Interzone Ambient Festival + Cluster concert

It’s been quite some time since my latest post to this weblog. Holiday time, the obligatory holiday trips …I obviously had a hard time…

But the new season has a promising start:
If you live near Utrecht, Holland you should keep an eye on the following events
(and if you don’t live in Holland but are interested still, keep an ear on the FOLIO webstream as linked below):

  • Interzone Ambient Festival – 29 / 30 september, Theater Kikker, Utrecht
    This is a 2 day festival that has a promising line-up. Murcof will be there, probably to promote his new release: Cosmos. Other performers on saturday are Jessica Bailiff, Klimek and  Shuttle 358.
    Sunday will bring us a Ahornfelder showcase, with performances by Sinebag, Semuin, F.S. Blumm, Marcel Turkowsky.
    Radio 6′ Folio will preview this festival on september, 4

cluster

  • Tivoli De Helling programs a performance by Cluster (Dieter Moebius / Hans-Joachim Roedelius) on November, 7
    Don’t know what to expect on this concert, but both Moebius and Roedelius were there to define ‘ambient’ in the time their music was called ‘Krautrock’. They partnered with Brian Eno, worked with legendary producer Conny Plank, and their 30+ years of musical output is quite difficult to survey. Again, the night before this concert, Folio will present a musical preview.

Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

Sleep Research Facility – Deep Frieze

Deep Frieze

Sleep Research Facility should be credited for one of the best names in ambient music. Apart from that, Kevin Doherty was also responsible for the Nostromo release a few years ago. Nostromo was based on the first minutes of sound from the first Alien movie (Nostromo was the name of the spaceship) (*), and the music was as deep as outer space. (By the way: you cannot find this release anymore by now, but Cold Spring Records has announced a re-release later this year).

John Watermann – Calcutta Gas Chamber

In 2006, Cold Spring records has re-released a record from 1993. It only recently came to my attention, so I would not have written about it on this weblog (for it would be ‘old news’) – if it’s thematic content wouldn’t be so shocking.
John Watermann‘s album is called ‘Calcutta Gas Chamber’ – and that about says all.  Story goes that the recording artist has visited India in the early 90’s and came across nightmare-ish giant gas chambers that the Indian government used for ‘population control’.

Hilary Jeffery

Tromboscillator

Currently, I am preparing the Folio radiobroadcast for june, 26, which will feature some work played by Hilary Jeffery.
Jeffery is an English trombone player, currently living in Amsterdam. He plays quite a lot of different line-ups: with Jimi Tenor as well as with the Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensemble, to name just two.
His musical output is equally diverse, ranging from experimental improvisational jazz to quiet drones.
One of his influences is trombone player James Fulkerson (who surprisingly also lives in the Netherlands!), with whom he also studied.

Elegi – Sistereis

Sistereis

‘Sistereis’ is the opposite of a ship’s maiden voyage. It’s a ship’s doomed final voyage.

“All was as it had been upon my previous visit, save that the picture which I have described as having hung at the end of his bed had been cut out of it’s frame, as with a knife, and was gone. With this last link in a strange chain of evidence I close my diary of the voyage”

Machinefabriek – Weleer

Weleer

“Weleer” (Formerly, in old times) is the well chosen title for the 2CD selection of work from more than 30 3″-cd’s that Rutger “machinefabriek” Zuydervelt released last years. Most of these will be very hard to find, so this album is a good starting point for those that want to know what sort of stuff the machinefabriek produces.

This prolific musician (from Arnhem, Holland) draws some international attention (how do foreigners pronounce titles like “gruis uit het plafond”?) with his noise and drone experiments, as well as with his lovely naïve electro-acoustics (not unlike Colleen or Goldmund).

Weleer is a varied collection, but not for the faint of heart: not everyone will like all of the tracks. It’s impressing that one man can deliver so much great work in such short time. Machinefabriek deserves all respect and praise for his work, and not only from Holland!

Alva Noto – XERROX

William Basinski has built almost his entire oeuvre on deteriorating copies of original tape recordings. (The Disintegration Loops may be the best example).
So, when reading about the new Alva Noto release, Xerrox, I had to suppress a ‘not again’ yawn..

“Via the technique of duplication the copy often contains mistakes and glitches that differ from the original. The mutating copy emerges as a new original and thereby provides space for development”

The Innocence Mission – We Walked in Song

It’s hard to tell what it is exactly that touches me everytime I hear the songs of The Innocence Mission. Is it the pureness (innocence?) of singer-songwriter Karen’s voice, reminding me of early 10.000 Maniacs? (This connection is no coincidence: Karen and Don Peris contributed to Natalie Merchant’s Ophelia).
Is it the open, seemingly simple, acoustic arrangements played by Don Peris on guitar and Mike Bitts on bass?
Is it the combination? Does it matter, anyway? 
What really matters is that The Innocence Mission released at least TEN records, and that none of these gained any serious attention in Europe. Please, notice them! You can start with ‘We Walked in Song’ and work backwards from there…

Nest – Nest

Ambient music collectors no longer visit the local record shop to find the latest releases. Most of the times, the titles are not even stocked. Still, the genre is lively and growing bigger than it ever was. Not through the ‘old’ distribution channels and brick and mortar shops, but through the internet mostly. This weblog only covers a small tip of the iceberg of the music available.

Arve Henriksen – Strjon

On this third solo project Arve Henriksen is accompanied by two fellow Supersilent members: Helge Sten (a.k.a. DeathProd) and Ståle Storløkken. Unlike most of the Supersilent albums Strjon breathes a natural, Zen-like balance and peacefulness.
Henriksen’s trumpet-playing is perfectly balanced with the almost chilling sound sculptures accompanying it.

Pole – Steingarten

Looking at the cover should be your first warning. Steingarten shows the kind of castle even Disney would have considered ‘over the top’. In a landscape you could never even imagine.
The warning seems to serve a purpose, because at first casual listen this album feels far more lightweight than earlier Pole albums. We did not expect this kind of poppy electronics from Stefan Betke!
Well: time to adjust the expectations and retry.

Pocka – Uhrwerk

Pocka - Uhrwerk

Good news for those of you that are fascinated by the current Buddha Machine hype (like me) : there’s a free download available of the album Uhrwerk by Pocka here.
It may not be as layered as Robert Henke’s ‘Layering Buddha’, but the sound of these Buddha Machine interpretations is very comfortable and authentic.
The recognisable Buddha Machine loops are enhanced by subtle bass guitar, piano, guitar pedals and software effects.

Michael Fahres – The Tubes featuring Jon Hassell

Michael Fahres - The Tubes

Cold Blue Music, a Californian record label that everyone enjoying contemporary ambient/electronic/minimalism should follow closely, is about to release a cd called “The Tubes” by Michael Fahres.

On the title track of this fascinating album, Fahres recorded the acoustic effect of the rock tube formations on El Hierro: a breathing sound created by waves forcing air through the volcanic rocks. Mixed with Jon Hassell’s breathy trumpet playing and Mark Atkins’ haunting didgeridoo, this piece is an ode to the breath of life itself…