Tagged: organ music

Dysfunctional Organs


The Quellgeister #2: Wurmloch (INTERSTELLAR RECORDS INT039) LP by Austrian artist Stefan Fraunberger is part of his Quellgeister series…he does it by performing on “semi-ruined organs in deserted churches”. At one level what we hear is a fascinating wheezy acoustic drone, as he attempts to force sound from these old, broken devices. He’s not attempting to make music or play hymn tunes, rather create a conceptual form of sound art. The tones he creates are quite eerie, and the distressed keys and dilapidated pipes are clearly generating just the sort of effects he’s seeking. Even the performances are “broken”, refusing conventional form and veering from recognisable modular chords to freely-improvised passages and moments of purely abstract noise. So far, very rewarding and highly unusual set of rather disconcerting half-musical sounds emerge from Wurmloch, and we could probably locate Fraunberger in a lineage with other artists who discover ruined pianos in odd places and try and force a noise out of them, such as Russ Bolleter or Annea Lockwood.

Stefan Fraunberger is doing it in Transylvania, in churches that are about 300 years old. One of the things that interests him is the profound changes history and migration has wrought in this area, whose German population have mostly moved on since the collapse of the Berlin wall, and where the small villages are now inhabited by Sinti and Romani gypsies. The churches he visits were built during one of the many Ottoman wars, and are more like fortresses. Fraunberger sees the buildings, and the organs themselves, as the last surviving remnant of a forgotten purpose, a “pre-modern, forgotten future” as the press notes have it. He proposes to reinhabit and colonise this admittedly rather vague zone with his own modern, radical ideas, through the possibilities of sound…the record is a document of his spontaneously created “organic sculptures”. While “organic” is an overused word in our field, it’s entirely appropriate to the all-acoustic nature of this sound art, music which is somehow aspiring to reach the “abstracted spirit of electronic music”. Not just because it involves wood and other natural materials and the passage of air wheezing its way through the pipes in irregular bursts, but something of the rottenness and decay of the organ itself has passed onto the grooves. You can almost see the dust, smell the mould.

Visit Franunberger’s website for further examples of his forward-looking and rather abstruse ideas about art and language, and its place in society…through his extensive travels, he seems to be trying to discover things about the meaning of contemporary culture through signs of change and decay, and finding clues in the most unlikely places. The photo of heavily-rusted satellite dishes is strangely evocative in that context, for reasons I can’t explain. From 3 May 2016.

Steep Incline Ahead


Another excellent organ record by Jean-Luc Guionnet, the French experimenter. This one is called Plugged Inclinations (CIRCUM-DISC-HELIX LX007 / BECOQ 23), it’s a live recording from 2013 made in Lille, and it features no fewer than 7 keyboards – electronic organs and harmoniums of various stripe and hue, including the coveted Hammond B3 with a Leslie cabinet, ever the weapon of choice for any serious progressive rock musician in the early 1970s. A single piece nearly 58 minutes in length, and a highly compelling textured and complex droner…

I recall we were very taken with Guionnet’s Pentes when it came out in 2002 and sent him a few brief questions. He had a very interesting view of what the organ meant to him as an instrument: “for me (in my poor head) organ is an archaic and sophisticated mix between piano (keyboard), mixing table (‘registres’- stops) and saxophone (pipes) which are the three instrumental accesses to sound I prefer…I did practice this instrument but less than on the saxophone or on the piano, and never in an academic way.” Keyboard, mixing desk, pipes…that was elaborate enough, but compare with how this apprehension of the organ has now evolved by the year 2016:

“1) we control a machine 2) the organ is halfway between vehicle and artificial intelligence : it is a public transport : a ship, a barque, a boat, a building within a building 3) passing the machinery to the filter of listening, gesture and architecture.” And that’s just the start of a long list of ideas. He’s still preoccupied with the mixing desk metaphor, only now its become something even more sophisticated; he calls it a “helpful member”, perhaps perceiving it as an extra helping hand or limb. He likens it to a “carburettor, distributor, central nervous system”, clearly sensing the possibility of a way to control, move and articulate something of considerable power. I like to think that on each of my favourite recorded organ solos, such as Sun Ra’s ‘Hiroshima’ or Keith Emerson and ‘Karn Evil 9’, the player is transformed for a moment into the megalomaniac Captain Nemo playing the organ on board the Nautilus. Here, Guionnet goes one better; the organ is the vessel itself, and he’s trying to steer it.

Listen to Plugged Inclinations with the above notions 1 in mind. At one level, you’ll notice it’s like listening to a machine, a steam-driven monster hissing and clanking along on its forward path with the inexorable march of a steam-roller or other industrial machine, flattening all. Somewhere he’s managing to lay bare the mechanics of the situation, exposing circuit boards, revealing pistons pumping and cogs turning. Jean-Luc Guionnet is not remotely interested in a smooth or seamless listening experience, and the rough edges are working well in his favour here. The other thing I like about it is the genuine sense of exploration; he’s not sure how these slightly-malfunctioning devices will perform, but he’s interested enough to keep pushing and keep discovering.

At a time when much of the excitement and unpredictability of experimental music seems to be dissipating in favour of quantifiable results, it’s a pleasure to get your mitts on a compelling piece of music like this. “The blast is endless,” reports Jean-Luc, attempting to account for the powerful force that fills his sails, “and the electric current is endless too. Neither the blast nor the current need me.” From 11 April 2016.

  1. “The vast unfathomable sea / Is but a notion unto me”. – Lewis Carroll

Dragon’s Kitchen


KK Null + The Noiser (MONOTYPE RECORDS MONO054) is a meeting between one of Japanese noise-rock’s heavyweights and the French electro-acoustic anarcho-poet loon Julien Ottavi, with results every bit as fractured and unpredictable as poisoned sushi wrapped in a crepe suzette. The album’s first half is seven short-ish experiments in grotesque electronic rhythms and crazy samples intercut with each other in ways that make no sense; after you’re reeling from that onslaught, they finish you off with a 25-minute monster that’s just chock full of playful edits so as to resemble an episodic, cartoon-like composition in the form of an acid trip. Free jazz piano, birdsong, unhinged electric noise and odd percussive gamelan doodling are just some of the elements you can expect from this garbled spew. While it includes some live recordings made in Vienna, this is mostly a fun-filled and semi-dangerous studio concoction – which is evident from all the half-mad control-freakery that’s going on here. From October 2013.


On the face of it, CMKK’s Gau (MONO065) is a pretty sickening proposition – four artists producing a single 47-minute meander through some surreal sludgy ambient drones while one of them recites their strange poetry using plenty of pastoral images like black water, swans, fields, and mist. There’s Celer with laptop and samples, Machinefabriek with laptop and tapes, the guitars of Romke Kleefstra and the poetry of Jan Kleefstra. However, listen to the end of this slow dampened odyssey across joyless and sunless flatlands and you’ll feel the rewards as your brain is softened into malleable mush, fit to be sold as Sten Hanson’s Canned Porridge. Not unlike hearing Polwechsel after they’ve swallowed a dose of Mogadon, with added zombified electronics and a stoic TV announcer trying to remain calm while he watches the whole world being flooded. From October 2013.


Here’s some French heroes of indefinable music and sound art: Eric Cordier and Jean Luc Guionnet, discreetly rubbing their organs together in a deserted temple in Metz. By “organs” I mean the hurdy-gurdy of Eric, which has been amplified and processed while he squeezes it, and the amplified organ of Jean-Luc – an instrument which he’s previously played to great effect in various church and cathedral settings. De Proche En Proche (MONO061) comprises live recordings from 2004, mostly rather uneventful and slow droning. Things liven up from the third piece onwards as vaguely menacing machine-like qualities are exhibited – it sounds like a milking machine going wrong and the cows are moaning in complaint. Or perhaps reaching a cow-like orgasm of some sort as they feel the errant mechanical clamps around their udders. From October 2013.


Unearthly slab of live electro-acoustic music here from Charles-Eric Charrier, who is manipulating two musicians – their instruments, at any rate – on C6 GIG (february 2012) (MONO059). Martin Bauer is playing the viole de gambe and Nicolas Richard plays percussion and accordion. From this we derive 45 minutes of continual, mysterious sounds, at times approaching the shape of a nightmarish cloud of purple filth descending on the belly of the fitful listener. I’d have liked a tad more commitment to sustaining this crapulous mood, but I can understand why Charrier feels the need to layer this inexplicable composition with long silences, pauses, and other existential longeurs. Still, when the strings pluck bass throbs from the lower registers and the percussion rattles its cage like a snoring gorilla, you’ll find me there with my concrete pillow. From October 2013.


Bartek Kalinka concocts some fairly bonkers music on Champion of the World Has No Monopoly on the Legions (BOLT RECORDS BRK003), through overdubbing meandering acoustic guitar strums, wonky synth tones, and arbitrary percussuon bashes. These ten tracks feel all of a piece and sonically they occupy the same zone of solitary, intimate conversations – except I feel like the conversation is taking place with a balmy loon who doesn’t even speak my language. By time of eighth track, called ‘King Is Approaching’, my mind is reduced to small lumps of gravel and any sense of proportion has been sapped by the tropical, heat-cooking weirdness that boils the brain slowly. By the end, I give in and am prepared to admit that the King is indeed approaching, and that creator Bartek Kalinka is in fact Napoleon.

Olivier Messiaen at Christmas

The Sound Projector Radio Show
Friday 21st December 2012

  1. ‘La Nativité du Seigneur’
  2. ‘Oraison’
  3. ‘Improvisations’

1 played by Louis Thiry
2 is a 1937 composition for the Ondes Martenot
3 played by Olivier Messiaen at the organ of Paris Church of the Sainte-Trinité

Vox Humana

Imaginative and inspired use of the human voice to make modernist compositions by Leo Kupper on his Digital Voices (POGUS PRODUCTIONS P21060-2). Kupper is from the Belgian school of electro-acoustic composition and founded an important studio there, besides having worked with Henri Pousseur. The voices of Barbara Zanichelli, Anna Maria Kieffer and Nicholas Isherwood are all to the fore in these works, even when electronic music is involved; and while some studio technique is involved to enhance the voices (overdubbing, maybe a little reverb), much of the creative artistry is in their powerful singing, speech, and other vocal gymnastics they perform. Zanichelli turns in a sort of super-mutated birdsong catalogue on ‘Aviformes’, in ways which would make Olivier Messiaen glow with quiet pride. Kieffer sings and murmurs with overdubs of herself on the four parts of ‘Kamana’, along with a rich electro-acoustic backdrop woven by Kupper from a carefully-selected range of sources. ‘Kamana’ seems to be neither speech nor singing – Kieffer’s “vocal expressions” are remarkably fluid and agile. The suites ‘Paroles Sur Lèvres’ and ‘Paroles Sur Langue’ are presented as a connected “diptych”, and in these the electronic music is foregrounded; the human voice elements provide a sort of subliminal church choir effect in among the dramatic electronic and percussion music, creating a near-surreal impression. The intoning basso-profundo cantor on Track 18 is particularly stirring, reminiscent of a Russian Orthodox high priest. No less spiritually moving is ‘Lumière Sans Ombre’, which uses recordings of Slavic liturgical chant and the bass vocals of Isherwood with its burnt sienna-styled electronic music. The vocal-heavy CD is divided in two by the track in the middle, where the composer plays the santur and arrives at a species of warped Persian soundtrack music. The release arrives with a chunky full-colour booklet of notes, images and photos, and Kupper is given ample room to describe his compositional technique and methodology, and while this may give the impression that Digital Voices is a rather process-based work, Kupper’s intentions are in fact to keep the music as “abstract” as possible, and thereby arrive at an international language of spirituality. He is very articulate and passionate about the expressive and emotive possibilities of the human voice, and for those who seek more of it, a related record Ways Of The Voice can be found on this same label.

Dag Rosenqvist is one of the Swedish melancholic types who has provided some memorable moments of wistful sorrow in ambient music form as Jasper TX. Here he is teamed up with Aaron Martin from Topeka, and the duo call themselves From The Mouth Of The Sun on their debut album Woven Tide (EXPERIMEDIA EXPCD021). It’s a mixture of mournful chords and swelling string sections, aligned with somewhat more “atmospheric” sounds to produce pleasing blends. Most of it resembles rather sentimental soundtrack music from a Norwegian arthouse movie I just made up, about a young woman who falls in love with frogs in the snow, but I liked ‘Color Loss’ where the balance between the melodic and the abstract feels just about right.

Errors Of The Human Body (EDITIONS MEGO eMEGO 140) really is a soundtrack album, for a German feature film made by Eron Sheean, but this CD and double LP was composed by the Australian Anthony Pateras. He’s got a small chamber ensemble with him (strings, woodwinds and brass) and a percussion group, although a good deal of the music is based around the piano, organ and electronics work of Pateras. I’ve heard one or two of the insane and energetic electronic records he’s made for this label when teamed up with Robin Fox, but this is nothing like those disjunctive roman candles. Sober and restrained, EOTHB is a studied exploration of different tones and textures, with minimalist arrangements that emphasise mood and atmosphere. It’s like generic soundtrack music for an intellectual thriller, only given a vaguely “experimental” slant. Technically flawless on the surface, and the playing and production have an attractive polished sheen. I found some of the pieces a bit shapeless and unfinished, but perhaps the aim is to leave the listener hanging in a state of perplexed expectancy. Each track almost ends with a virtual question mark.

We received a bundle of items on 16 February 2012, including some vinyl, from the publishing wing of the American independent organisation 23five, but for today here’s an excellent CD by Helmut Schäfer called Thought Provoking III (23FIVE 017). This is the first I heard from Schäfer, and it seems this Austrian chap has a reputation for uncompromising and near-brutal electronic music performances, but this release is uncharacteristically quiet. Eerie, understated, but positively rigid with tension and bristling with excitement, this composition is an unusual performance/installation/composition realised partly in performance in a church, and partly at Helmut’s own home. On this 2006 recording (and incidentally only the third time the work has ever been performed), he’s joined by the violinist Elisabeth Gmeiner and the percussionist Will Guthrie. The first thing to note is we shouldn’t really think of it as a musical performance. It’s mostly process sounds created by organ pipes, said pipes being in the personal possession of Helmut Schäfer and laid on the floor of his house while he was “recuperating” them. When he puts hair dryers at the mouths of the pipes and switches them on, they blow air along the pipes and interesting resonant sounds emerge. He adds live electronic processing to this set-up, and the contributions of Gmeiner and Guthrie are likewise captured within that processing field, such that their strings and percussive blows are also drenched in the resonant atmosphere. According to Guthrie, nobody really had to do very much playing at all – the pipes were doing all the work. It is utterly compelling music, with plenty of incident and action (none of your reduced improv here thanks) and shot through with a core of inner blackness that means Thought Provoking III exudes a heavy vibe of brimstone and brooding. Acoustic industrial music, almost. Other recent experimental types come to my mind who have dabbled with the organ pipes or the church organ, and usually come off the worst, but Schäfer is clearly the sort of fearless larger-then-life personality who wrestles crocodiles just for fun, and he masters the pipes in like manner. I mention the crocodile because this particular set-up reminds me of the music of Yoshi Wada, and while Wada is strong on your basic resonant acoustics and gigantic pipes, his uplifting and joyous music is nowhere near as dark as this particular blackened groaner. Next time I’m having a nightmare about vultures gnawing my liver, I’ll know what music to use as a suitable backdrop. Purchase now to bathe your sinful soul in 24 minutes of breathy doom, and as an added bonus you get ‘Averaging Down 20XX’, a piece by that well-known sonic ogre of noise Zbigniew Karkowski which he made using Thought Provoking III as a sound source. A double dose of very unique and powerful art music.

Poumons en pierre

Fab French improviser Jean-Luc Guionnet continues his interest in the workings of the organ an as instrument in a big way on Stones Air Axioms (CIRCUM-DISC LX005), which is realised as a collaboration with Thomas Tilly, the field recording guy who I last heard making his micro-recordings of pond life and beetles on the surface of the water which sounded like miniature fire alarms. This release is a very precise site-specific work to do with the acoustic dynamics in the Cathedral of St Pierre in Poitiers, and at first glance you may think this is an area that has been thoroughly explored by releases on the Touch label. I refer to the Spire project which has released two CDs to my knowledge, but it seems that multi-layered project, active since 2004, has since blossomed into something even more ambitious 1. When conceptual artists, musicians and radical types are faced with religious buildings, they tend to wax didactic with implied criticism of the established Church, and this release’s notes suggest that “the architecture constraining this air volume is complex and ruled by doctrine”, while also conceding that a cathedral also “offers a wide resonance to support the religious discourse”. But these are not tremendously loaded statements, and the main thrust of the work is simply a formal exploration of space, acoustics, and sound production.

The principal element in the execution here has involved careful measuring of the internal space of the building 2, noting the position of columns, the distances between walls, and experimenting with the punctuations of the silences between each attack of the organ. It’s as though the entire building were a container of sentences, of musical language, or a space that enriches such language. I think it’s great that they expended so much mental effort in finding out what the original architects of these buildings had pretty much planned all along, and which any regular communicant of the Catholic church could probably have told them in two sentences, but no matter. This is still a strong work of intriguing sound art, full of careful preparations and very intensive sound generation experiments.

The organ drones are accompanied by sine wave generators, and by white noise generators, and the very formalised experiments in minimalism have a certain rigid absurdity that outmanoeuvres La Monte Young, even. Where ‘Air Volume’ contains five minutes of dramatic rushing sounds like wild winds set loose in the transept, the 14-minute ‘For Standing Waves’ is a fantastic harmonic droner with a suitably solemn tone. Monumentally beautiful music. Its sister piece, ‘For Standing Waves Disturbances’, seems to incorporate more rescued ambiences from the space itself, and feels less closed-off than the previous piece. Here, you almost feel as if the stones themselves are breathing – a gigantic pair of ancient lungs. Another long and faintly alarming sustained organ tone carries on for half the track’s length, never resolving, and becoming almost unendurable. Then there’s ‘Close, bells, architectural remains’, which feels more like a documentary recording (with its random interventions which feel almost chaotic in the context of this much pure sound), nonetheless incorporating some delicious sub-bass throbbing tones that, when played at appropriate volumes, should help to activate your inner Holy Ghost from the feet up or the head downwards. Recorded in 2010, this was part of a festival called MicroClima. Mélanie Bourgoin did the restrained design for the package. Arrived here 31 January 2012. Very good!

  1. Last month saw their 13th live event realised under this aegis.
  2. This is the only instance of a CD release I’ve seen where two artists credit themselves with “measurements”.

Karn Evil 9

Some very fine improvised livelitude from the London trio of Decoy, who arrive here with a studio album Vol. 1 Spirit (WEAVIL40CD) recorded by Anna Tjan and released on the Bo’Weavil Recordings label. Alexander Hawkins experiments wildly and confidently with his Hammond C3 organ, pouring out phrases that cross freely around the zones of Jimmy Smith-styled organ jazz, free improvisation, and progressive rock, with even some occasional episodes of uncertain atonal noise thrown in to boot. Drummer Steve Noble and bass player John Edwards have no problem at all following the lightning-change exploits of this updated Keith Emerson figure, resulting in a fine and entertaining album. Throwing himself at the keys with the gusto of a feral leopard, even allowing the very sound of his rotating Leslie speaker onto the record as a whirling distorted drone, Hawkins seems determined to find a new voice and a new context for this great vintage instrument. Just fab!

Acting on the suggestion of Matthew Bourne, New York jazz trumpeter Brian Groder got in touch (with a friendly hand-written note) to send us the album from his team-up with Burton Greene, the estimable veteran of free jazz piano. Groder & Greene (LATHAM RECORDS LATHAM 5409-2) was recorded in 2007, issued last year and is an exceptionally fine example of modern free jazz. The first thing I noticed was the vivid recording quality, allowing the contributions of the five players to shine like diamonds in crystal clear water. Invited in by that warm sound, you start to decode and untangle the ingenious compositions within, which have all the depth and complexity we could hope for from such clearly intelligent and well-informed players; at their best, the quintet manage to pull things in five or six different directions at once, giving the amazed listener a feast of elaborate free-thinking ideas to feed on. What’s most exciting, for example on ‘Separate Being’, is how the piano holds down a completely opposing argument which contradicts yet somehow complements the discussion being held between Groder and his partner Rob Brown on the alto. As I savour these ‘Cryptic Means’, I’m tempted to reinvestigate Greene’s work on the 1969 BYG LPs. He may have had more fire and bombast 40 years ago, but I like his more considered approach much better; there’s deep wisdom and experience engrained in these mystical, odd-fitting abstractolid chord shapes of his. Plus there’s even one track graced with a witty Mingus-inspired title, which wins extra points with this paid-up fan of Th’ Mingster. Fabulous work, totally recommended to fans of 1960s Dolph and early Ornette. Also from Groder, his Torque (LATHAM 5106-2) album from 2006, again boasting a superb sound quality and featuring the flute work of Sam Rivers.

Last year I was very pleased to discover the music of Locrian, a Chicago duo who seemed to be doing something exciting with their excessive amplified guitar and electronic sludge-drone, overlaid with Black Metal elements and wallowing in supernatural paranoiac slime. For Territories (AT WAR WITH FALSE NOISE ATWAR073 / BASSES FREQUENCES BF23/ BLOODLUST! B!147 / SMALL DOSES DOSE85), the duo of Foisy and Hannum have supplemented their power with players recruited from Nachtmystium, Yakuza, Velnias and Bloodyminded – all gloom and hate merchants to a man. The addition of vocals, synth, drums, sax and an extra guitar has certainly made the Locrian overall sound a lot thicker and, in places, more textured and detailed. I feel however that some of the relentless and obsessional qualities that they exhibited so convincingly as a two-man act have been slightly compromised by the need to co-operate with these other bloodthirsty musicians. ‘Procession of Ancestral Brutalism’ is one example of the new band dynamic, but in spite of its killer title it’s not much more than identikit Black Metal. However it would be churlish to deny that overall, this is an album of horrifying power, particularly on the slow and broody cuts like ‘Ring Road’ which over ten agonising minutes of painful squalor and heavy monotony soon convinces you of the presence of imminent disaster. Vinyl copy of this item known to exist, unless sold out by now.

Inclusion Principle is the team-up of Martin Archer and Hervé Perez, and on The Leaf Factory Fallback (DISCUS 38CD) we’ve another dazzling example of their rich and elaborate studio constructions made from saxophones, field recordings, software instruments and keyboards. Unlike so many who over-process their work in the relative calm of the digital world as they gaze serenely at the laptop screen and bleed all the passion out of their music with a million and one unnecessary tweaks, Archer and Perez never once lose sight of the live recordings that are the heart of this work. There’s gallons of aural pleasure to hear what they do with filters, edits and near-impossible twists of sonic taffy-pulling, but at the core of each astonishing track you’ll hear the puff of human lungs making saxophones howl and bellow like motorised dinosaurs. Another tremendous piece confirming Archer’s under-recognised skill for creating truly inventive and powerful electro-acoustic music. It baffles me why Chris Cutler hasn’t phoned him up for a duo date. This album was paid for by advance subscription (something Cutler used to do on his Recommended Records label to sell mail-order only vinyl goodies), and the names of Archer’s supporters are printed on the back cover.

Cleveland’s finest electronics trio Emeralds have their new album released on Editions Mego later this month, in both CD and double LP formats. Does It Look Like I’m Here? (EDITIONS MEGO eMEGO 101 and 101V) compiles new work with some A sides and B sides from very limited seven-inch vinyl releases on their own labels, Wagon and Gneiss Things, and many of the highly enjoyable pieces here last for three or four minutes, offering a refreshing shower of lush and dazzling mantra-music. These three synth-meisters are proud of their clean and sharp synth lines, eschewing distortion or the kind of evil embittered black grunts favoured by Nate Young, and rich and wondrous melodic impressions result from their simple repetitive approach. Unafraid of the Cluster / Eno / T Dream labels which writers fling at them like sticky toffees, Emeralds freely wallow in the soundworlds of prog-rock and Krautrock and bolster their work with quasi-futuristic titles like ‘Double Helix’ and ‘Science Center’. A very convincing follow-up to their great album for No Fun Productions, which we noted here.

Charlemagne Palestine 1998 interview

Here be a podcast of our interview with Charlemagne Palestine, of which a transcript was published in issue 5. This interview took place September 1998 at St John’s Church Waterloo Road, under the organ loft; the sound you can hear is the organ ostinato. Many thanks to Charlemagne for granting his permission to publish this podcast online.

The podcast is also attached to the page for the fifth issue.


Organ Not Organ

Floating Signal (TICONZERO TCZ012-1) sees the combined efforts of Simon Balestrazzi, Max Eastley, Alessandro Olla and Z’EV making much scrapey and exciting textural noise in various locations in Italy, including in the crypt of St Domenico Church in Cagliari. The two Italians are using laptops and amplified objects, while Eastley deploys his famous Arc (half-sculpture, half-instrument), Z’EV plays unamplified percussion and the guitarist Marco Cappelli plucks his strings on a coupla cuts. Its release coincided with an avant-garde music festival which took place in November in Cagliari, called Signal.

The Norwegian label Roggbif Records, run by Sten Ove Toft, used to deal in CDRs, but now he’s leapt forward into the world of proper CD pressings and printed covers with a couple of great new Utarm releases. The newie is Panic Chamber (ROGGBIF022), an astringent and terrifying blast of scary-atmosfearic Black Metal whose cover boasts alarming images of torture, snakes, and diabolic ritual, with plenty of screaming voices and agonised metallic guitar within. With titles like ‘Scratches in the coffin of human existence’, you’re guaranteed a bleak and painful listen with this grisloid abortion. Substitute of Dimention Hell (ROGGBIF023) is a reissue of this project’s CDR from 2006, described as ‘a desperate metal album’ and one which I recall fondly as an effectively harrowing portrait of existence in the Underworld. Buy both of these to give yourself a taste of eternal damnation!

Dialis are an Italian duo who play a kind of symphonic chamber-prog low-key jazz music on Precatio (NO NUMBER CD), sometimes adding vocals in the service of songs such as ‘A Fragile Rebirth’ and ‘A Sweet Eclipse’. These lyrical and poetical explorations all depict humans facing some sort of crisis and struggle in their lives, hopefully resolving their very personal dilemmas to some satisfaction. The release is bolstered with a booklet of monochrome photos showing details from churches, architecture and landscapes, presumably in and around their home of Montemiletto. Much effort and time has been poured into making this heartfelt release.

D’Incise has I think played with Diatribes, the didactic improvising combo from Switzerland, but here he be with a solo effort Sécheresse Plantée en Plein Ciel (GRUENREKORDER Gr 071). This is an interesting approach to field recordings, which allows the possibility of radical cut-ups and electronic treatments, to create a disorienting sonic portrait of everyday life in the Czech Republic and Poland. The murmured banalities of humankind are given an extra thrilling and slightly dangerous edge by these digital interpolations.

Austrian label Sulatron-Records, operated by the genial Dave Schmidt, doesn’t really deal in experimental music as such but his nouveau-prog releases often find a sympathetic ear in these quarters. Uran‘s self-titled CD (sulatron-records 0904) is an entertaining and slightly wackoid record of ‘electropunk spacerock instrumental’ music packed with nonsensical titles and cartoony images inside and outside the cover. Uran are from Gothenborg, but clearly do not operate in the same zones of introverted gloom-drone dark music such as we enjoy on the Fang Bomb label. Great rockist fun for prog and krautrock fans with plenty of analogue synth doodles to brighten your day.

From the Spanish label Audiolab-Arteleku we have Gezurrezko Joera (AUDIOLAB ERTZ 5), a great release of eccentric improvised minimal organ music played in the church of Altzate in Bera by the wonderful French performer, Jean-Luc Guionnet. We don’t hear enough from this talented fellow, whose Pentes CD for the label A Bruit Secret has long been a personal favourite. His approach to the organ is to treat it like a cross between a saxophone (his other instrument) and a mixing desk, using the stops and diapasons like filters and switches (which in one sense, they are). This single 43-minute performance takes a little while before it lifts off, but be assured it will reach stratospheric proportions in its quiet and unassuming way. The cover art (executed by Jean-Luc) is called ‘organ not organ’ and seems to find consonances between the church instrument and parts of the human anatomy. Recorded in 2008 as part of the ERTZ Other Music Festival, this one’s a certified beaut!

All above received in the Sound Projector Tongs 16-18 November 2009

Organ music (TSP radio show 17/06/05)

  1. Aaron Copland, ‘Preamble (For a Solemn Occasion)’
    Organ played by Hans-Ola Ericsson
    From Organ Music from The USA, SWEDEN BIS BIS-CD-510 CD (1992)
  2. Olivier Messiaen, ‘Apparition de l’Église Eternelle’ (1932)
    Organ played by the composer
    From Messiaen par lui-même. L’Oeuvre d’Orgue (1926-1951), FRANCE PATHE MARCONI / EMI 2 C 153-16291/6 6 x LP (1978)
  3. Ikarus, ‘Eclipse’ (1971) (fade)
    Hammond organ played by Wolf Dieter Struntz
    From Ikarus, GERMANY SECOND BATTLE SBLP 032 LP (1995)
  4. Bengt Hambraeus, ‘Interferences for the Organ’ (1961-1962) (fade)
    Played by Karl Erik Welin
    From Interferences / Constellations II, UNITED KINGDOM PHILIPS (FOUR FRONT) 4FE8001 LP (1965)
  5. Moondog, ‘Logrundr no XIII in F-sharp Major’ + ‘Logrundr No XII in B-flat Minor’
    Played by Fritz Storfinger
    From Moondog. Instrumental Music by Lous Hardin, USA MUSICAL HERITAGE SOCIETY MHS 3903 LP (ND)
  6. Steamboat Switzerland, ‘VI’
    Hammond organ played by Dominik Blum
    From wertmüller, GERMANY GROB 655 CD (2005)
  7. Leif Elggren, ‘Royal Organ’
    From Spire. Organ works past present & future, UK TOUCH TONE 20 2 x CD (2004)
  8. Philip Jeck, ‘Stops’
    From Spire, op cit.
  9. Finnbogi Pétursson, ‘Diabolus’
    From Spire, op cit.
  10. Emerson Lake and Palmer, ‘Eruption’ + ‘Stones of Years’ (fade)
  11. Arne Nordheim, ‘Colorazione’ (1968) (fade)
    Organ played by Kare Kolberg
    From Colorazione / Solitaire / Signals, UNITED KINGDOM PHILIPS 854.005 AY LP (1969)
  12. György Ligeti, ‘Etude Nr 1, Harmonies’
    Played by Gerd Zacher
    From 2nd String Quartet et al, GERMANY DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 2530 392 LP (1973)
  13. Sun Ra And His Astro Infinity Arkestra, ‘Friendly Love I’ (1973)
    Organ played by Sun Ra
    From Pathways to Unknown Worlds / Friendly Love, USA EVIDENCE ECD 22218 CD (2000)
  14. Oliver Messiaen, ‘Le Banquet Céleste’ (1926)
    From L’Oeuvre d’Orgue, op cit.

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM