COEN OSCAR POLACK – HAARLEMMERHOUT
The cover image is intensely romantic and depicts the kind of surroundings everyone would love to be part of. It is a picture of an actual park: the Haarlemmerhout in Haarlem – the oldest public parc in the Netherlands.
The park is (relatively) famous because it is mentioned extensively in the (1839) book Camera Obscura by Nicolaas Beets – an important part of (Dutch) romantic literature.
This also explains the album’s track titles, which for the most part refer to Nicolas Beets’ book – apart from आवारा (Hindi for Awaari, meaning drifter). Translating them is almost impossible and devaluates their impact, but here are some examples: Een diepnoodlottig neergelaten wenkbrauw (A deeply-fatal lowered eyebrow, according to Google Translate, but I doubt that is a correct translation). De son schijnt by den dag, de kaarsen by den avond, en de maan by nacht (The sun shines at daytime, the candles in the evening and the moon by night). And even some poetic descriptions Google Translate can’t really handle: “Als boombladeren wegstootende generaties in het bestaan des menschdoms” (Generations like tree leaves pushing into the existence of humanity. OK, what exactly?)
The sound of this album is as romantic as the Haarlemmerhout park itself. If you’re in need of a breath of fresh air you can simply listen to this album: it may be as healthy as the real thing (or maybe even better).
Coen Oscar Polack extensively used sound recordings for this particular environment: ‘pigs from the petting zoo and birds traveling northwards from Africa to their homes in the north. […] swirling streams […] a squeaky fence […] (he) gets really close to everything in the park and pulls you into the fiber.’
But this is nót just an environmental recording: within a few minutes musical elements are introduced that are unrelated to the original sound sources. The combination creates an alienated atmosphere that is as comforting as well as it is uncanny (‘unheimisch’).
“It’s a thin line between reality and synthesis” – which is exactly what is so very fascinating about this album.
You don’t need to be familiar with the Haarlemmerhout park to enjoy this (although it will probably help). Every reminiscence of every park you visited will probably transport you to almost forgotten realms.
But be prepared for an additional layer of -sometimes rather uncanny – atmospheres.
GUYBRUSH – SOMETHING EXTREMELY LIGHT
From Turin, Italy, comes Francesco Ameglio, working as Guybrush. A sound engineer for interactive media (especially video games), who has studied at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague, Netherlands.
His “sonic research is based on sonic failures, incorrect compositional choices and how sound can be used as a radical tool to explore the capitalistic structure of our society.”
I personally find it a bit difficult to relate the sounds on Something Extremely Light to the ‘capitalistic structure of our society’ (except perhaps when I realize how hard it is for artists to earn enough income to pay for their living).
And, on second thought, I don’t hear many sonic failures or incorrect compositional choices either,: this is quite an enjoyable album – even if it is not as ‘light’ as the title suggests. However: with only 18 minutes of music, it ís rather light in regards of playing time.
Something Extremely Light came to life in a period when Ameglio had to move to Madrid because of a new job and was a bit lost without his family and beloved.
“I felt extremely lonely, even though I never experienced this loneliness as negative nor positive. It was more like a limbo where things were suspended and gently offered me a new way to interpret what was happening around me. I’ve tried to translate this feeling into music, using textures as still frames of my daily life in the city.[…]’Something Extremely Light’ became a way to explain to myself what it means to be living away from your so-called home, and what really matters at the end of the day, spent in a place that doesn’t belong to you.”
The (limited: edition of 50) physical cassette release contains some photos that Ameglio made during his stay in Madrid.