Subterraneanact & Machinefabriek
6. Persistent Object
11. And Beyong
cd/download on Opa Loka Records, February 2016
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Bass-clarinet and electronics player Henk Bakker (a.k.a. Subterraneanact) is a mainstay in the Rotterdam improv scene, and co-runs the famous Worm studio. Knob twiddler Rutger Zuydervelt (a.k.a. Machinefabriek) is mainly known for being ridiculously prolific. For a gig at Worm, organizer Lukas Simonis came up with the idea to pair Henk and Rutger for a live performance, their first as a duo. They happily accepted the challenge, but not without planning a improv session to rehearse. With Henk on bass clarinet and live manipulation, and Rutger using his analogue tone generator, contact mics, tapes and effects, the two hit it off like a pressure-cooker. Without wasting time to discuss any plans, they simply communicated through their unrestrained, boisterous sounds. In the two hours they spend together, 90 minute of music was recorded. After some editing, the album ‘Persistent Objects’ took shape, and is now released on CD by Opa Loka Records.
I really enjoy listening to non-exactly-influenced improvisation when it sounds emaciated, contaminated and honest. Such is the case of Persistent Objects, the result of a 90-minute meeting between Henk Bakker’s processed bass clarinet and the inauspicious intemperance caused by Rutger Zuydervelt’s manifold apparatuses. The music’s highest virtue is represented by its uncomplimentary circumspection; no sound appears undesired, even the most subsidiary. The lyrical side of Bakker’s phrasing interacts with phantom blasphemies emanated by Zuydervelt’s tapes, originating abstract configurations smudged by analogue detritus. Fluttering acoustic substances double and triple themselves inside decayed sanctuaries whose space is delineated by flanging echoes and disorienting drones. The overall sonority is perceived as threatening and sympathetic at one and the same time, each constituent properly anarchic yet respectful of a sometimes vivacious, sometimes barely breathing wholeness. A record that will nourish your cells with the right doses of sweet toxins.
The name Subterraneanact perhaps doesn't ring any immediate bells, not even when you remember their self-titled CD, reviewed in Vital Weekly 828. Back thenSubterraneanact was a duo of Henk Bakker on clarinet and Jelmer Cnossen on drums andableton live, but these days it seems to be Bakker solo, with the same instruments as before. He studied at the Conservatory of Utrecht and was, along with Lukas Simonis, one half of Static Tics. Here he teams up with Rutger Zuydervelt, also know as Machinefabriek and they both live and work in Rotterdam. The only work I heard from Subterraneanact was quite noisy but on this new release Bakker plays he bass clarinet with great subtle beauty, even when it still owns to the world of improvised music. Maybe Zuydervelt picks up the sound of clarinet and (re-) works that into the overall music, adding sounds from objects he also uses. Even when the cover says 'edited and mixed by Henk Bakker' the overall tone is more like Machinefabriek and perhaps a bit less Subterraneanact (but as said, as far as I know this group/project based on one release). The eleven pieces here range from quite short, less than a minute to over eight minutes, and is best enjoyed as a work that is heardas one long piece, without paying attention to the individual pieces and the whole thing becomes a collage of bass clarinet sounds, finely woven drones and occasional acoustic object abuse. Sometimes loopedaround, but most of the time in 'real' time, with carefully constructed atmospheric music. In the bigger picture of Machinefabriek, who has been working with lots of instrument players, this is another most welcome addition. A fine, sturdy work.