Bas van Huizen‘s ‘single word poetry’ combined with his otherworldly absurdism * ‘Classic’ atmospheric ambient by Wouter Veldhuis.
2016 has been a relatively quiet year for the Kleefstra Brothers – nucleus of many different projects of ambient improv and Frisian poetry.
Until recently when suddenly three albums by Kleefstra / Bakker / Kleefstra were released almost simultaneously, as well as theTsjinlûd multimedia project celebrating the Frisian culture in words, pictures, drawings and music.
“300 Square Miles of Upwards” is released in a stunning package (designed by Rutger ‘Machinefabriek’ Zuydervelt): a bright blue vinyl 12″ album that also comes with an (extended) digital download version including a video version of the opener track ‘Gardening As Astonomy’.
The Dwindlers are a duo consisting of Michelle Seaman, poet, and Benjamin Dauer, composer and multi-instrumentalist. Although they have been working together since 2002, “Allegories” is their second album, following up their 2010 debut release “Dreams”.
“Deislieper” is the third release in what I like to call the “Kleefstra Wire Trilogy“.
In fact, there’s no real ‘trilogy’, but three separate albums that were presented by three independent labels on one single advertising page in Wire Magazine: “Wurdskrieme” (on Experimedia). “Tongerswel” (on Home Normal), and now “Deislieper” (on Hibernate).
“Deislieper”, by the way, is a Frisian name for the nightjar and literally it means ‘day sleeper’
Rooted firmly in the improv scene, core members Jan (poetry) and Romke (guitar, effects) Kleefstra never work alone.
With Piiiptsjilling, most of the contributors were Dutch fellow musicians (like Rutger ‘Machinefabriek’ Zuydervelt, Mariska Baars, Chris Bakker), but soon they also started playing with an international cast of musicians like Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Greg Haines (on the Seeljocht project).
Tongerswel presented their work together with saxophonist Gareth Davis, and now Deisleeper features the incredible percussion music by Sytze Pruiksma.
However deep and fascinating ‘classic’ (drone) ambient music may be, listening too much of the same kind can get a little eh… same-ish. The borders and boundaries need to be stretched in some ways, and that’s where the adventurous music tends to start. Even though, by strict definition, this may or may not be called ‘ambient’ music at all (such as with a lot of the post-classical or improvised acoustic music lately).
I don’t really know, but this may very well have been one of the reasons for Leonardo Rosado, also known as the curator of the Feedbackloop label (with its impressive catalogue of ambient/experimental music), to start a new label with a somewhat different concept: Heart and Soul.
Heart and Soul will focus on combining poetry and music, and will release albums in physical formats only (so NO downloads!): a paperback book combined with the CD in this particular case.
Editions are “totally homemade” – but unlike many others not ‘strictly limited’, because they are made on demand.
The very first release on this Feedbackloop sister label is Rosado’s own “Mute Words“
In this “shortlist” section, I will mention some of the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for.
Still, I think they deserve your attention (use the links to find more info and hear previews).
Martin Lukanov & Mytrip – Two
With strict timings (10’01”, 0’10”, 1’00” etc. ) and titles that indicate timings and position of each (ml-s mt-e, mt-l ml-r), Martin Lukanov (classically trained pianist and sound artist) and Mytrip (“negative dark ambient/drone project from the not so developed Bulgarian ambient scene”) present “a minimalist walk beyond and within the boundaries of drone ambient, accompanied by a gentle and melancholic piano on the verge between isolation and loneliness.”
Leonardo Rosado – Opague Glitter
After publishing 1.5 hour of music as “the Opaque Glitter Sessions”, Leonardo Rosado (who is also the curator of the FeedbackLoop label) asked his listeners to vote for their favorite 8 songs from this collection, thus compiling FeedbackLoop Label’s first ‘official’ CDr. As an extra, the release also includes a photograph with a poem of choice: 8 photos and 8 poems = 64 unique combinations!
On the debut release in 2008, Piiptsjilling was the name of the album performed by Machinefabriek & Jan Kleefstra, together with Romke Kleefstra and Mariska Baars.
Following this remarkable debut, the original contributors have kept working together and performing in as well as outside Holland – to growing critical acclaim.
Now, Piiptsjilling is used as the name of the band.
One might think this kind of spoken word music, spoken in the Frisian language (Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands) would be of local interest only.
Luckily, the opposite prove to be true: the message of their music came across widely outside Friesland too.
The new Piiptsjilling album, called “Wurdskrieme” (Cry of Words) is now released on Experimedia.net.
Compared to the original Piiptsjilling album, it’s a quite different view of the same concept.
If you’re a collector that likes to have your music on a physical CD, times are rapidly getting harder. Especially in the ambient and experimental genre, where more and more releases are handmade do-it-yourself releases in extremely limited editions.
Take Wixel’s 2009 project, for instance: one CD every month, every edition physically released in the number of days of that particular month (but at least these are later rereleased in simpler packaging and available as digital downloads too). Even a relatively ‘big name’ like Thomas Köner releases his latest CD ‘La Barca‘ in a limited edition of 600 copies only.
By the time the news of a new release reaches you, chances are the album is sold out and unavailable physically.
Such is the case with Wink, the new album by Kleefstra / Bakker / Kleefstra.
Although I thought I acted quickly, my handpainted CD (!) and handpainted cover bears the number 90 – of only 100! So I guess it’s sold out the moment you read this…
So what’s the use of this blogpost then?
‘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.