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Spiral Staircase / Mock Interiors

To be honest I had never heard the name of Esther Venrooy until recently, when I was struck by a track on a compilation CD ‘Avontuurlijke Muziek in Brabant’ (‘Adventurous music from Brabant’, a freebie with a recent Gonzo Magazine). This fragment from her CD ‘The Spiral Staircase’ (released on Entr’Acte) definitely proved checking out in full.

‘The Spiral Staircase’ is not really ‘ambient’. ‘Electronic sound art’ is a much better definition. Unlike a lot of contemporary electronic music ‘The Spiral Staircase’ feels like it has a heart and a soul – it’s not just ‘calculated’ electronics.  This may be due to Esther’s background as a saxophone player, or her Cinematic approach, or the fact that she creates music for stage performances.
Or maybe even simply (?) because she is a woman (which is quite unusual in this musical field – but maybe I should not start any discussion on this matter).

As a follow up to ‘The Spiral Staircase’, Entr’Acte recently released a new album: “Mock Interiors“, which finds Esther Venrooij collaborating with pianist Heleen van Haegenborgh. Heleen (who also lives and works in Gent, Belgium) is specialised in contemporary experimental music; her biography boasts extensive performing works of impressive names like Morton Feldman, Alvin Lucier and George Crumb.

If quality would be measured by the number of times I hit the ‘repeat’ button on my players, “The Spiral Staircase” and “Mock Interiors” would be among the best discoveries this year.

It saddens me to think that so little people may find this music, and that Esther and Heleen may be known only to a very small belgian and dutch audience. They deserve a much wider recognition than that. But hey, if The Wire found out about their music, why don’t you? Be sure to check out BOTH audio samples below (and in the audio player!)

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A Drift on the Signal

I don’t know if you have noticed the links to various weblogs on the “Links” page, but if you did, you have probably found the Low Light Mixes, and treasure them like I do. All mixes are worth the download, but the latest one, A Drift on the Signal, is especially rewarding.

It’s an ambient mix that was inspired by the Conet Project, a source of shortwave recording that’ll excite anyone who’s into global conspiracy theories (check the liner notes for this mix), and by the recordings that can be found on Myke Weiskopf’s SHORTWAVEMUSIC weblog.

The noise and interference of these shortwave recordings (the kind of samples Holger Czukay used to apply in his music) are fascinating. It feels like sounds drifting in from another time and galaxy. Somehow, the ambient tunes and drones mix perfectly with the imperfect, glitchy  recordings from beyond faraway borders. And the spooky paranoia of the ‘numbers’ stations that are claimed to broadcast covert intelligence messages only enhances to this listening experience!
Download this mix if you can, and don’t forget to encourage Dave to create and share more!

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