2. Love Conquers Everything
4. Solo for Voice 51
5. The Unharmed Harp
7. Ivory Ghosts
9. New Variations
10. Selfish Soundtrack
11. A Mythical Story
12. The Desolate Delay
13. Since the Dawn of Time
cd/download on Zoharum, February 2017
Assemblage is a collection of short film soundtracks, and pieces that appeared on compilation albums and out-of-print CD-Rs.
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Assemblage is released as Machinefabriek rather than under Zuydervelt’s own name, and collects various ‘eccentrics’ previously available on compilations or out-of-print CDRs. ‘Eccentrics’ turns out to be a name for the eclectic electroacoustic Machinefabriek experiments we all know and love, with a few boundary-pushing surprises thrown in for good measure. ‘Nerf’ sets the tone with its deliciously crunchy, creaky, and brittle sounds, tentatively poised on the edge of becoming. Explorations of acoustic instruments are well represented: ‘The Harmed Harp’ extracts all manner of tones, rattles, buzzes, creaks, and gongs from the titular instrument, producing endless tiny variations in pitch and timbre; ‘Ivory Ghosts’ features echoing pings that would seem to bear no relation to the piano, reverberation tails sweeping in circuits around a circular space, accompanied by metallic thumps and plucked strings.
My two favourite ‘eccentrics’ both took me by surprise. ‘Sluimer’ is mostly just acoustic guitar, played ‘straight’ with great restraint and precision; with its calm plucked chords, arpeggios, and harmonics, I could well imagine it in the repertoire of a certain Señor Cristián Alvear. But Zuydervelt once again saves his best for last: a recitation, in a hilariously antiquated British accent, of various short words intended to demonstrate the pronunciation of vowels and dipthongs, the voice doubled and split between left and right channels, bouncing from one to the other and sometimes speaking over the top of each other. All backed by the most gorgeous electric piano noodlings. The format of Assemblage suggests a ‘b-sides and rareties’-type package, but don’t be fooled: this is Machinefabriek at his creative, inventive, and, yes, eccentric best.
For the review of 'Assemblage', Machinefabriek's fifth album on Zoharum, I went back to the fourth one for the same label, 'Dubbeltjes', reviewed in Vital Weekly 925, which said: "here at Vital Weekly a lot of music released by Machinefabriek is discussed, but there is a lot more than doesn't make it here, as Machinefabriek is also very active in the field of highly limited vinyl, lathe cut records and cassette only releases. Luckily he is well known enough to have every now and then a compilation of these rarities, such as 'Dubbeltjes' ('dimes'). Here we have two pieces from compilations plus two 7"s, a lathe cut 5", a cassette and a 3"CDR, twelve pieces in total." From there on the review discussed various pieces on the release. 'Assemblage' is a similar collection of oddities, recorded between 2010 and 2016 and unlike the previous, which was forty-eight minutes, this new one is much longer, clocking in at seventy minutes. If I would be lazy, which I usually am, I could copy some more lines of that previous review and change some of the titles around, as many of the pieces on this release see Rutger Zuydervelt exploring the boundaries of ambient guitar sound meeting with musique concrete; sometimes quite separate from each other, but more and more inside the space of a single piece, which is where his work is now heading to more and more (say for instance his recent 'Crumble' release). Die hard fans probably have most of these in their original released form, completists want this anyway; all the others who are interested could see this a peek into the current development of Machinefabriek. So it is a must for all.
Rather than the proper new release from Machinefabriek, this is the second part of "Dubbeltjes" and it's another collection of tracks dispersed during the the period of 2010-2016. The core of this release is the "Nerf" EP, the tracks for the book "Things That A Mutant Needs To Know" by Reinaldo Laddaga which collected short text and short tunes from various authors, and three soundtracks of whom two for a short movie and one for a video installation; the other tracks are from other compilations.
The guitar of "Nerf" opens this release introducing the listener into a quiet environment where all sounds are placed with precision. "Love Conquers Everything" is a crescendo based on drones. While it starting with a drone and the the saxophone of Colin Webser, "WinterWende" evolves using noises with a sense of cinematic description. "Solo for Voice 51" is an interpretation of a score by John Cage where the voice is used as an instrument rather than as a way to convey words. "The Harmed Harp" seems constructed upon this instruments's sound exploring his metallic timbres. Upon a soundscape, a voice spell colors in the first part of "Kleurenrivier" and is shut by the rising of a noisy drone only to return after his end. "Ivory Ghosts" is based on notes played using pizzicato underlying their resonances. Similar techniques are used also in "Sluimer" where the guitar notes are drowned in an almost complete silence, so all notes are in a dialectic relation with their release while in "News Variations" it's noise that is used in a relationship with silence. "Selfish Soundtrack" is a short miniature for noises while "A Mythical Story" uses the sustain of a bell as a landscape for small noises to evolve. "The Desolate Delay" is a minimalist track for quiet drones while "Since the Dawn of Time" seems developed upon extended techniques applied to wind instruments and field recordings. "Meltdown" is an abrasive track for noises and "Vowls" closes this release with the return of words spoken as in "Kleurenrivier".
While it's a compilation, the playlist creates a sense of coherence which makes this release less dispersive than expected. For fans of Rutger Zuydervelt's project this a release not to miss and probably it's enjoyable even for all fans of experimental music.
Here’s the sound diary of a prolific Dutch experimental musician Rutger Zuydervelt. Even if you’re a fan, it would be difficult to get all the original releases, so it’s good to have all these pieces in one place. By the way, I would like to meet Machinefabriek’s admirer who’s got everything Rutger has ever released. Is there any?
Obviously, there’s not much of a style coherency here, but the good thing is that with all his inclinations towards analogue generated experimentations, Rutger never forgets about a certain cinematic feeling. Couldn’t be otherwise, as he often creates music for illustrative purposes for various theatrical performances, movies, museum exhibitions and installations. So you get some experiments, often improvised, sometimes even with the echoes of musique concrete, but it is always covered by the ambient vibes, so it doesn’t distract you from the main point of interest – a movie, an exhibition, etc. But, even if they are not destined to be complementary to other forms of art, but are made as a stand-alone musical compositions, they barely absorb your whole attention. In many parts it is sort of relaxing music, I guess. Hardly complex, often based on one or two sound sources and breathing with a certain warmth. Me, I feel comforted when I hear them. Like “Sluimer”, the longest track – ascetic to the limit, yet peaceful and soothing.
But since it’s a compilation gathering the songs from various occasions between 2010-2016, other atmospheres are able to creep here and there as well, also the more sinister ones, like “Meltdown”. They never drag me out of my comfort zone though and finally I came to a conclusion that even though it is Rutger’s audio scrapbook, it may be a good introduction to the project for the people not familiar with it. I just warn you, if you’ll like his music here, there’s really a lot of exploring ahead for you.