Attention, the Doors Are Closing!
2. Slapping Dance
3. Kostya's Solo
5. Sasha's Solo
6. Perfect Contact
cd and download, self released, January 2014
CD SOLD OUT
But available as download here:
Bandcamp / Subradar
After making the music (with Aaron Martin) for his piece Hide And Seek, choreographer Iván Pérez asked me to score his work Attention: the Doors Are Closing! The piece was made for Ballet Moscow, as part of their collaboration with Korzo (The Hague), for the Rusland-Netherlands year 2013.
Before Ivan went to Russia to start working with the dancers, I made hours of raw material, mostly based on recordings of drums (which I found fitting with the concept of the piece). The last three weeks of the working process I joined Ivan in Moscow to work intensely on the music, while he was dealing with the finishing touches of the chreography. Each day the piece grew, and sound and movement got closer together.
Attention deals with human relations in all its aspects, and especially how these function in a Russian society. It's a very physical performance that draws from agression, humilation and intimacy in equal parts. The score enhances this, making it a very intense and at times intimidating work.
The cd comes in a slim cd-single-style jewelcase and is mastered by Joe Panzner.
Click hear for a trailer
Netherlands-based electronic producer/sound designer Rutger Zuydervelt last emerged a few months back with his second collaborative album alongside Banabila ‘Travelog’, and this latest Machinefabriek solo collection ‘Attention, The Doors Are Closing!’ presents his accompanying soundtrack for choreographer Ivan Perez’s ballet performance of the same name by Ballet Moscow, as part of their collaboration with The Hague’s Korzo last year. While the accompanying notes describe Perez’s ballet as “a very physical performance that draws from aggression, humiliation and intimacy in equal parts”, when taken on its own this collection doesn’t convey much in the way of motion, with the six tracks here being based around drone textures and subtle elements of noise, in a manner that could almost be described as isolationist ambient at points. Indeed, there’s certainly an underlying sense of bleak intensity to this entire album.
After brief intro track ‘Entrance’ sees distant hums and hissing tones suddenly being punctuated by a single explosive crash, ‘Slapping Dance’ emerges with what sounds like metallic bowl percussion, the ringing harmonics blurring into a drone against rattling noises before a rush of scraping textures arrives to up the levels of tension as walls of glitchy electronic noise begin to slowly overtake the entire track in a cocoon of distortion. ‘Kostya’s Solo’ meanwhile spends 17 minutes slowly shifting from a humming intro section of distantly beeping electronics before ringing harmonic tones that resemble treated gongs gradually shift to the foreground amidst digital crackles and what sounds like field-recorded frogs (though they could just as easily be geiger counter clicks), and brooding looped cello drones rise into focus. Elsewhere, ‘Manipulation’ evokes the ominous yet minimalist atmospheres of Japanese Noh theatre more than anything else as the repeated slow ring of distant gongs offers up one of this album’s most hushed, yet eerie moments. While I’m still intrigued as to how it works alongside the visuals, this album manages to be suitably dark and evocative when taken on its own.
A dance score by Rutger Zuydervelt for a work by Iván Pérez dealing with aspects of human relations in contemporary Russian society, the six tracks ranging from rhythmically aggressive to serene and much in between.
After a low hum on the first track, the second section launches into a metallophone driven, bleak landscape, where tiny creaks blossom into infernal, post-industrial vistas, all steam and isolation. The music descends back into darkness after this, dim glimmers and crackles appearing midst the gloom, all very effectively handled, especially as the resonances of the gongs (?) gains power and depth. (titled, "Kostya's Solo", I'd be very interested to see how this was danced to). Ultimately, the cut develops a heavy, malignant throb, a moment that shows how far the shadow of "Swastika Girls" can stretch. A peaceful track for floating, muffled gongs is followed by one with a more insistent, abrasive (though fairly soft) mechanical rhythm. The disc ends very ethereally though. It's been mostly percussion and electronics throughout, here in warmly vibrant tones, hazily ringing, suspended, muffled voices, even making oblique references to melodies, dreamy but never losing rigor.
A good job all around, excellent sound (mastered by Joe Panzner) in which to wallow. I can only imagine how well it worked at Ballet Moscow.
The list of Rutger Zuydervelt’s collaborations runs long and crosses disciplines the way most Bostonians cross the street. From records with Will Long (Celer), Nils Frahm and Peter Broderick to soundtracks and scores for Chris Teerink (Sol LeWitt) and Alexander Whitley (The Measures Taken) to sound installations for the Museum Oud-Amelisweerd and Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam — one would be forgiven for thinking the Machinefabriek name covered the work of an entire artists collective and not the output of a single Nederlander from Apeldoorn.
His latest work, Attention, the Doors are Closing!, was produced for the Dutch-Spanish choreographer Iván Pérez, who conceived and developed this piece for the contemporary dance division of the Moscow Ballet. Pérez’s stated intent was to mine the social and psychological complexities of living in Russia, and to do so by placing a special emphasis on the role of intimacy, a concept that he understands rather broadly: the intimacy of taking the bus to work, of hearing your neighbors through the walls, of bumping into someone at work, and the usual suspects, too, like falling in love.
If the music is any indication, the unspoken subtext of the ballet is all tension, fear and paranoia. Zuydervelt taps into these uncomfortable states for the duration of his score, a knife-like, often pitch-black affair that will probably strike most listeners as being unsuitable for dance.
Don’t let all the bowed metal and analog fracas fool you. Zuydervelt’s compositions suggest a multitude of movements, as flowing and as jerky as the gesticulations of a modern dancer. His sounds buzz and roll on “Slapping Dance”; they twitch and stretch creakily during “Kostya’s Solo”; and on “Manipulation,” they float impossibly through the air as if held up by an invisible string. But the frequent lack of an overt meter calls attention to the way Zuydervelt handles these gestures. He focuses less on the motions of dance and more on the underlying causes behind them, effectively translating the mood of the piece without mirroring it rhythmically.
This lends the music some very welcome unpredictability and helps Machinefabriek’s sounds to stand alone, distinct from the ballet they were meant to accompany. By freeing himself from the duty to mimic Pérez’s choreography, Zuydervelt made some beautiful and chilling musical decisions. Death knells don’t exactly inspire visions of pirouetting ballerinas, but Zuydervelt lays their burdensome weight right at the heart of his album, their swaying motion captured audibly and set in the company of feint radio signals, which seem eager to find a strong source somewhere in the darkness. The gravity of their swinging calls to mind ambulating bodies and the kind of listless drudgery subway commuters know, but it also just sounds wonderful. It could be meditative and relaxing if it weren’t so heavy and sullen.
The recording itself deserves special mention, too. It’s crystal clear and as physical as one could hope for an album this weighty. The instruments sound physically present, almost unnaturally vivid in their materiality. The way they echo and reverberate reinforces the bodily origins of the music, and it also adds an incredible amount of detail to an album that employs several slow-moving, frequently static passages.
Zuydervelt’s sense of locomotion is more sophisticated and covers a wide spectrum of movements than it at first appears. It emanates from the tools he used to make the music, but instead of moving outwards into the arms and legs, it travels inward and stirs the brain into action.
Was Ist Das?
As soon as you hear the first track 'Entrance', a subtle blend of buzz, hum and almost imperceptible feedback, you know that this one is goin to be a little out of the ordainry. 'Slapping Dance' sound like rapidly sequenced bowl percussion built up with other treated percussions into a frantic, nearvious soundfield.
This is not a release that is afraid to embrace dissonance, minimalism and the strange. Yet, you would not call it a challenging listen. Machinefabriek delivers these sonic oddities in a compelling manner.
The experiments never get boring thanks to the way the tracks constantly evolve and develop. The skilled recording and production just explode with life making the headphone listen an extraordinary voyage into another world.
This album makes the strange accessible and the alien enjoyable. Enjoy the travels.
Over the years Rutger Zuydervelt has moved from playing 'just' concerts and releasing 'just' CDs (and whatever else) to doing soundtracks to movies, sound installations and music for ballet. Quite a great move as there is probably more work and more money in there. The CD becomes a by-product, a souvenir if you will for said movie, installation or ballet. Here we have the latter, music created for Ballet Moscow, as part of the Russian-Netherlands year 2013 (which didn't go to well, with Greenpeace being locked down, the Russian ambassador being arrested while being drunk, and something about gay rights in Russia, versus Russian dissidet dying in Dutch prison - oh). But this went well, this collaboration with Ivan Perez. "Attention deals with human relations in all its aspects, and especially how these function in a Russian society. It's a very physical performance that draws from agression, humilation and intimacy in equal parts. The score enhances this, making it a very intense and at times intimidating work." For this work, Zuydervelt uses drums/percussion sounds in his six pieces, all of course highly processed in whatever fine fashion Zuydervelt employs for his music. But, not for the first time, we also hear the percussion in their original state. The bowed, scraping of cymbals, which emerge from the opening drones of 'Perfect Contact' for instance, but also the percussive hazyness of 'Slapping Dance', which deems me perfect suitable for a dance production, or the solemnly played 'Manipulation'. But a piece like 'Kostyas Solo' is trademark Machinefabriek: lots of drones, crackles, deep bass and static hiss. These two sides may seem opposites but they are not, really. They make up a great and varied album, with Zuydervelt further expanding his sound pallette. A great album!
Within Rutger Zuydervelt’s voluminous discography sit several albums of music for film that rank among his strongest and best-known work (“Sol Sketches”, “Secret Photographs”, “Apollo”). His dance scores are less numerous, but that number is growing, with a new commission from choreographer Iván Pérez being the latest dance collaboration to produce an audio release. The specific requirements and expectations of a score commission inevitably close some doors and open others, and yet can lead to some imaginative and innovative music, as the film scores prove. What new ingredients might a dance situation throw into the mix?
Zuydervelt worked closely with Pérez and dancers from the companies Ballet Moscow and Korzo to create this new score, resulting in an album that closely follows the dramaturgy of the dance performance. It is immediately apparent from listening that the constraints imposed by the nature of the collaboration pushed the music in a different direction from that taken by Zuydervelt’s film scores. The ambling, patient drones give way to a much more dynamic approach, with stronger contrasts of rhythm and texture — I can’t think of another Machinefabriek album where one could speak so easily of a kind of topography of ‘loud pieces’ and ‘quiet pieces’, of peaks and troughs. While there are no ‘beats’ present, in the dance music sense of the term, a much more conscious and deliberate approach to rhythm has been integrated right across the album, from the frenetic ringing of “Slapping Dance”, through the languidness of “Kostya’s Solo”, to the lurching, teetering saws that bring things to a close.
To what extent this emphasis on dynamism reflects either the nature of the particular choreography it scores, or the more general modernist cliché that posits dance as an inherently and necessarily dynamic and energetic artform, is perhaps beside the point for those of us sat listening at home. More relevant is the invigorating, animating effect this more tensile structure has on Zuydervelt’s tonal innovations. The details of individual sounds, the ways they are developed and played off against one another, are in no way lacking or diminished here, with the restriction to a smaller range of more flexible chiming, buzzing, and ringing timbres reflecting the sharper focus of Zuydervelt’s recent output. This trademark respect for individual sounds coupled with a more dynamic, narrative-like structure make for a slightly different Machinefabriek release, but perhaps one of his most accessible and immediately engaging thus far — well worth seeking out.
Culture is Not Your Friend
Unsettling and mind provoking, Machinefabriek’s score music for the work of choreographer Iván Pérez, titled “Attention, the Doors Are Closing!” for Ballet Moscow, should indeed be an amazing experience as a dance performance, and I am curious to see how did Pérez translate the sounds of this musical act into moves. At points, Machinefabriek produces killer rhythms, like on the track “Sasha’s Solo” where the sound is heavy enough to turn listeners completely paranoid, yet rhythmic enough for them to move their aching heads frantically with, god forbid, joy.
‘Perfect Contact’ is very different, drawing its power from a sacred ritual of metal scratching metal, sending unholy shivers down the spine. Entrance sends bass waves into my body like a ship dropping its anchor down in deep water. Machinefabriek builds a delicate, sophisticated system of anxiety and thrill with sounds that both repel you with their naked brutality, and tempt you to stay and listen to them, with promises of salvation through musical rituals.
Sitting in complete darkness, with this album in my headphones, Kostyas Solo of what sounds like a brilliant display of sinister of door screeches. I want to see the performance for this album, but for now I have to settle with complete darkness, embracing the challenging work. ‘Attention, the doors are closing’ is a wonderful album, and although I did not hear them all, this is also one of the best albums that I have heard from this artist.
Zo fanatiek als ik was met het volgen van het werk van Rutger Zuydervelt een jaar of 4 a 5 geleden ben ik niet meer, daarvoor is het gewoon te veel. Maar zo af en toe pik ik er nog wel eens wat uit, vooral als hij op de nieuwe Machinefabriek release een nieuwe weg lijkt te zijn ingeslagen. Zodoende was het bij het horen van enkele samples van “Attention, the doors are closing!” al vrij snel duidelijk dat dit er wel een voor mij was. Deze release is ook niet gewoon een album, maar een ware score bij een dansstuk van Iván Pérez speciaal geschreven voor het Nederland – Ruslandjaar. En zowaar misschien wel een van weinige positieve zaken die we daar aan over gehouden hebben.
De muziek is gebaseerd op geluiden van percussie instrumenten en speelt, naar het schijnt, volledig in op het dansstuk, wat ik niet kan beoordelen want die heb ik niet gezien. Maar wat ik wel kan beoordelen is dat het een spannende release is geworden waarin heel veel ruimte voor stille passages is opgenomen. Het is vaak minimaal, maar weet daartegenover ook op de juiste momenten behoorlijk te vlammen.
Een fijne release van Zuydervelt, een die ik wel bij een van zijn beste werken durf te rekenen.