Vital Weekly 991

Miguel A. García

RYAN HUBER – ASTOR (CDR by Inam Records) *
SÖLL – CÄVV (CDR by Esc Rec) *
ARCANE DEVICE – N.14 01.07.15 (3″CDR by Pulsewidth) *
RICHARD GARET – 60′ CASSETTE (cassette by The Helen Scarsdale Agency)
RADIOSON (cassette by The Helen Scarsdale Agency)

Vital Weekly #991 by Vitalweekly on Mixcloud

tracklist for Vital Weekly 991:

0000 Tune
0014 Ryan Huber – Star Chamber
0323 Modern Music Mechanics – Sonar
0603 Söll – Pärt
0856 Iron Fist Of The Sun – The Disappearing Chair
1204 Coppice – Snow
1509 Kerovnian – Before the Oblivion
1813 Suspicion Breeds Confidence – Le Flon Fleisch
2118 Arcane Device
2426 Ulrich Krieger – III Movement
2736 Nadia Spier vs Nad Spiro – ObservacionL Naves
3042 Jakob Draminsky Højmark – Musique D’Ameublement
3351 Tune

Here we have quite a radical work by Ulrich Krieger, a US composer born in Germany. His primary instrument is the saxophone, and he recorded works by John Cage and Phill Niblock and also worked with Merzbow and Zbigniew Karkowski as well as the very silent posse of the Wandelweiser group. ‘Winters In The Abyss’ is part of a large work composed by Krieger called ‘Deep Sea Cycle’ and on this CD we find the first five pieces. It’s performed by Matt Barbier (trombone), Zara Rivera (French horn) and Paul Rivera (contrabass trombone). “Winters in the Abyss takes the fictional undertone series, an upside-down overtone series, as its compositional material. Analogue to water pressure, the density of pitches is higher in the lower range and gets thinner in the upper range”, it says information-wise and it’s a very minimal work. Unlike say Phill Niblock, who cuts any sound from instruments like these short so we don’t hear the blowing into the instrument, Krieger allows these sounds to be part of it. What this trio plays is actually short phrases and it’s hard to see the other thing mentioned: “Numbered in order of their composition, the movements from V to I follow the sinking of this material from light flooded, warm near-surface waters to high pressure, pitch black and extreme cold deep-sea trenches”. The gradual change from the opening ‘V Sun Lit’ to the closing ‘I Pitch Black’ is best noted when you play them back-to-back and skip the three pieces in between.  However if you play the whole thing in one go, which I think it is supposed to be this gradual darkening goes much slower and it makes up a fascinating trip. There are no overtones, no lengthy sustaining sounds but these three short lines being repeated over and over in ever slow changing configurations. It’s all very consistent and not the easiest releases, but nevertheless a most rewarding release. (FdW)

Here we have two sides of the ambient/industrial coin. As it was early morning still, I started out with Kerovnian, the musical project of Vlad K., who played in black metal bands, but as Kerovnian he dabbles with very dark ambient music. It started out to support music for poetry evenings of his best friends. Kerovnian released two albums, ‘Far beyond, Before The Time’ in 1999 and ‘From The Depths Of Haron’ in 2001, and both were released by Cold Spring, who now also re-issue the debut album along with four bonus pieces. I assume, no information in that respect on the cover, Vlad uses a bunch of synths, lots of sound effects and a microphone; the latter to pick up any sort of rumbling from objects, but also to tape down something that comes from way down a throat. No singing, no chanting, just something from way down the vocal chords. It’s pushed towards the back and not present in every song, but it is unmistakably there. Much of this reminded me of Lustmord’s ‘Heresy’ landmark in the field of cavernous dark ambient music, but this is equally good. Very mysterious, with these obscured percussive blasts, a choir of angels, these odd voice coming from the deep end, the synths playing ominous dark tunes, most of the times in a strict drone manner, but sometimes also with a small melody, such as the organ in ‘From The Land Where The Winds Die’. It’s all the perfect tune for a horror movie, with lots of fog, woods and medieval castles inhibited by zombies. Perfect pitch black.
On the opposite side of ambient industrial, say more industrial than ambient, we find Iron Fist Of The Sun, the musical project of Lee Howard, who is from Birmingham, and who, since 2007, has a bunch of releases on Dead Wood Recordings, Unrest, Freak Animal and mostly Cold Spring. ‘We Can Yield Our Own Footsteps’ is his latest album and my first introduction to his power electronics. I must admit my power electronics are a bit rusty these days, and whenever I hear any of that I go back to the classics – a bit of Whitehouse and a lot of Ramleh. The music by Iron Fist Of The Sun isn’t all about force and aggression; sure, there is distortion, there is feedback but it’s more than just that. ‘Pride’, the opening piece here, opens with what seems a piano-like sound, and slowly electronics are fed into the mix, and towards the end distortion and feedback. There is, lo and behold, compositional thought into this; here’s someone who plays around with the notion of noise, but at the same time keeps in mind that a piece should also be engaging to hear, and not just a stream of mindless doodling of noise. There is so much more going on here than just screaming down a microphone in front of speaker and lots of distortion pedals pushed to the floor. In ‘The Disappearing Chair’ there is feedback, voice but also a very slow rhythm from a machine, pounding solemnly away. Suppressed noise and a sequence(r) guide the way in ‘Cold Wet Skin’. ‘Insignificant’, and then we are already at the fifth song here, is the classic ‘all feedback noise’ song, but it’s at less than four minutes it’s also the shortest piece of the lot. This is an excellent release of harsh electronics, power electronics, industrial music or whatever you call it: here’s a work created with consideration and imagination, which made think this kind of music made some progression after all. (FdW)

It’s already been three years since the Schimpfluch Carnival hit the Arnolfini in Bristol. Three days of music, talk and performances by the likes of Schimpfluch label from Switzerland (various artists there such as Rudolv, Sudden Infant, Dave Phillips), but also guests who are associated with Schimpfluch – men with beards and shaved heads I guess, such as Vagina Dentata Organ, The Haters, Con-Dom and The New Blockaders. One night saw The Haters perform with The New Blockaders, and the soundboard recordings from this concert can be found on side A. A relentless onslaught of noise, a barrage of sound: whatever grinding to do, these men know how to do it. It’s hard to see what it is they do, judging by the record. But look here: and you get an impression. It’s no an axe that grinds, but a saw that is being used as a violin bow on a piece of metal and GX with a piece of flint paper on metal, apparently somewhere off-stage overlooking audience and collaborators. Stomp boxes are everywhere and towards the end of the performance everything that could broke is kaputt. It sounds great even without watching the concert on Youtube. More noise is on the other side here, in a more recent recording the Blockaders did with GX and Ace Farren Ford of the Los Angeles Free Music Society and Smegma fame. He picks up a saxophone or two, and adds a free jazz element to the music, which goes quite well with the noise produced by the others, which actually might also be called free jazz, come to think of it. Everybody produces his own version of ‘chaos’ and ‘noise’ and here 1 + 1 + 1 really makes 4 I’d say. Toss it all together and see what comes up. The crowd noise (present at recording? mixed in later?) is quite cheery and otherwise; maybe it’s all deception here and part of the noise? Who knows? Who cares, really? Play loud and play on repeat, is my advise for such things. You’ll be cheering too. (FdW)

From Frankfurt hails Tobias Schmitt, who since the late 90s works as Suspicion Breeds Confidence. He didn’t release that many works, and also didn’t get a lot of reviews in these pages. I wrote a review of his debut ‘Deja Vu Of A Duck’ in Vital Weekly 187 and the more curiously titled ‘The Fauna And Flora Of The Vatican City’ in Vital Weekly 621. Both of these had a bunch of rhythm sounds, dub like, drum & bass like, ambient and techno. Here on ‘Tand’ (which actually means ‘tooth’ in Dutch) the balance is more towards ambient music, especially in the first half of the release. The various sounds of the rhythm machine are transformed and sound more like Asmus Tietchens here. In ‘Although His Leadership Was Brutal His Death Was Deeply Mourned’ – odd title, when it uses a voice talking about relaxing, it’s more ambient, with the sound pushed towards the back. The short ‘In Der Peripherie Des Polypytchons’ sounds more like Pan Sonic or Goem, with a deep bass blast and high-pitched rhythm. That was the most rhythmic piece. I must admit I wasn’t blown away by this music. I am not sure what this music is all about, but for me it seems to be lacking certain tension. It doesn’t grab the listener and screams: ‘listen to this!’ nor does it put the listener in a dream state, like good atmospheric should do. It limps around on various thoughts without seeming to make up its mind. That’s a pity. I think it would be good if Suspicion Breeds Confidence makes up it’s mind and fully went for creating an album in one direction that would fully grab the listener, or puts him in a state of relaxation. (FdW)

RYAN HUBER – ASTOR (CDR by Inam Records)
You may recall the name Ryan Huber from his Olekranon project, or Sujo, or perhaps Bobcrane, but these days he dispensed with all the names and just goes under his own name. It seems that his various previous interests are gathered here and have matured a bit more. The guitar fuzz of Olekranon is present, but also the slow core of Sujo, combined with drones, rhythm and noise, all are now effectively shaped together in an eleven-track album that moves around in these places. It is an album of quite some variations, but it all seems to make sense. The pieces are placed in such a way that the more accessible ones, such as the highly rhythmic ‘Merchant Deceit’ is before a slab of obscure noise that goes by the name of ‘Sabad’, the squeaky ambience of ‘Battle Of The Cedars’, followed by the heavy click noise of ‘Covent Garden’. Just to mention four pieces that are placed after each other here, to give you an impression of this is built. I hadn’t heard his music in quite some time, but this re-connection is quite nice. Everything is always on the darker side of the moon here and sometimes influences are a bit obvious, such as Pan Sonic being the guide for ‘Star Chamber’ or ‘Selkirk’, with similar minimalist beat loops. An excellent disc of some highly varied tunes. (FdW)

SÖLL – CÄVV (CDR by Esc Rec)
Esc Rec from Deventer, The Netherlands, releases mostly in the digital domain, and have build up a fine catalogue (worth checking out if you are not afraid of music that you can only download and doesn’t have a physical form), but sometimes it also takes the shape of a disc. Here we have Söll, also known as Jorge Pandeirada, from Portugal and who’s interest lies in the concept of ‘randomness and what many regard as musical error’. I must admit it’s not something I hear in his music. He has seven pieces here and it spans some thirty-three minutes and it all seems to have been made with the computer. If anything I would say this is made using a variety of plug-ins or max/msp/pure data patches chewing away on an endless amount of field recording on the input side. Music that reminds me of all those things that were so hip years and years ago; when ‘microsound’ was a term to identify all that music made with laptops and field recordings on the input side. Perhaps there is an element of randomness in here, but it seems to be lost inside those strung-out lengthy fields of sound – ie. drones that in their melted from make up some fine ambient music. Quite dreamy stuff, very warm and yet, surprisingly, all made with the computer. ‘Warm glitch music’ is what I used to write about releases like this. Having said, I think this is not all bad; it’s not original but it’s not bad. There is some very sturdy processing going on in here and Söll pushes all the right buttons to create these. I’d say it’s a bit early for a revival for this kind of music, but who knows someday this will be mentioned as one of early revivalists. (FdW)

It’s been quiet, or so it seems, for Miguel A. Garcia, who otherwise keeps us busy with releases. Here he takes his laptop talent to the stage in Apodaka, in the Basque country, in 2013 where he played a concert with Oscar Martin, another electronic musician from the active local scene. The recordings were ‘recomposed’ a year later, into a twenty-six minute piece of music. Throughout these minutes there is a gradual shift from quiet to loud. Drone like at the beginning with deep bass sounds, and interrupting sine waves, and then it’s gets fuller and fuller with more noise-based sound material. Hard to say what it is; it might be field recordings being fed through all sorts of plug-ins, but it’s also likely that end noise uses an amount of guitar effects. Mildly and pleasantly distorted electro acoustic music. The second piece is six minutes shorter and by Oier Iruretagoiena, also from the Basque country and who once went by the name Tüsüri. His work is not unlike that of Garcia and Martin, being all about field recordings, acoustic objects and whatever electronic manipulation but is throughout also noisier. Essentially he uses a similar approach to his piece, working his way up from silence to noise, but also seems a bit more single minded and perhaps less engaging to hear. It’s not bad also not the best of pieces.
Noe Cuellar and Joseph Kramer are Coppice, and they have already surprised me a couple of times with some great releases (see Vital Weekly 882, 892 and 921). Much of what I understand is their way to produce music is that they have a bunch of electronics and some acoustic and analogue ways of processing sound; it always seems to have that manual element to it. An organ, a shruti box or something similar but tehn not looped through digital means but played by hand, leaving mistakes in there, almost as if they are guides to another place. I noted this before, but one is reminded of improvised music in any of these three pieces, but it seems that’s only at the core of the piece; the gathering of blocks of sound to built a piece from. Maybe that building is also done in some improvised way, but perhaps it is carefully mapped out. It is a work of quite some radical sound waves – high pierced feedback for instance dominates ‘Snow’, making this not something one would easily play at a low volume. In ‘Brim’ there is multitude of drone sounds from the shruti box being placed on top of each other and has a slightly distorted feeling to it, but it works rather well. This is another damn fine release by this duo, and seeing all of three pieces were recorded in concert, I’d be very curious to see them at work one day. (FdW)

Barcelona’s Hazard label is mainly interested in releasing music that somehow, somewhere has a link to computers. Not only in the music, but also as a listening device: all of their releases can be downloaded for free from their website and usually come with covers to print. For those are really lazy (?) there is always the option to buy them on a CDR. As said much of the music is created with the use of computers, and the first one is a work by Danish Jakob Draminsky Højmark, whose work deals with ‘stage music, electroacoustics, musique concrete, intermedia, improvisation and microtuning. He wrote seven chamber operas, has played with Pascal Comelade and plays solo concerts with bass clarinet, sopranino saxophone and MAX/msp. Here we have a seventy-five minute work which contains a recording of his on the bass clarinet tape in 1998 in New York; in 2014 he fed this recording through max-msp, on two different dates and recorded the result straight to disc. That’s exactly the sort of music guerrilla tactics this label likes. The bass-clarinet is very well recognized in this piece and it’s hard to say if it’s a smaller section being looped and gradually changed over and over again, or if this is a seventy-five minute recording. There is not much evidence for that, but indeed it seems that the sound over the entire length gets more and more abstract, and Højmark opens whatever possibilities he has in his computer to change the music. Curiously enough it doesn’t sound like a piece of ambient, which the title indicates (look for Erik Satie on Google, if you have no idea what I’m referring too), but rather like a piece of improvised music using a wind instrument and tape – like an old fashioned piece for instrument and tape. It is maybe all a bit long if you listen closely, but no doubt this is best at a low volume and ignored. Just as Erik Satie would have wanted.
On the other end we find the thirty pieces of Modern Music Mechanics, which is the musical project of Xavi Marx, who also works as xmarx and Associacio d’Artistes Suburbans, both of these guises are also present on Hazard Records. Here we find another interest of Hazard Records, for whom their releases are in the public domain: plunderphonics. That’s what Modern Music Mechanics does here: chopping pop music through the use of the computer, or maybe in an earlier stage using skipping vinyl and sound effects. Lots of short pieces are to be found on this release, clocking in at close to one hour. It’s hard to recognize any pop music in here, but perhaps it’s not the kind of pop music I know. Most of these pieces are sketch like: a few loops of rhythm ‘n noise mixed together, and it may take you a few listening rounds to find the ones you like and select these for further inspection, such as perhaps the catchy bass line of ‘Sonar’ (maybe in honour or disgust of the festival in their home town?) and ‘Slap!’, also a more pop like outing. But sometimes it’s all a bit too noisy and fragmentary to be a song or even a sketch. Select your favourites and re-burn to a 3″CDR of fine plunderpop.
Rosa Arruti is behind Nad Spiro, and she has a long career in electronic music. Since the late 1970s she has been a member of Psicopatas del Norte, tendre Tembles, MohoChemiue and solo as Nido GAZ and since 2000 as Nad Spiro. It’s her first release as on Hazard records, as the label had some problem convincing her of releasing something in the public domain. I am not sure if Nadia Spier is another one of her alter ego’s. She has six pieces on this release, in which she explores her usual mixture of electronics, field recordings, laptop techniques and such like. It seems that these pieces are the result of various rounds of improvisation with these instruments and sounds she is using. It wasn’t easy to keep my attention to this lot. Sometimes it seemed to have an element of randomness here, with a variety of sounds stuck together but without exactly knowing why and how they are ended up in this constellation. Some of these pieces in turn then last a bit long, and attention started to drift here. It might of course that I am tired by now, the very end of the day, but surely there is something missing from the music as well. It’s not per se bad music, but it could have used a bit more attention. (FdW)

ARCANE DEVICE – N.14 01.07.15 (3″CDR by Pulsewidth)
Here we have a small dilemma. ‘This disc is unique. It contains twenty minutes of live Feedback Music and it’s the only copy made’ […] Better yet, refrain from breaking the seal and it will be unheard by another human being besides myself [Arcane Device that is – FdW]… rather the ultimate collector’s item’. Now, I am a big fan of Arcane Device, so I better break that seal. But reviewing? Is that really necessary? For whatever I am about to hear, it’s not shared around. ‘Can I have what he’s having?’, ‘no mate, that’s unique to him’. I can write this is great or it sucks and who would know the difference? More interesting of course is to ponder over this sort of releases. The 1-copy is hardly unique, although I don’t think this Arcane Device will fetch the same price as Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Music For Supermarkets’, which went out in a similar small edition, this might be the future of releasing music. Obvious there is always people who like a physical format, LP, cassette, CD, and by limiting to just one copy, one has something unique. I can imagine artists stating that you can order a 20-minute ambient work at 300 euros, or 40 minutes for 500 euros (note the discount!). Signed like a painting, with a certificate, claiming its uniqueness. You could even allow the buyer to sell it as an mp3 or not; it’s optional. Arcane Device does not allow those options, but these babies cost you just 10 dollar and they are signed too. (I am playing this as I am thinking what to write: it’s surely a fine work in which we see Arcane Device in a slightly freer mode than usually – more improvised it seems. Quite a fine work). Do you know of die-hard Arcane Device fans and you are looking for the perfect gift? Ask David Myers to compose a piece for your birthday! But act fast; you never know how long Arcane Device will be doing this. Onto a new form of music distribution: the non-distribution. (FdW)

Two new releases on our most beloved Barreuh Records from Eindhoven. They built up an interesting catalogue at quite a furious speed. The first release we could see as the follow-up to ‘Invisible Architecture’, a LP by Chrs Galarreta (from Peru) and Janneke van der Putten (from The Netherlands). This new work was recorded at The Castle, Centre International d’art Et Du Paysage Ile de Vassiviere and follows a similar approach as the LP: Van der Putten is somewhere in this tower, wordless chanting and all over the place there are microphones to pick up this singing. This leads, without electronic effects, overdubs and remixes to something that is endlessly sustaining and these two sides have that same ethereal feeling that the LP had. The second side had some sort of highly obscured background sound (hiss? the sea? waves?) but it added to the mystique of the release. The same mystique we see on the silver on black cover: hard to read but if you hold this in the right angle everything is revealed. That is a bit like the music: it may just a voice in a large space, but once picked up and all the variations are melted together and offer this long sustaining sounds. Try this in combination with the LP and create your own architecture.
Something entirely different is the release by Renee van Triest. I couldn’t proper translate the title. Renee van Triest is mostly a visual artist but is also armed with a keyboard, microphone, a rhythm machine and sings about the arse of a pussycat, clocking at the factory, buying everything, tired of living, and having no money in the bank. All of this is all rather lo-fi when it comes to such basic things as composition, execution, singing and recording, but that adds to the outsider element of the release. Sometimes the rhythm is louder than the singing, so it’s hard to understand; or when the voice is fed through sound effects. This was funny, hilarious and sometimes downright painful to hear. It’s one of those things where one scratches their head and go: ‘what the hell is that all about?’ Mostly art, I guess. I haven’t figured what is in the plastic bag attached to the box. I know I should. One day. (FdW)

RICHARD GARET – 60′ CASSETTE (cassette by The Helen Scarsdale Agency)
RADIOSON (cassette by The Helen Scarsdale Agency)
Over the years I never reviewed much of Richard Garet, so I must admit I have no immediate recollection of his music. There have been releases on Con-V, Non Visual Objects and Winds Measure. From the information that comes with ’60’ Cassette’ I understand he is from Uruguay and that in the creation of this music, the cassette played an all-important role. “100% treated audio cassette material. Some blank. Some erased. Some Demagnetized etc.” Whatever was on these cassettes? That’s not easy to tell; well, it’s near impossible, I’d say. My best guess would this is some sort of field recording, or a collection of field recordings, along with recordings of electrical disturbance (think of the type normally recorded by Joe Colley or Francisco Meirino). Sometimes the results are alarmingly noisy, but in a highly pleasant way. Mainly because it’s never too loud, too noisy and/or too distorted; Garet works his way around all of this with some techniques borrowed from the world of musique concrete and reel-to-reel machines being eroded, corroded, oxide and buried. From all the references the label makes, I would think the one that comes closest is that of Chop Shop. It shares a similar love for all things rotten, when it comes to magnetic tape, damaged speakers and broken cables. An excellent hour of decay is what it all results in.
You remember the Russian musician who calls himself [s]? And sometimes works as Five Elements Music and Exit in Grey? He now has a new name under his belt, and it’s Radioson. It also says so in Russian on the cover. This new project is inspired by Russia’s parapsychological experiments, and using the radio for biological warfare. That is all part and parcel for [s], who knows how to use all of that dark technology and conspiracy stuff into a soundtrack that resembles much of that. Lots of radio transmissions are intercepted and fed through a whole bunch of sound effects and served as a fine dish of dark ambient music. The cover lists also a bunch of ancient soviet synthesizers, adding to the fun, but also adding a bit of melody here and there. Whereas the release from Garet is all abstract and alien, Radioson adds shimmering melodies from below the basement. Whereas Helen Scarsdale places that on the Schnitzler/Schulze axis, I’d rather believe this has more to do with Maurizio Bianchi in a somewhat more contemplative mood. Think ‘Plain Truth’ era. Long on-going field of vastly layered electronic sound, and one or two of these layers contain a slow melody. It’s darker than much of the cosmic music from the seventies, I’d say (even when Schnitzler knew some of those tricks too), and this is an absolutely great release. An obscured cloud of radio transmissions is taken from the air and put on an ancient piece of magnetic tape. It’s all bit darker and grittier than some of the other of [s], so quite rightly he choose a new moniker. Perhaps not something you didn’t hear before, but quite a lovely tape! (FdW)


About: modisti

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