Delayer - Breath By Breath By Breathing (CDR by X-ZF)
Birds Of Tin - Motion Mimic (CDR by X-ZF)
John Hudak - May 5th (CDR by X-ZF)
Rapoon - Dream Circle (CDR by X-ZF)
from Vital Weekly # 363 Week 11 (15/3/03)
review by: Frans de Waard

X-ZF is a new, small label that has links to the Pretentious label and website, for those who do not know: the world of Muslimgauze and Rapoon. The Pretentious label is exclusively devoted to releases of Muslimgauze music, but X-ZF releases artists of a different kind. The releases are "that most labels do not find profitable enough to be of interest but that we feel are worthy of release to the world. We will also be re-issuing material that falls in the same categories".
Needles to say that these releases are on CDR, because the label rather fills a gap, rather then being a business for profit. Hurray.

The first four releases are now available and there is a strong linkage between them.

The name X-ZF hints a bit at Zoviet*France, and with their first release being Delayer this is no surprise; at least if you know that behind Delayer we find Andy Eardley, who was once a member of Zoviet*France. Zoviet*France has always been a collective of persons, who wished to remain anonymous, but as people left and started to pursue their own interests, names become more important. Andy was part of Zoviet*France as well as Horizon 222 (maybe it's an idea to re-issue their 'Through The Round Window' on CDR on X-ZF?). The pieces on this release are sketches or alternative versions Andy recorded while being part of Zoviet*France and Horizon 222. So it's funny to hear his version of the Zoviet*France's track for 'Ambient 4: Isolationism' or the studio versions of parts from 'Three Of Swans' (Horizon 222) and 'What Is Not True' (Zoviet*France). These are all trademark Zoviet France like tracks, not to be missed by the real fans. 'Urban Chant', the final track on the CD, takes up thirty seven minutes and reminded me of some overtone singing, processed through a whole bunch of delays and reverb-units. Although nice by intent, maybe a bit overlong.

Unrelated to Zoviet*France is Birds Of Tin, an American one guy group who has releases on CDR before. Although, I might hasten to add that his sound is surely related to the old Zoviet*France sound. Probably using analog four track (the cover doesn't say, but I think it is) and a bunch of sound effects, Birds Of Tin create spacious sound collages of processed music instruments (maybe guitars or synths) as well as sped up tapes from an old reel to reel. Densely layered - even at four tracks only - clouded by the use of so many sound effects. Heavy mood music in the best Zoviet*France tradition, but also related to a whole bunch of other ambient industrialists, such as Illusion Of Safety, Maeror Tri/Troum and Beequeen. Maybe some of the tracks are a bit too spacious (i.e. too long) but overall it's a nice work, one of the better Birds Of Tin I have heard.

Also unrelated to Zoviet*France and here also sound wise is John Hudak. This American composer of fame has been long time producer of lengthy sound works. His 'May 5' (I guess the title refers to the day this was created) processes sound of an unknown nature via Max/Msp software. Hudak's music is best understood as 'setting an audio environment' - minimal sounds with hardly any change - or so it seems - that works best, at least for me, when playing at a medium volume, so that it fills my environment in a pleasant way. Music that floats by, like a wave, a drift, but all in a very calm and relaxing way. John Hudak is from all the minimalists mentioned in Vital Weekly, probably the real die-hard amongst them.

The last new release is rather an old one. Rapoon, who is now commonly known via his many releases for such labels as Staalplaat and Soleilmoon, debuted in 1992 with 'Dream Circle'. Robin Storey had then just left Zoviet*France, because he didn't want to be part of the anonymous collective and wished more credit for his own work. Although parts of 'Dream Circle' have been re-issued by Soleilmoon on 'Recurring Dream Circle', it's good to see this available again. There are strong links between the Zoviet*France sound of that time ('Just An Illusion' was for instance a work that Storey never got full credit for) and this one. The tabla playing and overall ethnic feel became a stronger element however for Rapoon then it was for Zoviet*France. This is an overall more up-tempo work then the Zoviet*France work, but the drones are the more or less the same. I think I coined the term 'industrial raga' back then and that still works well. (FdW)

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