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René Aquarius * Atom TM




Norwegian artist Ajla R. Steinvåg‘s inspiration comes from ‘the process of metal partical accumulation in the human body’, which ‘can drive cells to activate inflammatory pathways, programmed cell death and subsequent encapsulation of dead tissue’.
René Aquarius 
also has a medical background: he is a medical scientist ‘with a focus on bone and blood vessel pathology’. But of course for us he is primarily known as the drummer of Dead Neanderthals (who were recently featured here because of their surprising Life album), and for his collaboration with Rutger Zuydervelt.
Their shared interests has culminated in a multimedia installation in eindhoven in September 2018 – so now only the soundtrack remains for us to enjoy.

Transmutation presents two tracks (the title tracks and Flesh Sarcophagus) – immersive deep and dark drones that move slowly, illustrating the medical process described above. Dark and as scary as it is beautiful. Aquarius is a drummer and from the sound of it I guess that these sounds are mainly creating using his cymbals and low drums, of course post-processed with a lot of effects yet still recognisable.

Unfortunately there are no impressions online of the installation in Eindhoven, and Steinvag‘s site has not yet been updated. But looking at images of his earlier work while listening to this dark soundscapes I assume it must have been an impressive event. (If anyone has been there please tell about it).
What is left now is the soundscape: a dark and alienating journey, slowly moving like the thick blood in your veins. Make no mistake: this is definitely a recommendation!


Texturen III


I don’t think I need to go in detail (again) about Uwe Schmidt‘s countless aliases and incredibly versatile musical output ranging from ecstatic cumbia to deep minimalism. I don’t know how he does it but Uwe Schmidt seems to have a musical Midas’ touch…

As Atom™, one of his ongoing series is Texturen (Textures) – long-form (50+ minutes) drone pieces that focus on microscopic details of sound. Texturen III ‘picks up where he left off with Texturen II‘, and simply starts as if a machine is turned on.
But from there, quite a lot is happening. Details float in and disappear again, the overall context remains constant but within that everything constantly changes and floats.
It ‘weaves and winds through landscapes of the mind that touch on all points of an emotional spectrum from caustic to convivial – Designed to inhabit the infinite space of your mind’. 

Each part can of course be enjoyed separately, but the project may take on massive proportions if the collection is listened to as one single journey.  It’s unclear how many editions this series is gonna get in the future, but I assume Schmidt will simply add a new edition when he feels the time is right. But when he decides it is finished, I really hope it will be released as a box-set (or maybe even a continuous digital or Blu-Ray edition).
From his website I learn that a live performance of Texturen can take on virtually any length – it took 4 hours at Berghain on New Year’s Day 2018! So obviously there’s more to come… I expect at least 8 hours so a full Texturen series can accompany you during a good night’s sleep.

But for now, just simply engage in the first three parts!

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Aquarius + Zuydervelt * Presidiomodelo

Glass Palace

Glass Palace


When you’re familiar with the surprising Dead Neanderthals release Life from april this year, ánd know the two artists have always been closely related, this collaboration of Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘  Zuydervelt and René Aquarius will hardly surprise you. The duo does not spend much words explaining this album: they just refer to it as their ‘third collaboration in 2018’ (after The Red Soul and Smelter).

Glass Palace feels like a logical step after Life: a 34 minute drone piece that hardly seems to change on a first listen but where a lot of things are going on actually.

It feels as a recording of processes inside a cyborg-like life form that is slowly retreating from activity.
Or like watching a fascinating organic activity through a microscope at first, but gradually increasing the viewing distance.
Or earthly observations starting from a clear viewpoint but then retreating, like an astronaut watching Earthly struggles, putting all irrelevant global worries into a cosmic perspective.
With increasing distance, details become unimportant.

Or… ????
Oh well, just forget these desperate descriptions. While I’m writing this I realise that it is impossible to describe a sound like this with words.
I understand now why Zuydervelt and Aquarius did not even try to describe the sound of their Glass Palace: don’t over think it, just go with the experience.



I had never heard about the Siberian trio Presidiomodelo until this release, and was surprised to find out that they released a split cassette release with Machinefabriek earlier this year on Tandem Tapes.
The Inner Empire is also released on tape, with a 15 minute part of the soundscape on each side. Of course there’s a digital download option, too.

With related concepts like the Shaman (‘priest of the devil’), permafrost, Soviet labour camps  and other worlds (to which the Shaman has access) the context of this soundscape is rather dark.
“Misty atmospheres infused with a murky, industrial aesthetic – a meditation on themes of self confinement and interior exile.”

“Rumbling synths oscillate amongst delicate beds of chimes whilst ghostly chants and guttural tones vibrate around the sound of handmade instruments and hypnotic drums.”

The original music for this set was composed for theatre, so the different sections merge into each other like changing scenes. A soundscape full of suspense and inescapability, like a compelling horror movie.

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