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Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra (x3) * Tsjinlûd


2016 has been a relatively quiet year for the Kleefstra Brothers Jan and Romke, the nucleus of many different projects involving ambient improv music and Frisian poetry. Until the end of the year, at least, when several releases appeared within one month. Followed shortly after that with their latest CD: Dize.
The four  releases were not meant to be released so close to each other but due to unforseen release schedule changes they did.
So – you can now start binging…

Dage    Desimber   Dize


Two of the new releases are cassette (and digital download) releases with Anne Chris Bakkerknown from previous collaborations but also for his great solo albums Tussenlicht and Reminiscences. 

Dage, released on the Low-Point label, is the trio’s sixth collaborative release. It presents four tracks, including Widzjende Treast which some of you may recognise from last year’s Ambientblog Anniversary collection (it was this track that gave the anniversary mix its title).

Theirs is a familiar recipe by now: the track take their time to slowly build up from a quiet drone, accompanying Jan Kleefstra’s recitals in the Frisian language of the northern Dutch, a language only to be understood by the Frysians. Dreamlike, yet inevitably building up to a climax – an “ever-morphing musical backdrop, created by nothing more than the inventive use of bowed, looped and processed electric guitars”.

The two tracks on Desimber – another cassette release, this time released by Tombed Visions Records – have the same trance-inducing atmosphere. But with 36 and 26 minutes respectively, they take even more time to develop. The two tracks were recorded on a short tour in December 2015 (hence the name), and are a showcase of what a Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra may sound like. ‘May’, because they are always spontaneous improvisations and thus will sound different every time.

The physical (cassette) edition is housed in a remarkable, though also impractical to store double-sized case. The Tombed Vision Records site only offers the cassette release (including the download of course), but if you’re not a cassette type person the Kleefstra Bros Bandcamp page also offers a download-only version.

The third title of this  Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra trilogy is Dize (which translates to ‘Mist’), released as a CD by Midira Records.
Its content is simply summarized with the description “Frysian spoken words coated by a massive floating soundwall, made by two guitars.”

You probably don’t need more description than that, especially if you’re already familiar with their work or have listened to the two releases previously described.
There ís a small difference, however: the atmosphere is slightly darker than usual. Especially in the opening track De Holle As Asem and the album closer Moannegat – with its loud feedback climax.
They give this album a slightly more abrasive feel than usual. But apart from these moments, the album is as atmospheric (and misty) as ever.

Dize presents four tracks: two of them around the 8 minute mark, the other two even more unhurried with 12 and 14 minutes respectively.
This time, Jan Kleefstra‘s poems are printed on the CD-cover including the english translations.

Also on Spotify



Though the project unmistakably bears the characteristics of a Kleefstra-involved project, the history of the Tsjinlûd release is somewhat different, and has taken a long time to come to life.
It’s a CD presented in a hardcover book (or a book including a CD), featuring works by a collective of Frisian artists. The book contains poems, pictures, paintings and photographs in addition to the music and spoken poetry on the CD. But it’s not ‘just’ a lyric book: the poetry included in the book only partly overlaps that on the CD.

The Tsjinlûd collective project started in 2006, and has evolved into an impro- and soundcollective, combining soundscapes with poetry, spoken word and film. One of its resulting projects is the ongoing Klanklânskippen (‘Sound Landscapes’).

This self-released book includes poetry by Jan Kleefstra, Elmar Kuiper, Grytsje Schaaf, Remco Kuiper, photo’s by Romke Kleefstra, Anne-Chris Bakker, and pictures by Elmar Kuiper and Christiaan Kuitwaard. They all also contribute to the tracks on the CD, which were recorded early 2015. Compared to the KBK releases mentioned above, these tracks are somewhat more experimental, a bit more rough and unpolished.

The project is an uncompromising celebration of the Frisian culture: there are neither translations of the poems nor of the liner notes.
Those that don’t understand it, can only guess about the meaning of the words – though for those speaking Dutch it may help a bit to read the lyrics out loud to understand some fragments.

I can’t help but wonder if it is satisfying for the poets who wrote this to know that most listeners will not understand what they are talking about… I assume they prefer their words to be understood.
But on the other hand: nót understanding their words somehow adds to the magic of this music: its message still comes across.

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The Volume Settings Folder – Ivan Hoe and Other Tales

Ivan Hoe

From the very first minutes of Ivan Hoe and Other Tales“, you will realise that this is not gonna be like one of your average atmospheric drone albums.

Starting with a spoken voice recording, taken from old tape cassettes for English summer homeworks” and telling tales about the ancient Saxons from Sherwood Forest, the album shifts into “a journey into an almost cold, dark and ‘aseptic’ forest, ending with a come-back to a warm home”.

Atmospheric it is, sure enough. But even more, Ivan Hoe and Other Tales is a weird sonic trip, unravelling some of the tales that were kept secret by the old oaks of Sherwood Forest…

The tales about Ivan Hoe (main character of Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel about 12th-century England) are English in every detail, so it may come as a surprise that The Volume Settings Folder is, in fact, a project by Italian guitarist M. Beckmann. 
Adding ‘guitarist’ to his name may be somewhat superfluous, because the guitar fragments on this album are hard to recognize in the wealth of other collected and manipulated sounds.
Beckmann ignores any existing convention in combining field recording to sound effects, distorted rhythms, hiss and crackles – and presents them glued together as one organic collage. 

At the end of the second track, the tale about Ivan Hoe is once again told, telling about Ivan Hoe’s love for Lady Rowena, and how he must’ve been knight of King Richard (‘perhaps the bravest’ ). But for the rest of the album the other tales are left up to your own imagination.

It may be because, as a child, I was a dedicated follower of the Ivanhoe TV series. Or the fact that I visited Sherwood Forest (also the home of Robin Hood, of course) last summer and have watched the enigmatig thousand years old oaks dying.
But I think it’s mainly the wide array of dreamlike sounds that make this album so very fascinating.
It’s simply hard to imagine what exactly you are listening to! 

In style with the original source of inspiration, this album is released as a cassette edition in various package collections. Apart from the cassettes, there’s also a choice of CD-R’s in various editions – and recently the digital (unlimited) edition also became available.
Enough to choose here (but note the physical editions are extremely limited)


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Enrico Coniglio+Under the Snow – Dialogue One

Dialogue One

I first learned about Enrico Coniglio on the Underwater Noisescompilation and from there found his fascinating Salicornie (Topofonie Vol. 2)”, dedicated to the city of Venice.

Compared to “Salicornie”, this latest release, Dialogue One”  is quite different: one hour of abstract soundscapes and mutually attracting opposites.

“Dialogue One” is a ‘split’ project with Silentes label artists Under the Snow (Stefano Gentile (guitar, field recordings) and Gianluca Favaron (field recordings, processing)).

Although there is no ‘dialogue’ between the artists in the tracks itself – the first four tracks are  performed by Enrico Coniglio, while the last, performed by Under the Snow, takes up the other half of the album – “Dialogue” is a title well chosen. All tracks show a caleidoscopic display of sounds that seem to be quite different but merge very well.
It’s a dialogue between harsh and soft sounds, hi-fi and lo-fi, sawtooth and sinus, shouting an whispering, comforting and frightening. But, different as they are, all parts adds up to a fascinatingly coherent universe of electronic sounds.

Enrico Coniglio – Kingdom of Her

Coniglio - I

Another Coniglio release (also on Silentes) is part of a cassette series called Collezione Del Silenzio: 26 audiocassettes (one for every letter in the alphabet) containing “Free Interpretations of Silent Sounds”.
For this series, Coniglio takes care of the letter “I” with two tracks, resp. 16:43 and 18:52 in length.
Backed with the familiar analogue hiss of the cassette tape, Coniglio slowly unfolds his drones. In this almost industrial hiss, it is hard to distinct his sound from the carrier’s distortion. There’s a lot of clicks and short eruptions, as if the tapes catches environmental radiation in sound. It’s a fascinating array of sounds, always changing, always moving on.

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Kyle Bobby Dunn – Pour Les Octaves

pour les octaves

Personally, I’m not particular fond of analog storage media. In fact I’m glad we could leave these behind us and go digital.

But since digital music seems to be available anytime, anyplace and anywhere, there’s a counter-trend of releasing music in a storage format that can not be easily copied – and thus appeals to collectors especially. 
Part of me can understand that when I hold an oldfashioned vinyl album cover, but I cannot really understand why anyone would prefer to release his music on audiocassette only. 
Still, there are quite some cassettelabels releasing music nowadays. 

One of these is Peasant Magik, that recently released a 30 minute (C30) two track casette by Kyle Bobby Dunn, called Pour les Octaves.

Pour les Octaves presents two beautiful drone music pieces that would’ve perfectly fitted on Dunn’s earlier releaseA Young Person’s Guide to…” .

The first track is called “PSR Music for J. Schull” . When asked about this title, Kyle explains that “PSR is a funny old keyboard – J. Schull is a girl I met in the woods one night”.
Listening to this track, that must’ve been a very inspiring encounter!
“Remnants” , the slightly shorter second track, explores similar keyboard sounds. It evokes a beautiful atmosphere of slowly fading memories, ending with a dramatically ringing, sustained chord over a background of strings.

Both tracks gain depth by the sounds in the background, audible ‘behind’ the main keyboard themes. These hissing sounds may be hardly heard against the natural hiss that is added by the analog cassette tape – but they are definitely playing their part.

With “Pour les Octaves, Kyle Bobby Dunn once more adds beautiful music to his already impressive oeuvre.

But this particular title may be a bit harder to obtain, because it is released in a strict collector’s edition that is nót available as a download elsewhere. So if you want to hear it, you’ll have to re-connect your old cassette-player!
I wonder what will happen to this music once the limited edition of 100 cassettes runs out.

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