Mariska Baars, Robert Deters, Rutger Zuydervelt
1. Gris Gris 1 (excerpt)
2. Gris Gris 2
3. Gris Gris 3
cd on Low Point records, January 2009
recorded August 2008
Recorded late summer 2008 and named after Robert's cat, this release is amongst my most minimal. Slow, dark, droning music, using Mariska's (soccer Committee) voice as source material, and adding field recordings and small electronics.
But available digitally, here
'Gris Gris' is a collaborative release between Dutch musicians Mariska Baars (who also writes and performs as soccer Committee) Robert Deters (of Vance Orchestra) and Rutger Zuydervelt (also known as the highly prolific Machinefabriek).
The material for 'Gris Gris' (named after Robert's cat and also the term for a Voodoo amulet that protects the wearer from evil or brings luck) was recorded during a single day in late August 2008. The session consisted of using Mariska's voice as source material with Robert and Rutger adding further processing, field recordings and electronics.
Whereas previous collaborations between Machinefabriek and soccer Committee used processing principally to supplement the minimal framework of
Mariska's songs, here her voice is used to generate a whole spectrum of different pitches and timbres. At times the source material is almost unrecognisable, transformed and buried under layers of manipulation, whilst at other moments slithers of untreated tones appear as if they're part of some vaporous radio broadcast. The end result is some of the three artists most minimal, slow and eerie music to date.
Using vocal as source material, this is a record of spiral staircase drone, movements of minimalism in terms of volume/dynamics but there's certainly plenty of movement. 'Gris Gris's slow pace is reminiscent of foggy atmospheres, the inscrutability of being lost at sea or figures gone astray in a smoke shrouded village. The haunt of shaky electric echoes suggests places and structures, it's like someone's gone and close-miced up the boat from Slint's 'Good Morning Captain'. The final piece slips into a little more of a structure, dipping into loops of a sun bleached industrial grind with a faint static rattle. 'Gris Gris' is amongst the best that Low Point has had to offer to date and that, in case you were wondering, is a bloody massive compliment. 10/10
This is not the first time that Mariska Baars (also known as Soccer Committee), Robert Deters (previously of Vance Orchestra and also of Deer Listeners) and Machinefabriek's Rutger Zuydervelt meet up. They worked together in various incarnations and they also performed live, and I saw this once, and I have good memories about it. Now that I hear 'Gris Gris', it all comes back. Starting point here is the voice of Mariska Baars. Unlike her own work she doesn't sing songs but produces some unwordly sounds, which is being picked up by the machines of Deters and Zuydervelt, who process it on the spot, adding more electronics and field recordings. Three pieces, spanning almost forty minutes of some pitched black (or should that be pitch black?) sounds. In part one the voice is the only guiding principle, whereas in part two there are also other sounds to be detected and its more alike the current Machinefabriek sound of slowly enveloping sounds in a slight rhythmic background. Guitars may play some role in part three, but then perhaps not. Here things are that their gloomiest, with deep bass sound and high pitched one on top. Excellent work throughout. Lots of tension and executed with great care. Great release.
Machinefabriek's Rutger Zuydervelt pops up on this rather super new CD on Low Point with his mates Mariska Baars from Soccer Commitee & Robert Deters of Vance Orchestra. It's called 'Gris Gris' and it's tonal waves and morphing low end drone are making my bowels feel a little giggly, my head pleasantly woozy and my glass half full instead of half empty. These waves gradually increase in intensity, washing over the office like a sleepy, swaying android fuzz, with lots of little strange accompanying drones and murmers following the main drag like sad wailing ghost cubs. Then the procession passes, leaving tendrils of spectral creaks and absorbing atmospherics. A lot of this "sound design" is sourced from Mariska's vocals, manipulated to the point of unrecognisability. Is That a word? It blooming well is now, my chick-pups. It sounds like a wonderful headphone album does this, I can imagine sitting on a misty moor at dawn imagining druids emerging slowly from the mist as I drink brandy coffee from a flask and pet my imaginary pet dog, Sheepshagger. Grand stuff in a nice matt card package with uber-minimal art (looks quite "Room 40" if you get my spiel!)
Expert slab of drone 'n' tone out on Low Point - it's at about half way through this, the album's last track, that you realise how just subtly it's ingrained itself in your head, and that you're not quite sure what life's like without this record on (Hint: it's basically the same, but doesn't sound as nice).
Gris Gris is a collaboration between Rutger Zuydervelt and fellow Dutch avant-garde mavens Robert Deters of Vance Orchestra and Soccer Committee's Mariska Baars. The album is divided into three long-form pieces, each loaded with shadowy, subtle texture and a floor-shaking line in sub bass. Apparently, the starting point for each composition was Mariska's voice, though you'd never realise it given the kind of advanced processing that's taken place between those initial phases of recording and the final product. 'Gris Gris 2' probably has the closest run-in with discernibly human sound matter, evoking a kind of slow motion choral effect, interwoven with an already ethereal backdrop of modulating crackle and tide-like bass motions. It's an outstanding, attention-commanding piece of music, moving the record on from the more vaporous exercise, 'Gris Gris 1', which sounds strangely static and inert; prompting you to ask questions like "Is it the central heating making that noise, or does it have something to do with this weird Dutch record I just put on?" 'Gris Gris 3' adds tactile, almost percussive elements into the mix, matching crinkled contact mic-style recordings with electronically treated room hiss and deep-set oscillator pulses. A very minimal, very patient record from the Machinefabriek man and his cohorts, coming across as somehow more elemental and raw than we're used to, but Gris Gris is all the more refreshing as a result.
De volgende cd waarop Rutger acte de presence geeft is Gris Gris, een naam die conceptueel zo aansluit bij ijspret. Hierop werkt hij samen met zoals wel vaker Mariska Baars, ofwel Soccer Committee. Met haar heeft hij onder meer al de prachtige cd's Zeeg en Drawn gemaakt. De derde muzikant waarmee deze twee werken is niemand minder dan Robert Deters van Ã©Ã©n van Nederlands meest oorspronkelijke industriÃ«le avant-garde bands Vance Orchestra. Op papier is de muziek wat mij betreft nu al geslaagd, maar laat ik voor de vorm de schijf toch eens in mijn cd-speler gooien. Hierop blijken 3 zinderende tracks te staan van 16 en tweemaal 10 minuten. De nummers hadden beter gruis gruis kunnen heten, want het is een minimale veredeling van gruizige geluiden geworden. De beide heren verzorgen hierbij de elektronica en Mariska de stem. Die laatste is door de vele bewerkingen moeilijk te herkennen, maar meerdere beluisteringen onthullen naast haar stem en andere organische klanken nog wel meer geluiden die je in eerste instantie niet ontwaart. Het is een mengelmoes van glitch en ambient geworden die diepe indruk maakt. Op intrigerende wijze slepen de drie je mee in een subtiel, maar dwingende draaikolk van diepgaande krakende geluiden die diep tot de verbeelding spreken. Ze prikkelen de grijze cellen op aangename en hypnotiserende wijze. Een prachtig werk om het onderbewustzijn bewust te maken. Past die titel Gris Gris toch ineens weer wel. Om grijs te draaien!
Tremendous first release of 2009 for the excellent Low Point imprint. A collaborative work featuring Machinefabriek, Soccer Committee's Mariska Baars and Vance Orchestra's Robert Deters, it uses sculptural ambience and drone to create a convincingly ominous, yet beautiful three track work. Intense atmospheres slowly build and grow with wonderful layering and careful production and you end up with some seriously magnificent textures. The second track in particular is a real favourite of mine and the soft, shimmering, bassy drone is something of a work of art I have to say. Dissonant elements creep in from time to time and the first piece has a slightly more challenging feel than the other two. But, importantly, this is a real listening album and is one to savour when listening on headphones. Brilliant stuff I have to say.