Other Music Update
January 4, 2000

In This Week's Update:

Jorg Burger, the Modernist
Pop-Off Tuesday
two from Pascal Comelade (w/Bel Canto Orquestra; w/Richard Pinhas)
Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet
Thomas Lehn & Gerry Hemingway improv duets
Longineu Parsons reissue
Drift: Sound Art and Acoustic Ecology compilation
Bola Sete reissue
Durian records overview, part I

Featured New Releases:

THE MODERNIST "Explosion" (Popular Organization, Germany) CD/LP $23.99/$21.99
Jorg Burger, aka The Modernist, has unhinged himself from the Harvest label
and started a label (The Popular Organization) to release his clean, punchy
tech-house tracks. Packaged in a terrific Russian Constructivist
letterpress sleeve, "Explosion" is Burger's most accomplished, mature work
to date. Like fellow Cologne residents Wolfgang Voigt, Reinhard Voigt and
Thomas Brinkmann, Burger manifests a considerable interest in sonic
architecture. But he's no art-school dropout intent on making austere,
mathematical music; rather, he favors rounded yet hard 909 kick drums
rotating like a sawtooth blade at around 120-125 bpm, while keeping hooky
synth melodies riding the surface of the bassline with the ease of a
hovercraft over a calm lake. 'Mrs. New Deal' and 'Architainment' are the
standouts, rising and falling like the stock market all the while
maintaining a serpentine groove. [TH]
LP  /perl-bin/OM/CD_Add_To_Cart.cgi?sku=09999120461&refer_url=email

POP-OFF TUESDAY "See My Ghost" (Pickled Egg, UK) CD $12.99
Pop-Off Tuesday don't just record songs, they create them in a complex
assembly process: one which combines a backbone of sampled sounds,
programmed drum beats, bubbling electronics, lyrical guitar lines and
sparse female vocals, all sliding effortlessly from playful electronic pop
to full-blown tape cut-ups. There's an odd, karaoke-like quality to their
music -- they're reconfiguring samples, and then they play and sing along
with the reconfigurations, making the record, in part, an exploration of
the imperfect echo. This duo's graceful shifting from experiments with
plundered audio to a weird hybrid of electronica and pop is inventive, and
throughout this mini-LP they dodge being pigeonholed as yet another
Japanese kitsch novelty act. "See My Ghost" is less pop than their last CD,
a little weirder, but still combines elements of several different styles
in their creation of singular, refreshing, new music. [PW]

PASCAL COMELADE & BEL CANTO ORQUESTRA "Live in Lisbon" (Les Disques du Soleil et de L'Acier, France) CD $16.99
PASCAL COMELADE & RICHARD PINHAS "Oblique Sessions II" (Les Disques du Soleil et de L'Acier, France) CD $16.99

Pascal Comelade's seven-piece Bel Canto Orquestra juxtapose the cheapest
instruments possible (plastic guitars and accordions, toy pianos,
melodicas, triangle, ukelele) with those with a glorious history (grand
piano, violin, Spanish guitar). In specific, intricate and breathtaking
arrangements, the Orquestra do a few cheeseless covers ('96 Tears,' 'Smoke
on the Water,' 'All Tomorrow's Parties') and some wistful, vaguely European
ethnic/Weill-esque originals. The somber, expressive performances and
sensitive segues transform the sounds of these instruments of little
distinction into moving and still playful miniature symphonies. The
ensemble complements each other wholly; the music reaches a particular
starkness and lushness -- imagine if the songs on Tom Waits and Nick Cave
albums of recent vintage were simply instrumentals. Part of the particular
creativity to the Orquestra's arrangements comes via the designated Oblique
Strategist on board, Gerard Nguyen, (who uses those techniques/exercises
developed by Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt to induce a sense of
perspective/the unexpected). Nguyen, in the role of producer, also
collaborates with Comelade on the second volume of the "Oblique Sessions"
series (the excellent first volume being a collaboration between Comelade,
fellow toy-instrument aficionado Pierre Bastien, Jac Berrocal and Jaki
Liebezeit). "Oblique Sessions II" adds Comelade's adeptness with the toy
instruments and keyboards to Richard Pinhas' moodily-colored guitar
shadings and overtones, producing beautiful and startling combinations of
fuzz and clarity. Comelade's sense of intricacy, and unpredictable elegance
is unparalleled, his underknown status, will, hopefully, soon be remedied. [RE]
"Live in Lisbon"
"Oblique Sessions II"

KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN "53/Helikopter-Streichquartett"(Stockhausen Verlag, Germany) 2xCD $79.99
Ridiculously ambitious composition from 1992/1993 melding musician and
machine, starring the Arditti String Quartet and four helicopters,
conceived and executed as only Stockhausen could: "...I had a dream: I
heard and saw the four string players in four helicopters flying in the air
and playing. At the same time I saw people on the ground seated in an
audio-visual hall, others were standing outdoors on a large public plaza.
In front of them, four towers of television screens and loudspeakers had
been set up...at each of the four positions one of the string players could
be heard and seen in close-up. Most of the time, the string players played
tremoli which blended so well with the timbres and the rhythms of the rotor
blades that the helicopters sounded like musical instruments. When I woke
up, I strongly felt that something had been communicated to me which I
never would have thought of on my own."--Karlheinz Stockhausen, from his
liner notes. The massive 98-page booklet from this gorgeous package tells
the rest of this remarkable tale, from composition through the world
premiere performance on June 26, 1995 and all the logistical, financial,
and bureaucratic hurdles in between, with over 35 lavish color photos
documenting the project. The music? Splashy and repetitious string figures
contend with and mesh with the whirling rotors while a voice intermittently
counts-down auf Deutsch. CD1 features the live premiere performance in its
entirety, while CD2 adds a studio interpretation recorded the following
year. A bold new statement? The final gasp of 20th Century compositional
excess? Or, "Flight Of The Bumblebee" redux? You decide. One thing is for
certain: this show ain't coming to our hometown(s) anytime soon! [JG]

FOEHN "Silent Light" (Swarf Finger, UK) CD $14.99
In a series of pretty, short tape edits, Foehn (Deb Parsons, formerly
one-half of Third Eye Foundation) artfully truncates the sounds she uses,
rendering them nearly contextless, yet retaining echoes of metronomes,
wings, whispers, squeaky swingsets. The sounds rot and resound throughout;
decay and boom are essential her universe. Simple three-note guitar
melodies spring up, and airless toy vibraphones and conversations stream
through telephone wires unintelligibly. There's a crispiness, a tendency to
scar and mar the sounds she so obviously loves. The beats here come in
waves, cyclical, and, occasionally, a voice floats to the surface, a
princess accompanied by a tiny frog jazz orchestra. While resting on almost
a gothic ambient expanse, Foehn paints a picture of the world with a
paradox, using digital technology to create a world that seemingly exists
without or outside of it. If Stock, Hausen & Walkman were led around the
studio blindfolded, they might have to make a careful, thoughtful record
like this one. [RE]

THOMAS LEHN & GERRY HEMINGWAY "Tom & Gerry" (Erstwhile) 2xCD $17.99
With 'free improvisation' well beyond its third decade, the practitioners
of such have to take particular care to keep the music fresh and alive.
German synth player Thomas Lehn and American percussionist Gerry Hemingway,
on this amazing 2-CD set of improvised duets, do just that. The incredible,
rarely-documented Lehn provides intensely physical spatterings of near
Mego-style electronic noise tweakery. With a relentless stream of ideas,
intuitive sense of interaction and uncanny control of sound, Lehn is
unquestionably one of the very best of a new and frighteningly innovative
generation of electroacoustic improvisors. Hemingway, best known as the
drummer for Anthony Braxton's standard quartet, compliments Lehn with his
varied arsenal, which ranges from drum-set bombast to a more Eddie
Prevost-esque 'landscape' percussion. Together, these two have created one
of the most successful and invigorating recordings to hit my ears in a
while. [TP]

LONGINEU PARSONS "Spaced: Collected Works 1980-1999" (Ubiquity) CD $13.99
Back in 1980, Parsons recorded a self-titled album, which, had it been
noticed by more than a handful of folks, might have changed the sampling
base for a big chunk of '80s acid-jazz. Leading with trumpet, saxes and
recorders (!), Parsons mixes Herbie Hancock-style flipping fusion
cacophonies, but he also unwinds across smooth flute-heavy fusion,
cacophonous and spastic free jazz, and churning Latin percussion funk with
mighty echoing horns. Parsons' heady, humid and full arrangements here come
from that 1980 album, plus some from a later self-produced CD and cassette.
Two remixes in a faithful style, a Lee Morgan cover, and guest appearances
by Sam Rivers round out/decorate this CD. Cool and very funky. [RE]

[V/A] "Drift: Sound Art and Acoustic Ecology" (DOR, UK) CD $16.99
It's hard to find a really good collection of soundscape 'music'. Listening
to someone's recordings of the space they're in is usually far less
interesting than being in those spaces yourself: the reproduction is
somehow false, a cardboard cutout of something 3-D and real. This
compilation, however, dispels that. Presenting a set of lively, imaginary
quick journeys: a fast-moving 'view' of (possibly) the entire London
Underground in 5 minutes; a milky, murky alternate street universe
processed beyond belief; and layered lappings of waves and birds on a lake.
Jonty Harrison's clever 'Sorties' is a series of passages through (and,
ostensibly, out of) rooms, where the recording emerges, over and over,
still in interior soundspaces, albeit ones resonating with trucks and other
unexpected motifs. Morphogenesis provide a set of kitchen/electronics, and
Gregg Wagstaff's wonderful warm recording of a sheep shearing, irregular,
sinister clicking of the shears underlining choruses of bleats of all kinds
and the blithe, banal comments of the workers. This collection challenges
electronics and ambient music for their unspoken escapism, the threads that
connect this project to the real world of sound are fine and strong; even
better, it's an engaging listen that never bores. [RE]

BOLA SETE (Djalma de Andrade) "Ocean Memories" (Samba Moon) 2xCD $22.99
Bola Sete (aka Djalma de Andrade), whose name means 7-ball (the Brazilian
equivalent to our 8-ball in pool), was, and still is, a strong, parallel
influence on John Fahey -- in fact, "Ocean Memories" was released on Fahey's
Takoma Records in 1975. Sete's lyricism sits between the precision of Gary
Lucas (without the intensity) and the sensualism of Fahey's work (without
the traditional American folk melodies). His trickling strings form into
sharp-edged, clear melodies of repeating motifs, the light engravings of
notes don't grasp or reach, they settle, sprinkled, onto the tape -- laid out
plain, the tension slowly unclenches over time. Though Sete is Brazilian,
his guitar work exists in an abstract world outside countryman A.C. Jobim's
samba softness, Baden Powell's jazz vigor. 81 minutes total, and with eight
previously unreleased tracks from the same 1972 sessions that "Ocean
Memories" came from. [RE]

Durion Records Overview:

Durian Records is a marvelous label from Vienna, Austria specializing in
modern notated composition and improvisational releases straddling the fine
line between free jazz and avant-garde classical, all bearing unmistakable,
unified artwork. Established by Werner Dafeldecker in 1995, their most
recent CD, Bernard Gal's "Bestimmung New York" was much raved about here a
month or so ago. We are pleased to present the remarkable Durian catalogue
in its entirety. Look for part two in next week's update.

OSKAR AICHINGER "Poemia" (Durian, Austria) CD $15.99
Beautiful, lyrical and haunting solo, improvised piano, 65 minutes,
recorded May 1996. "From time to time I get on a train. I set off with no
definite goal. Quite alone. I take any local branch in the surroundings of
Vienna. Only one thing is certain: I take the early train. From any
station. I get off whenever I am in the mood to do so. If the bizarre or
poetical name of a place attracts my attention. I hang around in station
bars. Stroll around for an hour. Breathe the smell, the stench. Listen.
Watch. Without me doing much it all adds up to a complete day. While
recording my solo album I have tried to do the same. I had nothing on me
but a few sheets with: motifs, themes, combinations of chords, formal
structures, specific sound figures, verbal notes as signposts and so on.
Thus prepared I embarked on a journey with my piano in the way I do with
trains."--Oskar Aichinger, from his liner notes.

BEAT FURRER "Klangforum Wien" (Durian, Austria) CD $15.99
Four dense, complex compositions recorded live and in the studio 1993-1996.
71 minutes. The first piece, "Narcissus-Fragment" was written for large
ensemble playing with and responding to two isolated actors, effectively
offering up a dream collaboration between Berio and Kagel. 'Time Out' is a
spiralling sonnet of stringed repetition punctuated by percussive stabs and
jarring crescendos. 'Un Moment De Terre Perdu' is a guided improvisation
not unlike Stockhausen's "Aus Den Sieben Tagen" in which the ensemble
divides into three instrumental groups, each one following a specific
rhythmic grid and playing cyclically in their own tempo. Finally,
'Streichquartett #1 (1984)' works a an electrifying homage to Cage and
Feldman, a 23-minute piece veering between slowly changing sonic contours
and eruptions of tense, aggressive insertions before dissolving into a wash
of flowing sound. [JG]

THE COMFORTS OF MADNESS "Autism" CD (Durian, Austria) CD $15.99
Trio consisting of Helge Hinteregger (saxes/sampler), Uchihashi Kazuhisa
(guitar/electronics), and Roger Turner (drums/garbage). Free jazz, improv
in the ICP/Incus/Emanem tradition but with an intense electronic twist or
two. "I went inside me and closed the door gently behind me. It was time to
abstract myself from the world. But the method I had chosen was not
sufficient. There was something left, a zest for life, a will to carry on.
The sounds featured on this one long track (56:56) begin 'inside one's
head': quiet, almost afraid to be thought of. A few sounds, tweaks, pops
break the silence, slowly, but steadily, building out of a world of Autism
into one of social interaction. The silence slowly fades and lashes out
with a violence, a destruction of instrument by the manipulator and player:
torture instead of composition. One is now ready to take what they have
learned from the world outside and use this information to form personal
thoughts. The sounds become calm again, but with a surety not formerly
inherent; this time the sounds refer to what is 'outside the head' instead
of what is kept inside, hidden from the world, from society, from
reality."--from the liner notes. Highest recommendation.

WERNER DAFELDECKER & ULI FUSSENEGGER "Bogengange" (Durian, Austria) CD $15.99
Achingly meditative, acoustic double bass duets explore un-thought-of
possibilities of both the instrument and the human ear. "By creating an
explosion of 'composed silence' Anton Webern provides another possibility
of dealing with our noisy times. We are submerged into a musical world of
quiet. Just as in nano-physics where space is unfolded toward the inside
and where the 'interior universe' is explored, music at the (lower) level
of audibility develops a fragile sound space. It takes courage and devotion
to enter into this space. And the risks of failure, even of a possible
breakdown, remain faithful companions all as much as the danger of escaping
into a world of music void of an 'inner world'. Dafeldecker and
Fussenegger, both virtuosi of the art of reduction, dare to walk this
tightrope of subtly combined sounds...Dark, conciliatory timbre of the
basses, ruthlessly insisting on the beauty of the almost unspeakable.
Dafeldecker and Fussenegger musically turn their basses spike over
scroll."--Burkhard Stangl, from his liner notes.

MICHAEL MOSER "Violoncello" CD (Durian, Austria) CD $15.99
Cellist who has appeared previously with the Ensemble Ton Art and Powechsel
on the Hat Art and Hat Now labels, here performing works by Peter Ablinger,
Bernhard Lang, Isabel Mundry and Winfried Ritsch. Four pieces that
demonstrate the staggering sound palette of the solo cello when confronted
by the latest possibilities of live electronic and real time processing.
Long drones converge into sharp staccatos. So very fluid and spontaneous
sounding, it's tempting to believe that these selections were improvised.

This week's update was keyboarded by Robin Edgerton [RE], Jeff Gibson [JG],
Tim Haslett [TH], Tom Pratt [TP], and Phil Waldorf [PW].

Thanks for reading.

-all of us at Other Music