Wixel’s 2009 Project

clouds cover

Wixel sometimes refers to the small group of musicians surrounding the Belgian artist Wim Maesschalk. When I recently saw them performing at a dutch festival (CrossLinx), I felt they sounded like Sigur Rós but without the vocals. Which is meant as a compliment, because when listening to most of Sigur Rós’s music I always wonder if I would like it better without the odd vocals. 

‘Wixel’ is also used as Wim Maesschalk’s artist nickname.
Wim ‘Wixel’ Maesschalk is a prolific artist, working very hard to find ways to get his music exposed to the world. (not unlike Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘ Zuydervelt, though their musical angles are different).

Slowly, the world starts to find Wixel’s music too.

Mark Tamea – Tessellation

Mark Tamea, an english composer/sound artist living in Nijmegen, Holland, has released some quite adventurous work in the past (of which a lot of information and some free downloads can be found on his website: www.tamea.org).
His latest work, Tessellation, is one of the most intriguing recordings I have heard in the past year.

It combines a lot of different styles: ambient electronic soundscapes, field recordings, musique concrête, post-classical – but still feels organic and complete.

Ambrose Field & John Potter – Being Dufay

Being Dufay

Celebrating their 25th birthday, ECM Records released a recording of the unusual musical combination of saxophone player Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble performing ancient vocal music (‘Officium‘, 1994).
An album so stunning it proved to be one of ECM’s biggest “hits”.
I was lucky enough to attend a live performance of this album in a church in my hometown that year, and amidst all of the concerts I have seen in my life this one especially is one I will never forget.
In 2009, ECM celebrates it’s 40th birthday. Could this be the reason they have searched for a musical combination as unusual and maybe even as unheard as on Officium? Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. But to me, ‘Being Dufay’ has about the same effect ‘Officium’ had.

Hilary Jeffery & Lysn – Katendrecht Spaceport

Katendrecht is a typical area in Rotterdam where you can expect to find a lot of things.
But the last thing to expect to find there is a spaceport where you can take a direct flight to Jupiter.

Still, a small venue called De Player created the exciting opportunity to embark on a spectacular journey to outer (inner) space on march 22, 2008. The journey was guided by Lysn, consisting of Hilary Jeffery (on trombone and tromboscillator), Chris Long (accordion and electronics), and Anne Wellmer (analogue electronics and harmonium).

This evening was presented as part # 3 in a series called Com.Post (‘Prancing around on the post-digital compost heap of contemporary music’).

I wasn’t there, that evening. And hearing the recording of this event that was recently released, that’s something to regret!

Machinefabriek – IJspret & Gris Gris

IJspret 

Some albums, particularly those by major artists, take a few years to complete. The many recordings of Rutger ‘Machinefabriek’  Zuydervelt are not among those.

This particular little gem, IJspret (‘Ice/Skating Fun’) was released within a few weeks after the short period that Holland enjoyed skating on natural ice (last days of december 2008 + some in january 2009). It had been a few years ago since the last time that had been possible, and may take a few years to happen again.

After noticing the strange sounds of ice crackling and the sounds of skates skating, Rutger used a contact microphone to record it. Those  field recordings were combine with some other (ducks, coots, and people playing) and completed with some improvised acoustic guitar sounds.

Arve Henriksen – Cartography

Cartography

Albums released near or in december tend to fall through the cracks of the end-of-year-list frenzy. They are not noticed in the year they are released and will not get through next year’s selection because they are released the year before.
Some of these albums deserve special attention to help them get noticed.
(Especially since a lot of music addicts strongly tend to focus on their peer-group’s lists which – in the end-  makes every one of them buy the same album collection..).

One of these titles is Arve Henriksen’s Cartography.
Trumpet player Arve Henriksen already gained some attention with precious albums on Rune Grammofon (Sakuteiki, Chiaroscuro and Strjon) and as a member of Supersilent (operating on the other side of the musical spectre, where ‘silent’ isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind ).

His latest, Cartography, released on ECM, is an amazing collection of thoughtful sounds. His trumpet playing sounds like Jon Hassell, the overall musical sound sounds like that of Nils Petter Molvaer (who’s trumpet playing, in turn, sounds like Jon Hassell).

Machinefabriek & Soccer Committee – Drawn

Drawn

‘Opposites attract’. That’s quite appropriate when talking about Machinefabriek and Soccer Committee working together.

Their music seems quite incompatible at first: intimate acoustic folk vs. gritty electronics.
But Mariska Baars (Soccer Committee) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) have been playing together more often in the past.

Jacob Kirkegaard – Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis

You can trust Jacob Kirkegaard to come up with fascinating concepts. After recording the sounds of deep earth in Iceland and those of the deserted rooms of Tchernobyl, he now turns inward to record the sound of his own inner ear, using a medical technique used to diagnose hearing problems on young children. The recorded tones of his cochlea were used to create a fascinating installation for the Medical Museion in Copenhagen – which, judging by the photos of it – was visually as attractive as it was aurally.



Banabila – Precious Images

precious images 

The music of Michel Banabila has been on the top of my personal playlist favourites for years (check my last.fm account if you want the details).
Considering the strength of his versatile output, it really is a shame he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves (in terms of sales, that is).
In the past few years, his music has found its way into theatre productions (by well-known Dutch company Orkater, for example) and television documentaries. Some of this work has been compiled earlier on the self-released double-CD ‘Hilarious Expedition‘ and on ‘Traces‘.

Dutch record label Steamin’ Soundworks released a new compilation, fully titled “Precious Images – Datafiles 1999 – 2008“. The two CD’s are hand-picked and remastered by Michel Banabila himself and show an interesting duality in his work.