Two recent-ish releases from Rutger Zuydervelt that, although don’t quite achieve the heights of his majestic hook-up with Dutch jazz-grinders Dead Neanderthals, DNMF or the gritty textures of Sneeuwstorm, are nevertheless creditable additions to his increasingly voluminous discography.
Deining takes recordings from violinist Anne Bakker and transmutes them into a 25-minute unspooling of astringent, woody drones. Zuydervelt’s brief to Bakker was to bow each string for five minutes, while sliding from the highest to the lowest note. He then layered the recordings, and overdubbed parallel sine tones as well as odds and ends of static and additional viola. The result is something akin to minimalist counterpoint, the rising and falling tones like lines on a graph, moving in opposite directions and only occasionally intersecting. The piece has a curious slow motion effect, a perpetual falling, as if in a frozen dream – remember Christopher Nolan’s Inception? – even when those long bowed tones are rising. Of course, focusing on each string in turn gives the recording plenty of dynamic range, with the production helping to make those transitions seamless. Some of the later, higher-pitched sections are particularly effective, with the keening whines at around 16:50 channelling the massed clusters of Ligeti’s Atmospheres. It’s good, immerse stuff, nicely textural and packing a dissonant wallop.
MIR, meanwhile, packages up three solo performances in a domed, solar-powered stage of the same name, recorded during a festival in Arnhem, Netherlands, in May of last year, with a soundcheck and minute of additional stuff thrown in for good measure. Released as a pay-what-you-like download, it’s meditative and well worth checking out, combining extremely minimal electroacoustic growls with thicker slices of ambient melody. Performance 1 is somewhat careful at first, with the scuffs and grit of Zuydervelt’s electroacoustic kit, shuffles and scrapes of the small audience (seated on metal chairs around the small domed structure) adding a slightly random air to his precise investigations. There’s a lovely swell of synthy vocalese wafting in at around nine minutes to complement some textural motor-on-metal whines. Performance 2 is at first colder fish, with stick-along-the-railings clangs offering a discordant beginning, before a drum kick that’s more like a rubber flipper slaps us round the chops and distant synths brings things back to room temperature, lapping round our sore brains like a liquid rug. Finally, Performance 3 is digs deep into the dronespace, excising all gravity from proceedings with an airless, weightless moment of being, its slow amniotic undulations the only indication that we might be drifting in the ocean’s depths rather than stranded in the cold, dark void.