekly 938) resurrected, but long before that part of the world that was the busy world of CDR labels (Tib Prod and Simple Logic), we get a third sign of new life. These days he plays the handpan. On ‘Rhythms Of Trance’ (Vital Weekly 938) he plays trance music, like in techno music, but then all acoustic, whereas with ‘Rave Days Are Over’ (vital Weekly 966) the music is electronic and inspired by the 80s underground. No electronics, it seems, are to be found on the duo he has these days with Simone Campani on bouzouki and Guignol Dangereux on handpan and percussions. They call themselves The Pine-A-Tune Project and there is indeed a folky aspect to their music, mainly, I think through the use of Bouzouki. I quite enjoyed this release, at least for some time. But it has fifteen pieces and it lasts fifty-three minutes. That I thought was a bit long for what they had to offer. A certain uniform approach to using both instruments is what in the end made me like this a lot less. Certainly the first thirty or so minutes I thought this was really good; it made a big difference with lots of the other music that I review and this difference provided me a fine anti-dote to all of that. But then more proved not to be as good; more became too much I think. That was a pity. Just because one can fill up an entire disc doesn’t necessarily mean one has to. Make your own selection and you have perfectly great release. (FdW)

Reviewing software is not something we do a lot, but I did so in Vital Weekly 845, when discussing a thing called ‘ambient v.03’, released by Audiobulb. That was back in 2012 and I still use that; I told you in the review: I am lazy. It’s still a great tool to quickly transform sounds before recognition and use these building blocks in a great composition. Now Audiobulb releases a new bit of software, developed by Francesco Gagliardi, again using max/msp/cycling 74 and completely design to look great. It’s inspired by the work of Jules Antoine Lissajous (1822-1880), who was fascinated by making vibrations visible, such as holding a tuning fork below the water surface. He gave name to figures – I am no mathematician, so I can’t possibly summarize what wikipedia says on this subject. The software is both visual and audio. There is a keyboard path and oscillators, which you can change and then line/stripes/dots – whatever you selected – will alter along the new frequency range. All of this is very sensitive, even when it’s not yet possible to control these with a mid-keyboard. Everything is in very cool black and white which looks great. It needs some practice I think to see which preset you like best and then you can start playing around it. It would be great if you could link the visual side to any sound input from yourself, so you could play to be your own Alva Noto/Ryoji Ikeda sound and visual. There is a possibility to record the audio/visual output in a variety of formats so you can further edit the results. I had a lovely afternoon playing around with this, but I wondered if I am the right audience. I’d like to take this into the territory of my own music and create something that sounds less sine wave like and I wish it had more options to compose with it. Nevertheless more computer minded artists surely would get more out this than I would. (FdW)

FAKE  NR 1 (magazine and CDR)
Already some weeks ago I received the latest issue of Dutch magazine Fake, the proper new, first issue, after a restart in smaller size some weeks ago (see Vital Weekly 966). Wim van den Herik returns to A4 size and interveiws GW Sok (former Ex chansonnier), Berlinized, Gifgrond, Droppings, Hunter Complex (of which I saw an excellent concert last week), Spoelstra, Stinksisters, Yuri Landman, Logosamphia, Bertin, King Champion Sounds, Hanin Elias and much more. All of these come to us via interviews revealing a close connection between the interviewer and the musician. It is all very personal, which is of course the important thing for a fanzine. Enclosed is a CDR that has a very concise track list – my copy of the magazine sees some names crossed out, so there is some confusion in that department. Lots of free jazz noise, distorted guitars, some synthesizer music, from Hunter Complex again, noise from DHASaVC – best is to keep looking here for a more correct track listing: It makes a fine audio guide while going through the 52 pages of this magazine. They don’t make ‘m like this anymore. (FdW)
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