Orphax & Machinefabriek

1. Spiegeling
2. Weerkaatsing
3. Reflectie

cd/download on Moving Furniture Records, June 2017

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Weerkaatsing is the first collaboration by Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) and Sietse van Erve (Orphax), both active players in the Dutch experimental electronic music field. While their paths did cross many times at concerts either as visitors or as performing artists, never before these prolific musicians got together. And as with so many collaborations also this one has a story behind it:

Reflectie (Orphax)
The idea behind this collaboration started in 2007, when Rutger released his EP Stofstuk and following this the remix album Kruimeldief.
For years since the release I was intrigued by this little piece and the various remixes, and always had the idea of making a remix myself (and actually to start a series of unrequested remixes). Finally in 2016 I took the time to really work on this Stofstuk remix. With some magic and other forms of witchcraft I created the almost 20 minute long drone piece Reflectie, based solely on the Stofstuk piece. I tried to put a real Orphax touch to the work, but without losing the true Machinefabriek sound. As such it really felt for me as if we did a collaboration; and it was screaming for more. So I told Rutger about this and after I sent him the piece the idea came he would also remix one of my works. And from there this collaboration really kicked off...

Spiegeling (Machinefabriek)
The first time I met Sietse was at a gig in Utrecht, probably in 2006 or so, but I’m not sure. Since then, I saw him at so many gigs… one of the regulars of the scene, I’d say. Anyway, in 2007 I invited a load of artists to make a remix of my track ‘Stofstuk’. The results appeared on the album ‘Kruimeldief’, but what was missing was Sietse’s remix. At least, that’s what I found out recently. Apparently he had been ‘secretly’ working on a beautiful 20-minute remake of my track. Damn, it was too nice not to do anything with it, so we decided that I should return the favour and do a remix of an Orphax piece. I choose 'Geluiden van de Eerste Dag’, of his 'Tragedie van een Liedjesschrijver’ album, the piece that resonated the most with me. And the rework was done in no time. Not because I was in a hurry, but because the basic material of the track was so grateful to work with. I added a few looped snippets of violin which I recorded at a rehearsal (for another piece), and these worked perfectly with Sietse’s sounds. ‘One plus one equals three’, I’d say (cliché or not).

Weerkaatsing (Together)
So then we had two remixes. We had already decided to release this somehow, but it didn’t feel complete yet. That’s when ‘Weerkaatsing’, the title track, came to life. The most ‘collaborative collaboration’, and my favourite track of the album. It’s like the table tennis illustration on the cover; we kept bouncing sounds back and forth, until the track was finished. Which, again, didn’t take long. We were clearly on the same wavelength, and together with the other two tracks, I think it’s a really solid drone album.


Vital Weekly

In a small country like The Netherlands there is a small, lively scene of experimental musicians, who bump into each other quite a lot and it is almost inevitable that there will be collaborations. Sietse van Erve, also known as Orphax bumped into Rutger Zuydervelt, alias Machinefabriek, bumped into each other a lot, as players of concerts or visitors to other concerts. Orphax was also interested in 'Stofstuk', an early piece by Machinefabriek (see Vital Weekly 573) that got quite quickly a remix CD to its name (see Vital Weekly 586). Van Erve was not on part of that remix project but over the years worked on a remix of his own and when Rutger found out, he decided to thank by doing a remix of an Orphax piece, 'Geluiden van de Eerste dag' from 'Tragedie Van Een Liedjesschrijver' (see Vital Weekly 899), in a twenty minute piece. To top it off they worked on a joint piece of music, bouncing sound files back and forth and now all three pieces. These three pieces are now to be found on 'Weerkaatsing', which means reflection, just as all three pieces have titles which Dutch synonyms for 'reflection'. Many works by both artists have been reviewed in Vital Weekly, and if you read what was written over the years, you know the words 'drone' and 'ambient' have been used quite a bit. This collaborative is not different and both play what their fans, me included, expect them to do. Where Machinefabriek has the sustaining organ sound Orphax is known, along with the stretching of bell sounds, Orphax uses the violin loops of the original and even allows for some rough cuts. Machinefabriek seems to be at his most minimal in this piece, in awe of Orphax, I'd say, and Orphax returns by showing a more musical side. In their duet piece they go for the more conventional drone approach and it consists of many layers of Orphax' old organs picked up in a space with a microphone adding an excellent space feel to them, and it gets a lovely treatment. This CD has a great cover too, courtesy by Zuydervelt. An excellent release.

Touching Extremes

In the press release Sietse Van Erve (Orphax) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) announce without a shadow of doubt that Weerkaatsing is “a really solid drone album”. I tend to concur, especially considering how easy falling in the quicksands of platitude is in this sphere. Furthermore, there’s more than plain “drones” herein to relish.

As securely as the artists illustrate circumstances and procedures that ultimately gave birth to this work, we set ourselves comfortable in the listener’s chair to identify the denominators that render the experience positively charming. “Spiegeling” begins with an imaginary portrayal of the innate voices of the ionosphere, continues with a succession of dynamic diversifications and electronic undulations, and finally mutates into a compelling stare to the void embellished by seesawing violin lines and intersections of underlying rhythms. The title track originates from an expanded spatial perspective, a two-tone continuance fenced by conspicuous subsonic throbs before the matter is once again subjected to remodeling. All textures settle in the (slightly perturbed) stillness of a sub-lunar minimalist environment; we’re thoroughly delivered from any residual stress. The longest episode is “Reflectie”: from what’s recognized by these ears as the stretched vibration of a cymbal we then get blanketed by a persistent pulsation of (just guessing) Tibetan bowls plus other resounding constituents. The last part sees the return of that variety of humongous low frequencies which will be unconditionally treasured by the certified devotees.

The record grows rather steadily with each spin, and never bores. Radiations informed by technical wisdom, hypnotic substances diffused by musicians in the “active brain” position.


Machinefabriek is de naam waaronder Rutger Zuydervelt muziek uitbrengt. Van Erve en Zuydervelt zijn elkaar in de loop van de jaren vaak tegengekomen, maar tot een samenwerking kwam het tot nu toe niet. Dat het nu wel gebeurt, is het gevolg van het stuk ‘Stofstuk’ van Machinefabriek en de remix-cd Kruimeldief, waarop verschillende bewerkingen van het stuk zijn te horen. Orphax maakte geen deel uit van de muzikanten die Kruimeldief bevolkten, maar hij maakte wel een eigen remix, die Zuydervelt weer ter ore kwam, waarna die besloot een remix van een Orphax-track te doen. Die twee stukken moesten natuurlijk worden uitgebracht en daarop ontstond het idee om samen een derde werk toe te voegen aan de release.

Machinefabriek bewerkt ‘Geluiden Van De Eerste Dag’, te vinden op de Orphax-cd De Tragedie Van Een Liedjesschrijver Zonder Woorden. De remix heet ‘Spiegeling’. Het origineel is een stuk waar naar Orphax-begrippen redelijk veel beweging in zit, al blijft het minimalisme troef. Bij beluistering van beide stukken achter elkaar valt op dat geluiden die je als ‘typisch Zuydervelt’ zou willen interpreteren, juist al aanwezig zijn in het origineel van Van Erve. Waar het origineel een wat ijzige sfeer heeft, weet Machinefabriek juist warmte aan te brengen in het stuk, al blijft de als een gure wind klinkende klank intact. De door Zuydervelt ingebrachte vioolklanken maken het stuk minder abstract en de algehele aanpak is ook minder minimaal dan die van Van Erve.

Orphax neemt op Weerkaatsing dus ‘Stofstuk’ onder handen, nu getiteld ‘Reflectie’. Waar het oorspronkelijke werk slechts vijf en een halve minuut duurt en bestaat uit zachte, mysterieuze elektronische klanken, maakt Orphax daar een stuk van bijna twintig minuten van waarin hij slechts gebruik maakt van de klanken van het origineel maar die zodanig weet te bewerken dat een lange drone ontstaat die alle kenmerken van Orphax bevatten. Dat betekent dus minimale en statische ambient die nauwkeurige beluistering behoeft om veranderingen in het stuk te ontdekken. Hoe Van Erve het doet is Opduvel een raadsel, maar in alle minimalisme weet hij altijd weer spanning te creëren door het aanbrengen van geluidslagen, zodat verveling geen moment toeslaat.

Het titelstuk is het gezamenlijke werk en is zo getiteld omdat Van Erve en Zuydervelt elkaar bij de totstandkoming van het werk hun geluiden als het ware heen en weer kaatsten. Je zou het ook een botsing kunnen noemen tussen de strenge abstractie van Orphax en de meer bewegende muziek van Machinefabriek, ware het niet dat het stuk niet als een botsing klinkt maar als een werk waarin de muzikanten elkaar aanvullen in plaats van bestrijden. Van Erve en Zuydervelt lijken naar elkaar toe te kruipen en daardoor is moeilijk te ontdekken wie verantwoordelijk is voor welke geluiden in het werk. Een drone van elektronica, later van een orgel, staat centraal. Daar omheen cirkelen geluiden die langzaam in cadans bewegen of juist knisperen. Zowel aan de oppervlakte als in de diepte is het stuk steeds in ontwikkeling.

Dit album maakt nog maar eens duidelijk dat de geluidskunst van Rutger Zuydervelt en Sietse van Erve van uitzonderlijke klasse is. Beide muzikanten hebben natuurlijk hun eigen aanpak, maar zodra zich met elkaars werk gaan bemoeien of zelfs samen een stuk creëren, blijkt hoe goed zij elkaar aanvullen. Weerkaatsing is het klinkende resultaat.

The Squid's Ear

At this point, the mighty Machinefabriek (aka Rutger Zuydervelt) is vying with Sun Ra for the biggest catalog award — the Machinefabriek Discogs page currently sits at 180 entries (and that doesn't count the run of releases issued under Zuydervelt's given name), and all this in a career spanning just 13 years. It's fair to say that Zuydervelt is one of experimental music's true renaissance men, crossing a multitude of subgenres (minimalism, noise, ambient, pattern music, drone, post-classical, soundscape) with ease, scattered over every media platform imaginable, be it physical or digital. Often, the many sounds he augurs remain as elusive as the formats they're smeared upon like so much jelly, amorphous yet tactile, immersive and confrontational, bold yet serene. He's an artist of many talents, and, from such a large library of recordings and performances, what is perhaps most remarkable is that few of his works sound alike: the syntax is somewhat recognizable but the vocabulary alters from album to album.

Machinefabriek music is formidable enough on its own, but when thrust into the web of collaboration, the results tend to colorize your listening space with more vibrant results. Weerkaatsing pairs Zuydervelt with Dutch musician Sietse van Erve, who trades under the nom de plume Orphax. Van Erve's body of work is nothing to sniff at, either; he's no novice, and though his own catalog isn't as deep as Zuydervelt's, he's nevertheless worked as diligently and comprehensively over a similar clutch of years. As with the best studio cooperatives, it's impossible to discern who is bringing what to the table, but that unification of ideas and soul posits Weerkaatsing as a high-water mark in both artist's oeuvres. The opening "Spiegeling" is a thing of shimmering beauty, a softly oscillating series of bent pitches and oxygenated aerations, short on evolution but long on communal empathy, seamlessly integrating the finer drops of each contributor's stealthy command of tone and drone. The title track moves in decidedly different environs, where great drafts of spiraling fizz and fuzz achieve horizontal hold that, like an orange afternoon melting into stark evening, shifts almost imperceptibly between an expansive harmonic bandwidth.

Zuydervelt and van Erve triangulate their focused sensibilities expertly on the final piece, "Reflectie". Soft acid rain spills out across a sea of swelling static, until the peaks are leveled off to reveal a trilling burr of low-lying bass pulse; once the duo push the heavier frequencies back in the mix, the gradual appearance of frostier tones begin to respirate until the lower decibel ratios reappear once again. Recalling Eliane Radigue and Christina Kubitsch's similarly queasy forays, there is a rugged majesty at play here, leagues beyond the minimally flaccid, solipsistic compositions of so many other wannabe dronemeisters. A quite fortuitous meeting of minds indeed, built for the future.