1. Machinefabriek: Instuif (audio version)
2. Wink: That it stays winter for ever
3. Liondaler: Mitt Andra Hem
cd on White Box, November 2010
A Japan only release, for sale at the gigs of the three artists, in Tokyo (16-29 November). The 'Instuif (audio version)' track is a slightly reworked version of the soundtrack of the 'Instuif' dvd.
But Instuif appears on Diorama
Labelled as the 'Masters of the Dark Arts', there can be no denying the ambition and scope of the tracks presented by each of the artists here. Machinefabriek provides a 17 minute drone fest to open the proceedings with a track labeled 'Instuif.' Laced with an accessible, warm and fuzzy loop of electronic haze, the track builds slowly with minute glitches and crackles. The immediate effect of this is a meditative trance that is inflicted on the listener. As the music builds and the listener becomes more enveloped in the sound, the frequency of these glitches increase, while occasional drones fuse into this mesh of electronic glow. Certainly one of the more comforting recordings from the huge outpouring of music we've come to hear from Machinefabriek, 'Instuif' evokes thoughts of luminous colours such as oranges and yellows whilst still maintaining the coolness of a winter sun. One senses the flickering light of a burning wood fire, its spitting flames and the moody shadows it gives off, as the track comes to its slow conclusion.
'Dat it Altyd Winter Biluwt', composed by Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra continues the ambient, drone filled path of this record's opener, but strips itself of the warm colours found within 'Instuif.' Instead, one senses an icy coolness thanks to the humming, wind-like drones that fill this piece. Metallic sounds provide an unintentional percussion and these fabricated bells are joined by an echoed voice and guitar. In what feels like a greater exploration of the outdoors, the drones from the beginning of the record meld together to form a backdrop to a gloomy, sorrowful guitar. When the spoken voice returns, there is an eerie sense of loneliness that transcends the music. One senses an isolated individual lost in a blanket of snow covered fields. Indeed, as the electronic sounds take over from the voice to close off the track, it as if the individual has been consumed by this emptiness and is engulfed in an expanse of white.
Liondialer closes off the record with a 22 minute composition entitled 'Mitt Andra Hem.' Unlike the previous two tracks, a defined use of acoustic instrumentation, rather than a grouping of processed instrumentation introduce the listener to this piece of music. Nonetheless, the playing here is as melancholic as it is beautiful, with Danny Saul providing an emotional take on American folk and raga fused string play. This builds over the first five minutes or so before becoming entrenched with a smoke of echoes and exaggerated notes as Liondialer slowly introduce an electronic manipulation to their instrumentation. Such is the impact of this coating, that eventually all remnants of acoustic guitar become lost, before emerging from the clouds of noise that had previously surrounded it. We hear whispers and cries of what might be Greg Haine's cello, which is tinkered with greatly to remove any true sense of the instrument's natural output. As the track evolves into a more ambivalent existence, torn between its acoustic roots and a highly experimental flow of electronic consciousness, we hear a greater churning of laptop enthused tones before the acoustic sentiments return to conclude the record.With three esteemed artists providing rich, detailed, vast and vivid compositions, 'That it Stays Winter Forever' ensures listeners can explore a body of work that explores experimental musicianship of a high standard. The tonal variety on display here coupled with lengthy tracks means that listeners have plenty of time to invest in gaining a deep understanding of the work produced. As is a constant with limited editions, we understand the packaging will be of a high quality with Jonathan Lees, Hibernate Recordings label head, providing the photography. A recommended purchase, providing even more reason to catch the tour for those lucky enough to be based in Japan!
Released to coincide with a series of common live dates in Tokyo, White Box Recordings have collected three exclusive tracks from Machinefabriek, Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra and Liondialer, each around twenty minutes long, onto a very limited CD album (300 copies). That It Stays Winter Forever may be hinting at a cold and desolate time of the year, and each of the three compositions presented here could be interpreted as bleak and deeply introspective, yet there is a current of warmth circulating through the whole record, made more potent by the use of exquisite textures and sounds.
Prolific is an adjective which doesn't quite do justice to the sheer amount of music churned out by Machinefabriek's Rutger Zuydervelt in the space of just a few years. Scattered on too many labels to mention, his work, while varying a lot in style, has managed to remain consistently interesting and of high quality. Instuif, which kicks off this record, is a slow evolutive piece of drone-based textured electronic music which, while seemingly remaining fairly static, continuously changes, almost imperceptibly, its warm and rich tone glowing increasingly strongly over its course. Endless crackles and miniature static imperfections scar its otherwise highly polished surface, bringing out the rough grainy layer of the overall sound formation. While totally beat-less, there is something strangely hypnotic developing over the course of this track, like often in Zuydervelt's work, articulated around the tiny changes in the tone of the main sonic form.
Brothers Jan and Romke Kleefstra, poet and guitarist respectively, and guitarist Anne Chris Bakker have been touring together for some time now, and have so far released one album together, Wink, published last year on Apollolaan Recordings. Like the Machinefabriek track, Dat It Altyd Winter Bliuwt is a slow evolutive piece with has at its core a warm drone. Poet and vocalist Jan Kleefstra drops rare phrases, spoken in Dutch, while Romke and Bakker work up layers of guitars, bowed and strummed, over the slowly shifting backdrop.
The progression is not quite as linear as that generated by Zuydervelt though, and resembles the relentless ebb and flow of the tide breaking up on a beach. The trio's intense processing results in a series of stark contemplative moments which, beyond their natural bleak aspect, reveal some truly evocative settings.
Greg Haines and White Box mastermind Danny Saul have developed a particular live set up with takes them into tiny venues and pubs, where they perform to totally unprepared, and often despondent, crowds, confronting them with guitar textures and laptop processing. They will presumably be expected when performing the handful of Tokyo dates, and whether this will change the dynamic of their performance is perhaps something the pair are keen to investigate. It is unclear whether Mitt Andra Hem results of live recordings, as was the case with their debut album, Live!, published last year, but the lack of crowd noises is perhaps an indication that the track is the fruit of a different creative process. Unlike the two previous pieces, Mitt Andra Hem opens with an almost pastoral acoustic sequence, but, three minutes in, the rumble of a more composite sound form begins to gain presence, and progressively grows as the original acoustic motif is submitted to increasingly wide reverbs and begins to dilute into the dense soundscape towering over it. Half way through, the acoustic guitar emerges once again of the now declining sonic mass, but it is supplanted by a fresh succession of abrasive sound forms, each more impactful and dense than the previous, until the acoustic surfaces one last time in the dying moments of the piece.
'That It Stays Winter Forever' is the accompanying Japan tour CD from Machinefabriek, Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra and Liondialer released on Mancunian label White Box. After touring together in and around Europe, they decided to play a series of gigs in Japan in November 2010. This limited edition split album features an exclusive composition from each artist, probably representative of their live performances but recorded from March to June 2010, prior to that tour.
Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) opens this album with a majestic 20 min piece called 'Instuif', featuring only a drone and some hard-panned crackles. A deceptively simple setup that reminds of snow falling on an abandoned landscape at dusk. Throughout the track, the drone keeps undulating and growing in intensity, albeit sticking close to its evenly modulated core. Noise crackles offers a very subtly counterpoint right from the beginning but slowly take center stage and become denser and stronger, to eventually disappear â€“ the drone mass becoming beautifully subdued and acquiring a much lighter quality. One is left with a impression of tranquility and peace, in a strange state of drowsiness.
'Dat It Altyd Winter Bliuwt' ('That It Stays Winter Forever') by Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra takes off when 'Instuif' left us, floating between realities. A very gentle droning core grows beautifully out of the nothingness, augmented by careful guitar noises enveloping the listener in a delightful blanket of warm tones. As the piece progresses, Jan Kleefstra masterfully delivers a poem in Frisian language, reminding of a dream-like voice that one can hear but not understand. Those spoken words truly send shivers through the spine and are beautifully accompanied by background processed guitars. As the poem halts, the music develop ever so slowly into more tension allowing Kleefstra to speak one last time before carefully saturated guitar drones take center stage, leaving the listener in a state of shock.
The final track 'Mitt Andra Hem', by Liondialer (Danny Saul and Greg Haines), offers a much needed change of mood. Starting with a very intimate and detailed guitar work, one can feel loneliness and sorrow, played in a strangely uplifting manner. The guitar is then thrown into a giant sonic vortex where notes bounces against each other and disappear into a reverberated void that slowly morphs to become a more shapeless mass. Guitar echoes still resurface but are distorted and more abstract, leaving only a trace of their past presence. Another guitar riff comes back and slowly takes over to occupy the entire sonic space, signaling a new change of direction for the remaining 10 min of the track. Slowly an undulating mass appears and crystallises into a giant wall of sounds that finally decomposes into a beautiful eerie landscape. The last few minutes of this piece are magnificent and breathtaking, to say the least, and give a strong sense of relief and calm.
It is easy to forget that 'That It Stays Winter Forever' is an accompanying tourCD made by three different groups of artists each in different locations. This album is an incredibly focused effort that deserved multiple plays to fully reveal its depth and dimension â€“ a piece that demands attention and surrender.
The impetus for this three-way split CD was a Far East tour that happened in November 2010, the idea being that the release would function as an accompaniment to the Tokyo dates. They're, of course, over now, but the recording itself (issued in a run of 300 copies) remains as a document of what one might have heard at one of the concerts. The so-called 'Masters of the Dark Arts', Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt), Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra (poet Jan and guitarist Romke Kleefstra and guitarist Anne Chris Bakker), and Liondialer (Greg Haines and Danny Saul)â€”are represented by three exclusive tracks on this collection from Manchester-based White Box Recordings.
Though the artists' respective styles differ from one another, one thing they share is an affinity for long-form pieces, with each of their contributions hovering in the vicinity of twenty minutes. Machinefabriek's "Instuif" eases the listener into the recording nicely with a meditative drone characterized by restraint and speckled with a persistent smattering of pops and crackle that calls to mind the image of a fireplace warming a room during the chill of winter.
Though the piece hews closely to a single albeit wavering pitch, the volume of the organ-like chord at the piece's center fluctuates almost imperceptibly, growing louder during one passage and then pulling back in another. Almost as imperceptibly, the intensity of the static and crackle changes in tandem with the volume, reinforcing the notion of the fireplace's warm flicker, though the changes are never so extreme that they disrupt the sense of hypnotic calm that the piece as a whole imparts.
If Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra's "Dat it Altyd Winter Biluwt" sounds similar to Piiptsjilling's recent Experimedia recording, Wurdskrieme, it should, as siblings Jan and Romke Kleefstra appear in both groups (Mariska Baars and Rutger Zuydervelt accompany the brothers in the Piiptsjilling context). As is the case with Piiptsjilling, it is Jan Kleefstra's speaking voice that is the focal point, so captivating is his low-pitched drawl. A sense of menace permeates the jagged, scuttling sounds unspooling behind Kleefstra's Dutch phrases, a quality that turns overt when the voice drops away and the electric guitars swell into expanding and contracting clouds of raw fuzz. In contrast to the relative warmth of the opening piece, the mood in the second is one of gloom and portent, its storm threatening to rise outside in place of the comforting fire inside (Jan's poem, "That it Stays Winter Forever," which is displayed on the inner sleeve, includes lines such as: "Fling with diabolical sharpness / An arrow into your sleepy eyes"). The dramatic and brooding tone remains in place as Jan reappears a final time until he's lost within a blizzard of metallic guitar noise at track's end.
Liondialer's episodic "Mitt Andra Hem" counters its predecessor's electric storm by opening with a surprising foray into acoustic guitar picking of the kind associated with the American folk tradition. The mournful guitar figures stand alone until, four minutes in, they're transformed via electronic manipulations into something resembling a war-torn soundtrack of distant rumbles and general cataclysm. From the ashes of a ruined landscape, rebirth occurs in the form of Saul's re-awakened acoustic guitar picking and the cry of Haine's cello until they too undergo metamorphosis and become a white-hot stream of electrical fire before returning once more to peaceful terra firma, ending as it began with the acoustic guitar in the spotlight.
Though the idea of a three-way recording might appear, on paper at least, to militate against a sense of cohesiveness, That it Stays Winter Forever ends up being more unified a collection that one might have expected. That's due, in no small part, to the appetite for adventurous experimentation manifested by each of the particpants and exemplified by their respective contributions to the hour-long recording. What also recommends the release is its variety, as each of the twenty-minute pieces ensures that some degree of stylistic contrast will be present.