1. BECOMING cd version
2. BECOMING live in Bassano (digital only)
cd/download, October 2017
Stream and/or buy at Bandcamp
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In BECOMING, choreographer Iván Pérez shows an ever-changing world, a world in motion. The dancers move with or against the flow, continuously influenced by encounters and experiences. Mesmerising entanglements take you to infinite places that intrigue and reveal. The physical and emotional style of Pérez, accompanied by the electronic music of Rutger Zuydervelt. BECOMING inspires you to reflect on who you are, your relation to others and what we become.
BECOMING is the fourth dance piece by Dutch/Spanish choreographer Iván Pérez to feature an original soundtrack by Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek). After ‘Hide & Seek’, ‘Attention the doors are closing’, and ‘Exhausting Space’, the duo sharpened their collaboration with a new piece by having the music performed live on stage for the first time. The choreography and music were created simultaneously, rehearsing together, and developing a movement and sound ‘vocabulary’ for the piece. The end result is structured, but still leaves a lot of room for improvisation in order to keep a natural flow. Each performance is different, with the musician and the dancers (Wei Yun Chen, Majon van der Schot, and Christopher Tandy) having a real-time dialogue.
The BECOMING album release presents a version of the score which was edited from material recorded during the last rehearsel period for the piece. As a digital bonus (with the cd as well as the download), it includes a 50-minute live recording made at the prèmiere at the Operaestate Festival in Bassano, Italy.
Yeah I Know It Sucks
The music by Machinefabriek is well known, with a world-wide fan base the producer has a whole army of loyal sound lovers as prominent listeners. The pressure that comes with the fame might be up and brewing, but Machinefabriek’s music seems to be unimpressed by it all, giving birth to one amazing album after another. Yet with BECOMING it seemed to go into a whole new level of brainwave stimulating perfection, grabbing its fans as well as the newbies who discover the works of Machinefabriek for the very first time something that sounds utterly outer worldly.
With extreme care in synthesized emotion the Machinefabriek creates a soundscape to escape in, one in which nature and a future of electronics go hand in hand with impressive waves of sound that keeps everyone floating in a wonderful suspense between beauty and emotion. With the ability to fade reality and smuggle its listeners into the wonderful world of Machinefabriek, pretty hypnotic listening adventures are promised and delivered. Melodies that seem to roll in circles of rhythm and synthesized manipulation as tools, Machinefabriek brings the minds into smiley atmospheres in which you feel like you had smoked a big spliff even if you haven’t exactly touched one in your entire life.
Somehow with technology Machinefabriek has captured the pulses and acts of a nature wrapped in a psychedelic movement that you can’t and don’t want to move away from. The chapters within BECOMING seem to come and go, keeping up the pressure and attention abilities to the fullest of amount, creating some kind of blissful movie for the mind to be fully endorsed in. One in which operatic singing gorgeousness goes side by side with blossoming electronica. It made me quietly meditate on these very pretty mellow (and exciting!) sounds of wonder.
Machinefabriek’s fame and glory are now more than ever justified, as with such a wonderful creation attached to this producer’s discography the bar of intriguing trip music is set so high that you would have a difficult job to find anything to top it. Even when BECOMING gets noisier, more nastier and experimental Machinefabriek keeps its head up high, delivering the noises in such a way that even people who normally wouldn’t enjoy any of ‘that’, would now be able to find the joy in hearing such a collage of grittiness. In other words this record can only be shortly described as; sublimely amazing!
When listening to music composed to accompany a dance performance I haven’t seen, I like to imagine the sort of movements that the dancers would perform. Sometimes this is relatively straightforward: when listening to Rutger Zuydervelt’s score for choreographer Iván Pérez’s “Attention, the doors are closing”, for example, it’s easy to visualise the contrast between propulsive, fast-tempo group work and fluid, supple solos. The pair’s latest collaboration, however, strikes me as a more mysterious, elusive affair — a quality arising no doubt in part from the use of live music and improvisation, making each performance different, but perhaps also reflecting a more philosophical enquiry into how the organising of sounds and movements can come to be a discrete thing with cohesion and meaning.
The CD version of “BECOMING” was edited from recordings of final rehearsals and previews, and as a result sounds suitably polished. The opening is quiet, with the gradual introduction of faint glimmers and gleams; twisting, writhing tones cut through the silence, and as the level of distortion slowly rises, big growling tones sweep across the stage. Rhythmic arpeggios climb in pitch, before a hypnotic snake-charmer’s melody fades in against a background of quietly swirling noise. Another climbing melodic ostinato drives a more up-tempo section, getting thicker and dirtier amidst a clatter of buzzes and screeches. A tone frozen in repeat is joined by a low thrumming, building to a peak before fading to leave a quiet drone and what sounds as if it could be faint singing.
The CD is accompanied by a downloadable bonus recording of the piece’s prèmiere at the Operaestate Festival in Bassano, Italy. Many of the same musical elements are present, but arranged substantially differently. This live version is at times fuller and warmer than the CD edit, and at others noisier and dirtier; a howling wind whips around a transposed snake-charmer melody, and laser beams fire in all directions. Several of the more melodic and rhythmically regular ingredients are omitted, conclusively severing the relationship between movement and speed that seems so integral to “Attention”. What emerges instead is something slipperier, more loosely defined, and more fluid in its relationship to meaning and identity, and yet somehow all the more present and affective for it.
Sigil of Brass
Well, where do I start with such a beautiful, chrysalis-like album? I will struggle to put into words the experiential beauty I felt when I listened to this album – but I will try my utmost.
I was contacted by Machinefabriek on the off-chance I would have the time to listen to the release. This album, “Becoming” is the fourth dance piece by Dutch/Spanish choreographer Iván Pérez to feature an original soundtrack by Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek). After ‘Hide & Seek’, ‘Attention The Doors Are Closing’, and ‘Exhausting Space’, Pérez/Zuydervelt sharpened their collaborative skills with a new piece – by having the music performed live on stage for the first time.
The choreography and music were created simultaneously, rehearsing together, and developing a movement and sound ‘vocabulary’ for the piece. The end result is structured, but still leaves a lot of room for improvisation in order to keep a natural flow. Each performance was different, with the musician and the dancers (Wei Yun Chen, Majon van der Schot, and Christopher Tandy) having a real-time dialogue.
“Becoming” is really inspirational stuff and, oh, so achingly beautiful. Whether it is the peal of a Sopranos voice looped, softly, or an oh-so-gentle analogue hum; this is a masterpiece. Now the, I appreciate that the term masterpiece is overused, but – on “Becoming” Zuydervelt leaves us hanging as to his next move – we are unsurely placed between two ‘scenes’ of the music – flowing softly into each other and immersing us like a lover’s first embrace.
The version of the album released here presents a glimpse of the score that was edited from material recorded during the last rehearsal period for the piece. As a digital bonus (with the cd as well as the download), it includes a 46-minute live recording made at the prèmiere at the Operaestate Festival in Bassano, Italy.
… oh, to have seen this performed live. The music alone is of an exceptionally high standard – true artistry.
There are two versions of ‘Becoming’, one is the CD version, which is the ‘official’ version and one is the premiere live version, which lasts about seven minutes longer. This is music for the dance performance by Ivan Perez. The score, so the cover tells me ‘is partly improvised, a real time dialogue between the dancers and the music that’s different in each performance. The version on this CD is edited from recordings made during the final rehearsals’, all in the Netherlands, but the premiere was in Italy and of course not something I saw. So the music comes as it is, without seeing any movements or dancers, and I can merely judge as a piece of music by itself. It contains some of the more well-known Machinefabriek sound textures, for instance in the opening and closing minutes, the sound of sustaining ambient guitar sounds that is, but it contains also a few surprises. Or perhaps the use of dynamics is something we see him do more and more these days and maybe less of a surprise? The other thing is the repeating keyboard-like sounds, little arpeggios’ sparking somewhere in the middle of this, sounding very cosmic, which reminded me of the soundtrack Rutger Zuydervelt, the man-machine, did for a computer game ‘Astroneer’ (see Vital Weekly 1062), and which is something quite new to his work. From the gentle sounds it all works up towards the heavy block of electro-acoustic noise, like the ones I heard on ‘Concrete Scores’ (see Vital Weekly 1094); Machinefabriek uses more and more a wider spectrum of sounds, which gives his music a great variety to use. If you play the live version right after this, you’ll notice the elements that are recurring but also which parts are freely to be filled in. Throughout the live recording is a bit less balanced and seems noisier throughout, having more power, I guess. But if I must be honest I preferred the more balanced version that is on the CD; it is the difference in dynamics and the variety of sounds that did the trick for me.
A quiet rumbling sine emerges, flanked by wisps of white noise.
After a minute or two, the octaves shift downwards fattening the soundscape, partnered by the odd pop and rumble. Low fidelity orchestrations from a table of pedals and tape machines build to become a beautiful suite of what could soundtrack a creepy seance. Analogue basses form foundations on which to build an equally beautiful suite of straining melodies and lo-fi airs.
Tremelo treated mid-tones creep out from this personal brew and it all evolves into one of the most sophisticated pieces in Rutger Zuyderveldt’s massive canon of works. It’s even more impressive to learn this piece soundtracks a live dance show. The download includes a live mix from one of the shows but survives totally on it’s own as an independent composition.
But back to the CD version, settling now into the ten minute mark we’ve had some deceptively loud mid-tones, kind of phantasms really, which pave the way for some ghostly sequencing. I’ve seen the equipment list. I wonder if this derives from the Critter and Guitari ‘Pocket Piano’ – I know Rutger seems to have every desirable pocket sound generator.
Mangled tape loops (similar to Taylor Deupree’s treatments) unravel in the background. Flatter tundra-like passages follow, mildly post-apocalyptic before an overtly hauntological sample drifts in like a 78rpm Hildegard von Bingen clip (it reminds me a little of ‘O Eucari’).
Another Pocket Piano series of bleeps here possibly, which are treated with minor distortions and delays washed in white noise and given, at times, almost a post-acidic 303 rendering to create a memorable trance-like sequence. Alan Lamb-like contact recordings arrive causing a storm with feedback that never loses it’s sense of discipline and moderation. It’s loud and distorted but it’s controlled and well mixed. This is a very impressive section of the near 40 minute long track.
Is this the best Machinefabriek release yet? It’s certainly massively accomplished by this point. Those contact recordings have broken loose and now kink, bend and spasm at the forefront of the mix. There’s detail in the distortions too before they abruptly burn out leaving behind a kind of tinnitus howl in the background.
Out of a lull builds a feedback loop and the a solo female voice we heard earlier comes back again. This reminds me a little of the Polish sound artist Jacaszek’s Piesni album of orthodox Christian hymns from Eastern Europe. This territory is a welcome surprise from Machinefabriek and showcases a growing mature trajectory of sound design over the last decade.
We are in a slow pedal-organ collapse at this stage – we feel like we are forever fading out and the voice flits in and around the organ to dissipate completely.
A sensitive and very accomplished release.
One of the things that excited people about ambient music in its early days was its unique tendency to absorb whatever other sounds the listener’s environment had to offer. This remains a big part of its appeal.
Occasionally though, ambient works are produced that have the capacity to monopolize our attention. Rotterdam-based Rutger Zuydervelt (a.k.a. Machinefabriek) released an album in October that fits that description exactly. It will not complement your surroundings so much as disconnect you from them.
BECOMING is a soundtrack to a dance piece of the same name by Dutch/Spanish choreographer Iván Pérez. It is number four in a series of soundtracks that Zuydervelt has written for him. The others are Hide & Seek, Attention the doors are closing and Exhausting Space.
The partners worked in tandem. Pérez choreographed at the same time Zuydervelt composed. They’d test ideas together in rehearsal, ultimately producing a 45- to 50-minute piece that left room for improvisation at each performance.
No two presentations are ever the same, as this album illustrates. We get the original CD version along with a 46-minute live performance recorded at the work’s premier during Bassano, Italy’s Operaestate Festival.
Both recordings are breath-taking. BECOMING starts as a drone work and then evolves into some of the most arresting electronic noise we’ve heard this year.
Dance works are often interesting, but few can stand to be pulled away from the choreography. The music is almost always an accompaniment, and therefore needs to be consumed in its proper context.
This one is different. Zuydervelt has given us a work so gloriously all-consuming that it can be appreciated – loved, in fact – no matter where you’re sitting.
De output van de Rotterdamse, legendarische muzikant Rutger Zuydervelt is inmiddels zo veelzijdig en immens, dat je er haast vanuit gaat dat zijn naam zelfs bij de ons nog niet ontdekte wezens in de ruimte bekend zal zijn. Binnen de kringen van liefhebbers van experimentele muziek zal dat zeker wel kloppen, maar voor degenen die daar omheen cirkelen toch maar een korte introductie. Daar waar wetenschappers ooit hebben verondersteld dat het de Chinese muur is die we van de maan zouden kunnen waarnemen, is gebleken dat het om de discografie van Zuydervelt gaat. Zijn meest bekende project is vanzelfsprekend Machinefabriek, die al een asociaal deel van mijn muziekcollectie inneemt, maar daarnaast zijn het projecten als Shivers, Piiptsjilling, L/M/R/W, Cloud Ensemble, CMMK, DNMF en de vele joint ventures met onder meer Michel Banabila, Gareth Davis, Soccer Committee, Peter Broderick, Dag Rosenqvist, Aaron Martin, Leo Fabriek, Orphax, Celer, Stephen Vitiello, Steve Roden, Tim Caitlin, Jaap Blonk en Freiband die talrijke releases opleveren. Daarbij kan je echt van alles verwachten, van ambient, glitch en drones tot neoklassiek, avant-garde en musique concrète of hybriden daarvan. Naast zijn reguliere studioalbums brengt hij met Machinefabriek ook muziek voor theater-, film- en dansproducties. Zo werkt hij al meermaals samen met de Spaanse choreograaf Iván Pérez. Hoewel je zijn muziek wellicht niet zo snel associeert met dans, is de nieuwe cd Becoming toch alweer zijn vierde voor deze in Den Haag woonachtige choreograaf. Zuydervelt brengt één lang stuk van ruim 39 minuten, wat voor een radiomaker als ik een onmogelijke lengte is (#luxeproblemen). Maar zonder een zucht te laten onderwerp ik me aan dit langgerekte stuk, want het is gewoonweg adembenemend wat hij hier laat horen. Op een bed van ambient krijg je noise, drones, veldopnames, abstracte geluiden en experimentele elektronica geserveerd. Tussendoor hoor je af en toe de van tevoren opgenomen en hier dus gesamplede zang van Mariska Baars (Soccer Committee, Heathen Prayers, Piiptsjilling), die nog voor een prachtig etherisch randje zorgt. Ik ga niet eens een poging wagen dit met iets anders te vergelijken, want dit is een volslagen uniek, diepgravende en tot de verbeelding sprekende luisterervaring. Er staat geen maat op deze meester.