1. Unkrüd (Ill weeds)
2. Tsjustere leaten (Sombre shoots)
3. Sangerjende wyn (Lilting wind)
4. Utsakke bui
5. Wurch ljocht (Tired light)
6. Ferware (Worn down)
cd and lp on Experimedia, November (lp) / December (cd) 2010
On their second full-length, experimental supergroup Piiptsjilling set out to both deepen and roughen up the pastoral and peaceful sound of their 2008 debut release. A coherent unit formed by guitar & poetry duo Jan and Romke Kleefstra as well as Machinefabriek's Rutger Zuydervelt and Soccer Committee's Mariska Baars, the band delineate increasingly dark lyrical textures resonating with nocturnal atmospheres and tactile sound-operations on guitar, pedals and various looping devices. Building on patient and immersive improvisations and working with both sonorous drones and ghostly micronoises, 'Wurdskrieme' moves at a dream-pace, substituting linear logic with a brushwood of metaphors and emotional abstractions. The underlying feeling of a subcutaneous tension is further accentuated by Jan Kleefstra's expressionist poetry delivered in the language of his native Friesland, a province in the far North of the Netherlands. Contrasting serene soundscapes like opener "Unkrud" with more tranquil moments featuring acoustic instrumentation ("Wurch"), the result spans up a sonic space that not only represents an evolution from their earlier work, but also takes them far beyond traditional categories and conventions.
The cd costs 12 euro including worldwide postage
The lp version costs 8 euro excluding postage
The Silent Ballet
Frisian poetry and guitar drones may seem like something of an unlikely pair, which is all the more proof that Piiptsjilling deserve the praise they're getting. Jan Kleefstra's recitations are augmented by the sculpted sound, and our ignorance of the words' meaning somehow makes us listen that much more closely. It doesn't hurt that one of the three players manipulating guitars and electronics is Rutger Zuydervelt, better known as Machinefabriek, a true master of affective noise. The ensemble have benefited from the experience of playing live together, and their reception to one another is apparent in the sophistication of the drones, which build a perfect backdrop against Kleefstra's vocals. To be precise, this is vocal music, but the contemplation of sound it demands situates it in a very different tradition, one of poetry. A tradition of poetry honors poetry as being constructed of the word; its building blocks are raw sound.
Frisian is a language spoken in the northern Netherlands, and is part of a family of Germanic languages closely related to English. Because of this fact, Kleefstra's poetry sounds familiar despite its unintelligibility. I can't help but think of Sigur Ros, not because of any real stylistic similarity, but rather because most of the people receiving this music won't be able to discern the content of the poetry. And so the aspect of the spoken poetry takes on a preservationist/archival significance, but what's more is that the listener's attention is going to hear the words as sounds, and not be distracted by potential meaning. The album art also helpfully shows the poems written out, which adds to the sense of structure without meaning. Destroyer's 'Archer on the Beach', a collaboration in which Tim Hecker created the music over which Dan Bejar sings his poetry/lyrics, is an apt comparison, although Bejar's vocals are more melodic, and Hecker's waves of noise more structured. Piiptsjilling is as incredibly effective at creating freeflowing, organic improvisations (that are less conventionally musical) as they are at creating an affective state.
Wurdskrieme ("Cry of Words") will soon be joined by a sister-record, Molkedrippen, to be released on the Spekk label early next year. Both records were pieced together from a two-and-a-half-hour improvisation recorded in March of 2010. The result is a surprising amalgam of the best elements of improvisation and studio composition. The poetry, Kleefstra's recognizably human voice, one embodying an ancient tradition no lessâ€”creates a structure that bounds the waves of drone: fragile and spindly, yet still familiar. Machinefabriek's mixing, and no doubt Taylor Deupree's mastering as well, contribute greatly to the record's overall feel and shape. However, the rapport between the players makes the album most noteworthy. Kleefstra's brother Romke contributes guitars and effects, and I don't think it'd be a stretch to say that the familiar bond contributes to the overall tension and sophistication of the relationship between the music and the vocals. Mariska Baars rounds out the group with her guitar and vocals.
Machinefabriek has proven himself to be a powerful creative force, but like a Dutch Merzbow, the sheer volume of his releases acts as a sort of commodity noise, augmenting his audible production with a symbolic noise. With so many albums to sort through, it is difficult if not impossible to have a sense of Machinefabriek. Piiptsjilling actually benefits from adopting this name and leaving Machinefabriek aside, because this project deserves to be considered on its own merits. Jan Kleefstra's poetry grounds the record in essential ways, but the three "noise creating" members, each combining guitar drones, as well as effects, electronics, and vocals, have developed a unique and organic sense of improvisation. Each track produces an affect corresponding to the words, communicating in sound what cannot be understood in language.
The three guitars are played as vibrating frequency generators instead of "normal" style in the phallic rock tradition, which makes sense in context. The album progresses through various moods and styles, though in all cases the album demands close listening. Wurdskrieme is not an ambient record that can be played in the background, but instead demands the listener's full attention. Its tone evolves from foreboding, to soothing, to melancholic, to downright disconcerting. An instrumental track begins side B in such a way that the final two tracks hit the high point of the album. Overall, the album is a coherent whole, and one can only expect that Mokledrippen will just as rewarding.
Whisperin and hollerin
'Supergroups' always bother me. At worst, they suggest a bunch of egos battling it out to produce a work that's almost invariably short of the sum of the parts - unless, of course, it's a 'supergroup' consisting of talentless people who make lousy music to begin with, when crap squared is all one could ever expect. Then there's the fact there are supergroups who perhaps aren't nearly as super as they purport, namely those where I haven't heard of a single one of the members. I mean, how's that super? Should I feel embarrassed by the fact I'm entirely unaware of the works of poetry duo Jan and Romke Kleefstra? Should I hide my head in shame over my ignorance of Mariska Baars and Rutger Zuydervelt of Soccer Committee and Machinefabriek respectively? Or should I simply accept the fact that I can't be familiar with all artists of all persuasions, and draw the conclusion that the avant-garde music of The Netherlands tends not to get much exposure outside, well, The Netherlands?
On the strength of this release, it's rather a shame such music reaches our shores so rarely. To describe 'Wurdskrieme' without using the words 'sparse' and 'minimal' would be almost an impossibility. 'Wurdskrieme' is quiet and disquieting, the sonic equivalent of a polar tundra in winter. The six tracks bleed together, connected by slow, low drones, clicks and crackles to forge a panoramic soundscape that's cold and glacial.
From the very outset, the listener feels very alone, lost in a bleak wilderness with only their own thoughts and paranoia for company. At first it's refreshing, exhilarating even, to experience, but eventually, the light fades and you know you're completely alone... or are you? The mind plays tricks and you start o get jumpy. This is precisely the sensation 'Wurdskrieme' ('Cry of Words') instils in the listener.
'Utsakke bui' introduces conventional 'rock' instrumentation into the mix, in the form of electric guitars, but they're hardly played in a conventional rock way, with scrapes and strums - at times resembling tuning up - occasionally cutting across a long, undulating loop of sustain and feedback, like Sunn O))) in a mellow mood. Harmonic chimes provide some warmth on 'Sangerjende wyn' (which translates as 'Lilting Wind'), and here, as elsewhere, snippets of narrative fade in and out, low in the mix.
Rather than lending the sound pieces (they're certainly not songs in any obvious sense of the word), the vocal elements only further accentuate the feelings of isolation and separation that this album radiates. Even when spoken softly, the delivery is clipped and offers little by way of human warmth or comfort. The titles - either in their original language or in translation - are similarly bereft of cheer: Unkrud (Ill Weeds); Tsjustere leaten (Sombre Shoots); Wurch ljocht (Tired Light); Ferware (Worn down). Allusions to nature, but as an unforgiving force and in a state of decay. The transition from Autumn to Winter as the days grow shorter and colder echoes around the desolate soundscapes. Wrap up well and explore the panoramic wasteland of 'Wurdskrieme.' 9/10
Wat een immense pracht! Kan niet anders zeggen, Piiptsjilling deel 2 (de eerste nog 'gewoon' uitgebracht onder de naam Machinefabriek & Jan Kleefstra) is waanzinnig mooie drone/ambient, donker en somber, met ruwe randjes en spannend gekraak en gepiep. De extra plus komt dan van de bijna nihilistisch klinkende voordracht van dichter Jan Kleefstra in het voor Limburgers vervreemdend klinkende Fries. Een van de hoogtepunten van 2010.
2010 has been longing for an album that could bring forth intensity without subjecting itself to the power of volume; something that could present a statement while on the precipice of inaudibility rather than having the concept blare from a decaying speaker system. This hunger has been fulfilled by Netherlands quartet Piiptsjilling, whose sophomore effort Wurdskrieme will, at the very least, satisfy an analytical listener.
What Piiptsjilling provide, as well as what sets them apart from contemporaries, is Wurdskrieme's sense of scenery. The scarce, faint whirs and the distending feedback create a cold aura shrouded in room ambiance. To counter the sustained template are trembling guitar phrases, unintelligible samples, and the impalpable textures of noise that follow these additions within every piece. Wurdskrieme showcases a breathtaking separation between gentle and harsh elements.
To further intensify the music is Jan Kleefstra's metaphorical poetry, which is delivered in his native Frisian dialect. Kleefstra's voice isdelicately pronounced and set at the forefront, not only to serve as an intimate contrast to the cavernous atmosphere of the music, but primarily to draw attention to what is told. The context of the poetry depicts the imagery that the music elicits: 'Tired Light''s airy, floating guitar tones are narrated by a portrayal of being as light as a voice. Kleefstra's phrasing is given vaguely, though fully suits the wandering pace of Wurdskrieme's theme.
The title, Wurdskrieme, in English means 'Cry of Words', and while Kleefstra may not deliver in the most emotional manner, the sounds that accompany him are what accentuate each word. Ominous flourishes coupled with expressionist storytelling give Wurdskrieme a powerful effect yet to be seen in modern music. Whether it's a nuance within the music or a reinterpretation of the lyrics' imagery, any parsing given will result in a reward.
Happily the mainstream independent labels now seem to be recognising this interesting new cross fertilisation between poetry and music and releases are starting to appear. Piiptsjilling are a quartet from the Netherlands consisting of the brothers Jan and Romke Kleefstra, Mariska Baars (who plays solo as Soccer Committee) and Rutger Zuydervelt (better known as Machinefabriek). Wurdskrieme (meaning "Cry of Words") is their second album and was recorded in March 2010 during an improvised recording session.
The music is distinctly electro-acoustic with Romke Kleefstra and Mariska Baars playing effects laden guitar and Jan Kleefstra performing the poetry readings while Rutger processes and layers the sounds to create a rich mix of shifting drones, textures and deftly mixed electronic noises. On the opening track, Unkrud, Mariska provides vocal tones that blend with the backing drones while Jan's Frisian poetry lends an almost melancholic feel that fits perfectly with the gently pulsing drones, interspersed with electronic static and glitch sounds.
The other tracks on the album follow a similar pattern with the short poetry readings generally joining the mix about half way through as if Jan is biding his time to let the music develop to a point where he feels immersed enough to let the words flow into the soundscape that swells around him. The whole concept works brilliantly and although the live recording has been subsequentluy edited and mixed you still feel as though you are listening to a live performance. I hope more artists collaborate in this way and that we get to hear the product of their creative inspiration via the independant labels. This is an exciting new vein to be mined in the ambient and experimental genres and we have barely scratched the surface yet.
Wurdskrieme is the second full length album from experimental supergroup Piiptsjilling, which comprises of Rutger Zuydervelt Mariska Baars and Jan and Romke Kleefstra. Building on their well received 2008 debut release, the quartet have returned with a work even more dense and complex. Though the poetry expressed in Wurdskrieme is spoken in Frisian, a language predominantly found in the north of the Netherlands, the words have a rhythm and timbre which is pleasing to the ear and flatters the beautiful music, at times lending a sombre gravity. In addition to providing the text of the poems in Frisian, there are Dutch and English translations included with the album's packaging.
Opening number Unkrud (Ill Weeds) plunges the listener headfirst into an atmosphere thick with ambience. As anticipated when listening to such an impressive ensemble of musicians, each refrain is executed with an effortless precision. Accompanying female harmonies precede the spoken word, which complements the music and seems almost middle eastern in style at times and there is an intangible otherworldliness which is difficult to articulate with mere words.
The successive tracks continue in an abstract nature. Ferware (Worn Down) is a standout piece, a perfect example of the high level of cohesion which the quartet manage. Effortless minimal guitar is joined by simple harmonics and poignant spoken word. The quieter swells and subtle notes buried lower in the mix catch the listener's ear. The track takes a slightly sinister tone and moves forward with a higher pace, spoken word carried forwards by melodic distorted guitar harmonics.
With its untypical approach to experimental ambient music, Wurdskrieme is a beautiful release which offers something a little different and perhaps a positive of not being able to comprehend the language is that the listener is free to interpret the timbre of the voice into whatever lies in one's own imagination.
Wurdskrieme is one of two new releases from Piiptsjilling, a quartet that is formed of Jan and Romke Kleefstra, Mariska Baars and Rutger Zuydervelt. The name Piiptsjilling (pronounced 'peep-chilling') is Frisian; a language which Jan Kleefstra uses for the poetry he reads to accompany the improvised sonic worlds that the remaining three members create with guitars, effects, loopers and the voice.
In March 2010 the band took to an intensive 2-day improvised recording session with the goal of creating nothing more than beautiful, challenging music. The session resulted in two-and-a-half hours of material which was mixed and edited into two separate albums. Did they succeed with their simple goal? Yes. Yes they did.
Piiptsjilling's first album, self-titled and released in 2008, was a fairly post-rock induced affair with weeping guitars and suppressed desperation by the bucket-load. This time around, the post-rock influence has disappeared and the guitars, at times, are used as a percussion instrument in a prepared- style Ã la Keith Rowe on tracks such as the graciously atmospheric Sangerjende wyn and Utsakke bui.
As Wurdskrieme unfolds, one thing that is noticeable is that the poetry seamlessly becomes one with the atmospheres created by the band. Becoming part of the soundscape rather than clumsily resting on top. At times in their debut the voice seemed to act as a controlling factor, regulating the sound and almost giving it permission to start, stop and evolve. No doubt an interesting discovery; but this could all too easily pull the listener out of their sound induced coma.
The album is full-to-the-brim with the usual electroacoustic ambient loveliness; guitars, drones, the voice, field recordings, blips and glitches help to create an album with somewhat of a bi-polar disease; sometimes thickly laden and sometimes sparsely scattered with tiny sounds. It really is a feast for the ears that doesn't do much wrong in its near on 40 minute run time.
Even though this is essentially an improvised body of work, except for the mixing of course, it really doesn't sound so. Every movement really does seem carefully orchestrated from start to finish. Wurch ljocht is a good example; as the track fills with layer upon layer of sound everything ceases in the final seconds to allow a three-note cadence to shine through. Of course something like this could oh-so-easily be done in the mixing stage, but it's nice to think that there was at least a glimmer of planned performance behind this improvisational body of work.
Ferware is the album highlight and shows the band at their most in-sync on the record. The track rolls along serenely, and what starts as a beautiful thing soon sinks into ominous nightmare territory where Jan's poetry awaits to lull the listener into a vulnerable state of wonder.
Piiptsjilling have managed to create a wonderfully coherent album with Wurdskrieme that no doubt manages to hold the listener's attention for the duration, something that their debut struggled with slightly at certain points. They've also successfully created an improvisation set that sounds orchestrated; it truly sounds as if each performer listened intently to what the others were creating which oftentimes is the downfall of most improvisation troops.
Winterse geluiden. Dat lijkt dan over krakende sneeuw te gaan. Over het ruisen van de wind door de kale takken van de bomen. Over het geruisloos vallen van een sneeuwvlok op de punt van je schoen. Maar ook over Piiptsjilling, het Nederlandse collectief onder leiding van Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) en Mariska Baars (Soccer Committee). Ze doen een 'Friese' wind waaien over de met sneeuw bedekte lang uitgestrekte velden.
Op de tweede langspeler van dit collectief weten de Nederlanders hun geluid intenser en attractiever te maken. Terwijl Jan Kleefstra zich voornamelijk bezighield met het bijeensprokkelen van Friese poëzie concentreerde broer Romke zich samen met Mariska en Rutger op de gitaar en het spelen met effecten, elektronica en stemgeluid. Het resultaat is een krakende loebas van een plaat die zich voortsleept als een dode hond aan een leiband. Maar dan op een goede manier.
Het zwerige tempo dat heel 'Wurdskrieme' lang wordt aangehouden zorgt voor een haast transcendente geluidservaring. Het doet je de omgeving, en het feit dat je er deel van uitmaakt al helemaal, vergeten. Het perfect uitgebalanceerde gebruik van gitaar en stem geeft de ervaring enkel nog meer glans.
Opvallend is ook het grote contrast tussen de stukken op de plaat. Zo is het zwaarmoedige 'Utstakke bui' het zwart, terwijl het kabbelende waterloopje in 'Wurch ljocht (tired light)' het wit blijkt te zijn. Alles lijkt zich in je onderbewustzijn af te spelen en zo de touwtjes van je ledematen te hebben overgenomen. Met een vreemde ervaring die tot diep onder je huid kruipt als gevolg. Het fluisteren van Jan Kleefstra verdeelt kippenvel over je lichaam en plaveit de baan voor lang uitgesponnen gitaarstukken en ingenieus ingeplante elektronica. Alsof een goddelijke tram over je gezicht dendert.
Avondlijk kuieren door overvolle steden of ochtendlijke wandelingen door bossen en velden, 'Wurdskrieme' lijkt er de ideale soundtrack voor. Een herbronnende ervaring waar zelfs de wellnesscentra van Spa niet aan kunnen tippen. Het is je ticketje heen en terug naar onthaasting. Allemaal dankzij de talentvolle Nederlanders. We mogen ze dankbaar zijn.
This quartet, with Romke Kleefstra, Rutger Zuydervelt and Mariska Baars on guitars and Jan Kleefstra delivering poetry in the Frysk language (which to us Dutch is like from another country) seems like an odd thing to bring to stages in Tokyo. Friesland, a part of The Netherlands, has their own language and even here it sounds strange. I couldn't say what Kleefstra's poetry is about (although I could guess sometimes), but 'moody' is certainly a word that springs to mind. Thank god the cover provides translations in English. You should not think of Piiptsjilling as a continuos reading of poetry, but its 'merely' an instrument that is used every now and then. The way the voice is used recalls the same wide open space as the surroundings in which these words were written and which is used in the music also. Drone like guitar patterns, dreamy wide open guitar music, depicting not a dessert. Its not a road movie. The music is more about green fields up to the horizon, with a lighthouse at the end. The land of Kleefstra I'd say. In the opening 'Unkrüd (Ill Weeds)', Baars (whom we also know as Soccer Committee) adds her voice. A great follow-up to the debut (see Vital Weekly 627), with perhaps not a lot of changes, but with the same expanded textured music. I really wonder what they make of this in Japan.
Friesland is het nieuwe Finland. Al zal de band die Piiptsjilling met Friesland heeft wellicht beperkt blijven tot Jan Kleefstra, die zijn poëtische teksten uit de Friese taal put. Verder telt Piiptsjilling goed volk als Romke Kleefstra, Rudger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) en Mariska Baars (Soccercommittee) in de rangen. Een geoefend luisteraar weet dat drones en minimalisme met een dergelijk gezelschap in goede handen zijn. Kleefstra's stem, die de sonore stukken begeleidt, doet dienst als rode draad.
Getooid met welluidende Friese titels als 'Sangerjende Wyn', 'Tsjustere Leaten' of 'Utsakke Bui' trekken zes muzikale landschappen traag voorbij. Klanken worden gelanceerd, geluiden vinden elkaar en gaan nieuwe verbindingen aan, zowel in prille simpliciteit als in minutieus opgebouwde geluidslagen, zoals op het afsluitende 'Ferware'. De organische aanpak zorgt voor een gevoel van eenvoud maar als er één woord is dat Wurdskrieme karakteriseert, dan is het zonder twijfel subtiliteit.
Piipsjiling kan zich met Wurdskrieme, de eerste release die onder deze bandnaam uitgebracht wordt, meten met het betere drone- en ambientwerk dat heden ten dage geproduceerd wordt. En tijdens opener 'Unkrüd' duikt de vergelijking met Julian Cope's bijdrage op Sunn O)))'s 'White1' op.
We will be the first to admit being skeptical of records comprised of ambient tones and poetry, but the Piiptsjilling collective has produced a beguiling and beautiful record that never forces the issue either through the spoken word or through the contemplative, cinematic abstractions they produce. One of the principle soft-noise makers in Piiptsjilling (which we've been instructed to pronounce as 'peep-chilling') is Rutger Zuydervelt better known as Machinefabriek. Alongside him, the ensemble is fleshed out by Jan Kleefstra, Romke Kleefstra, and Mariska Baars, but for all of the members in Piiptsjilling, the quartet is to be noted for their restraint. Quiet loops from the various guitars slowly build over the course of each extended track, with elegant, emotionally pregnant phrases of half-melody / half-shadow worthy of a Stars Of The Lid track messed against the minimalist tension of those early Main recordings and dappled with the scrabbled guitar work that Blixa Bargeld managed on the understated Neubauten record Fuenf Auf Der Nach Oben Offenen Richterskala. The poems come by way of Jan Kleefstra, who quietly utters everything in Frisian, an obscure language spoken in the northern corner of the Netherlands, and his voice is just a hair above a whisper. So even if we could understand Frisian, the soft-spoken nature of his delivery further pushes the words as faint, ghost-like utterances. The Machinefabriek aesthetic can certainly be felt in Piipstjilling, although the compositions he helped build here are far more serene and spacious than anything he's produced before. Fans of Machinefabriek should definitely take note of this! That also goes for those keen on Oren Ambarchi and Celer.