Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Review of Dead Edits St.Uns: ceremonial venerations and devotions

Much thanks to Frans de Waard for his thoughtful review of ceremonial venerations and devotions in Vital Weekly:

"There is more to this than what I list in the header of this review; there is much more than that. In the final year of his life, when recovering from a train accident, Z'EV stayed with Blake Edwards in Chicago for quite some time. Edwards is the man behind Dead Edits, a duo he does with Eric Lunde, and various of their releases deal with the Z'EV legacy and more in particular Z'EV project with voices, which he called UNS. On February 24, 1980, UNS played live for the first time and Dead Edits have declared 24th of February as St. UNS day. This box provides you with everything you need for a proper celebration of St. Uns day; "ceremonial venerations and devotions (7” lathe, CDR, 3”CDR, book, votive candle, foldable shrine, fetish and veneration objects". When I reviewed a double CD by UNS on C.I.P. (see Vital Weekly 721), 'I quoted the Industrial Culture Handbook about UNS saying, a "band producing "low-tech" rhythms and rants (the vocalist's name is Saul Zev)". Through some sort of lo-fi process is applied to the voice and it all sounds warped and folded up. There is surely also some sort of loops employed here and the text as such is not easy to recognize (as in: not at all). It is indeed rhythm and rants going down here. Dead Edits have three sound carriers here, in which they work out how the UNS sounds work and they come remarkably close to the original. C.I.P., Blake Edwards' previous label enterprise, released 'An UNS Momento' as the inaugural CD release for the label a long time ago (see Vital Weekly 174) and comparing what Dead Edits are doing on the 5"CDR here comes very close. Here we have short pieces, noisy, repetitive and, most of all, a very captivating listening. As said, I have no way of knowing how they do it, but they do it. On the 3"CDR they have one long, twenty-minute piece, which is more in line with longer UNS pieces, as documented on 'What Does The Brain Have To Do With It' (see Vital Weekly 721), leaving also the voice territory a bit, which some more field recording material (or so it seems), which all mixes up into a lengthy and noisy excursion, which is less voice-based than the shorter pieces. On the 7" it is all a bit more traditional UNS with voices and a cut-up recording of organ playing drones on one side and voices and loops on the other side. Altogether this is a wealth of music and with some interesting variety throughout the various formats.
    There is also a small booklet with further texts and images, all cut-up, distorted and mysteriously and deliberately vague. All of this in a neat black box, crafted with much love for the actual physical release. A most complete package, I would think. There are only 24 copies of this made, so should want one, there is no time to waste."

Sunday, May 3, 2020

dead edits presents: st.uns—ceremonial venerations and devotions

Hello all,

very excited to announce ballast NVP 025: dead edits presents: st.uns—ceremonial venerations and devotions 
(7” lathe, CDR, 3”CDR, book, votive candle, foldable shrine, festisch and veneration objects)

February 24 marked the first public performance of Z’EV’s uns project in 1980, and dead edits could not let this date go unnoticed, as both of us are not only fans of Z’EV’s uns project but also previously paid tribute to Z’EV’s lesser heralded works with our authorized "forgery” of his “editeditions contexts” 7” in 2015. 

So, in mid-January, we got to work and decided to take another lap in our quest to shine more adulation on Z’EV’s work with this release, which began with our declaration that Feb 24 should be recognized as “st.uns day.”

• The 7” lathe (plays at 33 RPM), contains both homages to and “reinterpretations” of uns material. (The center label awaits your opening.)

• The  5” CDR focuses more on the uns style captured in the “life sentence” release from 1986 (and subsequently reissued by my former label, CIP, as a chunk of the “an uns momento” CD I released in 1999—not unsurprisingly, perhaps, the first CD I released on the label)

• The 3” CDR contains a more “long form” style-inspired composition (not ~ as ~ speech / utterance driven: similar to the longer form recordings on CIP’s “what does the brain have to do with it” 2 CD set from 2010 or the “past todays” track in the die stand reissue of production and decay of spacial relations, 2006)

• The foldable shrine and votive candle both are decorated with screen-printed cut up text

• The “st.uns” pin is fabricated to replicate the matchbook cover Z’EV described seeing in NYC when he decided, “uns, that’s a hell of a name for a band” (prior to being told it the matchbook cover actually said “sun” and he was holding it upside down)

• The book contains some of the texts created for this release, as well as uns inspired artwork

Some adjacent festisch objects and hand manufactured prints round out the release.

Edition of 24 signed and numbered copies, and the price in the US is $42 ppd. If you're overseas, please get in touch so I can calculate shipping. Payment can be sent via paypal to

thanks as always for your interest and support!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Vertonen: Venn Diagram Proposals (Ballast NVP021)

Welcome to the first release of 2020 for ballast!

Ballast NVP021: Vertonen-Venn Diagram Proposals: An Activity Book with Complementary Audio (36 page book, CDR and 5.5” x 6.7” Euler lathe) aims to deliver about as directly what the title says as possible.

The audio on both the CDR and the lathe are inspired by the circular facet of Venn diagrams; whether it’s the needle running along a runout groove, a record skip, a loop created from an audio snippet, or layers of any (or all!), the aim is to create a meditative quality, either as one creates the diagrams or as stand-alone audio.

What is clearly the oddest part of the release, the lathe (plays at 33 RPM), was a bit of good fortune: a lathe cutter had some drilled Euler lathes (Euler diagrams being a less restrictive form of Venn diagrams) and the size and quantity fit with the book I had already designed, so it was an opportunity I could not pass up. And, of course, I could not resist placing the vertonen stamp “in between” the apparent “common area” of the two sides, as I am the common connection between the two sides...

Edition of 30 signed and numbered copies, and the price in the US is $25 ppd. If you're overseas, please get in touch so I can calculate shipping. Payment can be sent via paypal to

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

vertonen: piano miniatures (cobalt studies I-V)

Vertonen: Piano Miniatures (Cobalt Studies I-V) 5 x business card CDR, edition of 20

I’ve been releasing audio as Vertonen since 1991, and this release is, as far as I can assess, a bit of an aural anomaly, which is kind of exciting.

I had done two recordings on the piano at my folks’ house and decided to cut up and reassemble the recordings in a manner that, perhaps obvious to many, pays homage to the utterly brilliant Conlon Nancarrow.

Each copy comes with a unique collage, and the artwork on the business card sleeves was created with the 88 keys on the piano in mind. The release is housed in a clear plastic playing card case.

price is $20 ppd in the US; overseas orders, please get in touch so I can calculate shipping based on your location.

vertonen: dislocation studies 4 x 3" CDR and book

Each of the discs for Dislocation Studies creates a place that does not exist as presented—if only by dint of geography and chronology. Each recording is assembled from elements of field recordings collected from different locations, seasons, and events and also combines recordings made under different circumstances (covert, overt, active, or passive recording).

The texts hover around narrators who have allowed themselves, through mental or physical choices, to be enveloped in unfortunate environments—or wish to extricate themselves from said environments but lack the full capacity to do so.

This release is in an edition of 33 signed and numbered copies.
$20 ppd in the US; for folks overseas, please contact me so I can calculate shipping.

The art on the CDR sleeves for this release, by the way, are gestural paintings of the four cardinal compass directions.

Monday, October 28, 2019

NVP011: Children of the Stones re-envisioned by Arvo Zylo 2 x 3" CDR now here!

Perhaps the best thing about helming a super tiny label is one definitely goes at one’s own pace; the earth keeps spinning, and when a release is ready, it manifests and we all move on, happier and aurally sated.

That said, there are some times when a release takes an excessively long time to come to fruition (notably, the recent Chop Shop 2 LP set, which holds a personal “record” of nearly 8 years, and that doesn’t count my previous communication with Scott about a release since 1995-6).

The release I am excited to share today is also one that has been percolating for quite a while: the audio files had been on my machine since January 2014, the graphics import date is 2015, and the bulk of my email communicaton with Arvo is from 2016.

There are a lot of reasons this took so long to get going, mostly me, but perhaps everything happens for a reason…and this is a long wind up to announce my extreme pleasure to finally release into the world:

ballast NVP011: Children of the Stones re-envisioned by Arvo Zylo (2 x 3” CDR)

I think I really got to know Arvo maybe 10 or so years ago, mostly through his live performances. Whether solo or with ensembles, his live sets were almost always intense, dense, ride-the-mixer-into-the-red, primal “industrial:” sanders played on sheet metal, that sort of stuff. It was material I really enjoyed hearing live.

So when Arvo sent me the audio for this release, I was surprised to hear the result of his densely stirred, multiple layers of looping and phasing (as in, triple digit layering, an extremely common pathway for his studio recordings), was minimal—yet immensely immersive. Tones, frequencies, and snippets of sound (all sourced from the TV series of the same name) layer, swim, and ebb around one another to create aural waves that then radiate and fold back into themselves. Instead of Haters, I was reminded of Hafler Trio or Nurse With Wound. It’s a rare combination of breathing room and myriad layers of shifting and sliding parts: new elements and transitions seem to peek through over repeated listens.

Some additional info about the release.

This release comes in a hardback book-like package with a hand stamped cover, screen-printed interior, two small posters, and is numbered and signed by Arvo. The edition is 55 copies, and it is $16 postage paid in the US. (If you’re overseas, let me know so I can calculate shipping).

I am thrilled to see this make its way into the world, and I cannot stress my appreciation enough to Arvo for his patience, meticulousness, and determination of vision with this release.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Chop Shop: Primer 2 x LP and blacktop_audio CDR reviews!

Thanks to Frans de Waard for his thoughtful reviews of both of these releases!


Scott Konzelmann's project Chop Shop is one of the most underrated music projects I know. The reasons for it I am not entirely sure of; partly it is that there never have been a lot of releases and also never a lot of concerts, but also misfortune in which Konzelmann lost his sound tools in a flood. His tools include rusty speakers, ancient reel-to-reel tapes and it is some truly great noise music. There is very little out there on a similar level. Active since the late 80s, there are not a lot of releases; six albums (of which only 'Oxide' ever made it to these pages, Vital Weekly 625), plus a bunch of singles including a double 10" with heavy steel plates and a 3" CD on the sadly no longer existing label V2_Archief. The latter with a soft lead cover; another release came with broken security glass. All of these releases are not easy to get hold off and all of these show what Chop Shop is about and that's the physical sounds through visible sources. The covers look like the music sounds; rusty and loud. Konzelmann created speaker installations of old speakers, through which he sends his sounds; loops of tape or records and in general these sounds are picked up from space, so there is an additional 'harsh' feeling about this. This is music that needs to play at a loud volume, as you would miss out some of finer frequencies. Maybe therein lies also one of the reasons that Chop Shop isn't that well known. It was never easy to travel with these heavy speaker objects and besides getting lost in a flood a record is perhaps not the same as seeing and hearing one in the rusty flesh.
    This double LP consists of Chop Shop's earliest recordings. The first LP is culled from his first cassette, 'Primitive Power/Positive Force' from 1987. Originally this was a ninety minute cassette, but part of it is apparently (it is one of those Chop Shop releases I never heard) has "sampling that would have raised serious copyright infringement/clearance issues", while another part is still available as a CDR, so the remainder is now on the first LP. Here we have Chop Shop in its earliest incarnation and the presence of a drum machine in the opening piece is rather surprising. On the other side, there is a piece, which is culled from looping pop music (I think) and along with some of the heavy electronics used, it is not difficult to see Chop Shop’s first release to be part of then-burgeoning power electronic scene. Having not found his own voice yet, this is, however, something of historical value, Chop Shop’s first steps to what became his trademark sound, traces of which can already be found in this record.
    The second LP contains the C45 cassette 'Scraps', as released by Chop Shop in an edition of 200 and which was available at Generator, Gen Ken Montgomery's store/gallery in New York, where Chop Shop presented his pieces as installations. Montgomery is responsible for some of the liner notes here. It's on this cassette that Chop Shop's sound fully matures into this rich junk/scrap metal sound; the heavy amplification of what seems to be the sound of a rusty plate on a turntable or the stretch loop of a reel-to-reel recorder. At times it seems like there is something attached to the speaker, which adds an additional layer of rattling, which, again, adds to the literal vibrancy of the music. The instability of machines used are not covered up, or edited out, but used as sounds by themselves. Sometimes a quick change, a rough cut, changes the material from one abrasive field of sound to the next. Now, there was at the time very little that was alike. There is, of course, the lack of visuals here, the rusty constructions in metal and perhaps also the sonic overload (depending on what you are willing to do with your volume setting at home) is something that needs no controlling, but you get the drift.
    The release of this great record marks the end of the C.I.P., this being one of those much-wanted re-issues and a dream now realized, which is perhaps a sad thing. However, the next imprint is already in place, Ballast NVP, for some time now. Of course with Chop Shop’s analogue approach there is no download code, but I guess you expected that already. (FdW)
**  **  **

If you start reading this and your first thought was 'Blacktop_audio'? Never heard of them? Then that is no surprise. This group existed for four years, in Boise, Idaho and was the musical side of a 'street theatre' group called Blacktop. By accident Blake Edwards, the man behind Vertonen and Ballast NVP heard some of their music when he was exchanging sound material with Jeph Jerman (a.k.a. Hands To) in the early 90s. He liked what he heard, but forgot about it until in 2002 he was cleaning out his cupboard and found that tape again. Online research didn't result in much, but with the help of Jerman, a former member was tracked down, and in particularly Penny Chapman was helpful in getting this release out. It comes with an introductory text by her, as well as a long interview she did with Jeph Jerman, plus a list of gigs and descriptions of their releases; all cassettes in editions of 11 to 20 copies. There are no pictures of the group in action or otherwise, which leaves something to imagine. It all makes up a very interesting read, which is something that Ballast NVP usually takes off very well. The group used very primitive means, such as air organs, radios, keyboards, skipping records, cassettes and guitar. This is not your usual no wave group, but something that comes very much from the early days of noise music. Not Throbbing Gristle alike or Whitehouse, but it's easy to see influences by Boyd Rice's black record for Mute Records, but with a bit more variation when it comes to using instruments, technology and even with the odd melodic touch; I would guess from some kind of record stuck in a lock groove. It is all quite the prototype industrial music of the early 80s and I would think that had this group not split up/gave up and existed for some more years they could have been on worldwide group of cassette enthusiasts and even have acquired some 'fame', or even a re-issue or two on hipper re-issue labels. This re-issue is most welcome, surely, but at fifty copies remains obscure, I guess. The music is great but not without flaws; some of these pieces are just a bit too long, and understandable from the point of time. Back then it was a thing to do: stick on noise for too long and be provocative. Maybe some more pieces, but shorter would have been great as well? Or maybe this is it? In which case I didn't say a word. Looking for obscure historical noise music? Blacktop_audio is something that quite rightfully should not be forgotten. (FdW)