Review in A Closer Listen

August 11, 2014    News

Various Artists – Souvenirs van de Woeste Grond
Review in A Closer Listen:

This release is so much fun it makes me want to learn Dutch. The album features new music from Gluid, Gareth Davis, Machinefabriek, Weerthof, Reinier van Houdt and Wouter van Veldhoven, which is enough by itself. But the backstory is even more intriguing.

It all started when two artists began to collect stories about the local landscape. This led to a larger project, as eight different artists (and sub-artists) created works based on the stories. These are, in no particular order, an incense holder in the shape of a brick factory, a ring in the shape of a house, a scented soap in the shape of a hand, a horse head bust, a ceramic cow cup, a potato beast and a map. These souvenirs (some available for purchase) are scattered throughout Overijssel and make for a fun treasure hunt. And what might one play while going on said treasure hunt? Souvenirs Van de Woeste Grond, of course! The physical copy includes the original stories in Dutch, but one can get a feel for the project by visiting the website below.

And now to the music – some nice surprises here as well, perhaps the biggest being a quiet yet playful piece from Machinefabriek that nods its head to Colour Tones, beginning with the intonation, “Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Brown, Purple” over a watery backdrop, leading directly to some thick guitar chords that echo until the finale of the piece. At this point an amused narrator completes the color wheel, commenting: “Black – it’s really dark, how’d that happen? Don’t mess around with black, there’s no future in it.” The track would make a fitting companion to Public Service Broadcasting’s “Roygbiv”; painters and dreamers will love it.

Wouter van Veldhoven contributes a tender guitar track with wordless vocals; Reinier van Houdt offers a quiet, rustling drone that grows in volume and stature as it develops, adding bells and ominous tones. Gavin Miller generates a 15-minute piece that comes across as an elegy for lost tales in a lost land. Gluid begins with a thunderclap before settling into a sweet reverie of birds, bass and bells. Weerthof makes copious use of wooden glockenspiel, trumpet and rain, ending with the thunder initiated by Gluid. But the real winner is Landscape Overijssel and Kunstenlab, for finding such a creative way to honor their local heritage.

(Richard Allen)

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