Movements of Dust
Music by Rutger Zuydervelt and Bill Seaman
Rotterdam/Durham, February–June 2019
Mastered by Jos Smolders at EARLabs
Cover image by BS, graphic design by RZ
I had been listening to a few different albums and collaborations that Rutger had been involved with. I decided to write him and see if he might want to collaborate. I was happy and excited when he said he was interested.
In every collaboration one needs to find a working methodology – and this slowly surfaced. With exactitude and play we built some beautiful pieces using very different methodologies and programs. The album formed more and more --- many times going through a large series of iterations, sometimes moving very far away from where we started on an individual work. I would sometimes make very complex mixes and then Rutger would cut away things, finding the most salient sections and layers… simplifying and clarifying.
We worked on individual finished tracks and later Rutger composed a long format mix which was quite exciting… Eventually we just had a series of numbers. I had just done an album with sentence length titles. We went for the inversion of that. Very short, four letter word titles. We arrived at Movements of Dust for the album title, after thinking about many different possibilities. We were excited that Oscarson from Germany decided to release it on Vinyl! As per the cover image design I have been doing a series of abstractions. Rutger did the actual final graphic design. We arrived at the idea of perfectly spaced font… All in all the collaboration worked quite well from my perspective!
I had heard a few albums, and was very impressed by Bill’s music - it’s very intricate and refined. It might sound strange, but because of hearing this beautiful music, I felt that I wouldn’t want to touch that, and that if we worked together, we should aim for something different. We decided to go for something more rough sounding and, rhythm based. Compared to some of our other music, this might even be called our pop album ;-
The making process for Movements of Dust was a blast. Most tracks would start by Bill sending me a library of percussive and melodic sounds, each in the same bpm. I guess my signature move was to fuck up these perfectly synced parts. To make it less perfect, more organic. Add a wobble to the rhythm, or break up the beat by stripping things down. I’d send the track to Bill, who’d react by adding sounds, or re-editing the piece. A song would go back and forth a few times, until we’d both be sure that it sounded finished.
I’ll admit that in the beginning I was slow. Didn’t excactly know how to aproach this. But as soon as the first track started to take form, it dictated the way the project could progress. From there on, it all made sense, and working on the album felt like the most natural thing to do - even if it’s was our first time working together.
Bill Seaman contacted Rutger Zuydervelt after hearing some of his albums to see if he was interested in a collaboration. And Rutger was, of course, because he was equally impressed by Seaman‘s music.
They sent their ideas back and forth, building “some beautiful pieces using very different methodologies and programs – many times going through a large series of iterations, sometimes moving very far away from where we started on an individual work.”
Together, they had to find out a working methodology, to overcome the hesitation of touching the other’s music. “We decided to go for something more rough sounding and, rhythm-based. Compared to some of
our other music, this might even be called our pop album.” Which shouldn’t be taken too literal of course: you won’t hear any of these tracks on pop-oriented radio stations.
The process of creation often calls for deconstruction, as Zuydervelt explains: “most tracks would start by Bill sending me a library of percussive and melodic sounds, each in the same bpm. I guess my signature move was to fuck up these perfectly synced parts. To make it less perfect, more organic. Add a wobble to the rhythm, or break up the beat by stripping things down. I’d send the track to Bill, who’d react by adding sounds or re-editing the piece. A song would go back and forth a few times until we’d both be sure that it sounded finished.”
The resulting music is a sort of ‘quantum glitch ambient’ – a combination of sounds that seem to come from another dimension. It’s impossible to hear who did what exactly – Seaman and Zuydervelt managed to create their own unique sound, where 1+1 is more than 2.
I don't know much about Bill Seaman, other than his work with K. Leimer (Vital Weekly 994) and a solo double release by Eilean Records (Vital Weekly 1087). As far as I know, the piano is his main instrument, although I wouldn't know how duties were divided on this release as the piano is present in various pieces, but also lots of other stuff. From Zuydervelt I realized I have no longer a clue what he would consider his primary instrument. Once it was the guitar but these days he also uses electronics, radios, software synthesizers, or maybe even modular ones. From his work in the computer game industry I know he also works with rhythm. All of that can be found on this LP with Bill Seaman. I assume this is one of those 'exchange by mail' music collaborations
and it leaves me in the dark as to who did what. Not just instrument wise but also about final mixing and how many different steps were made to get to the eleven results on this album. It is a joy to hear as the record pleasantly leaps in all sorts of directions. One would expect some fine, delicate ambient music, lots of space and lots of elegant piano work and whilst that too is part of the album, there is so much more happening here. There are songs with rhythms and distorted guitars ('Walk'), desolated rhythms against the black night sky ('Pull'), grainy textures on multiple tracks and all of these songs are within the time-frame of a classic pop song; somewhere between three and five minutes (yes, I am aware the real hits of the moment are more within the timespan of the average teenager, so a minute and a half). As said, the delicate ambient texture is not forgotten here ('Bits') and the dust mentioned in the title is something we find on various pieces; that extra layer of hiss to add space. This is an excellent record.