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Herfsttonen (review)

Published: April 22, 2010
Tags: esc.rec.27, Press

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As the musical part of the “Landtonen” festival in november 2009, “Herfsttonen” (Autumn Sounds) celebrated the local district of “Okkenbroek“, near Deventer (in Holland).

This may sound as if it is interesting to local citizens only.
Not true! – That would mean the large part of the world would miss this great project!

The three compositions presented here are very different from each other, but they are linked by the theme, and by the environmental sounds of Okkenbroek. This album deserves to be heard out of the local context, too, because it is dedicated to preserving the kind of rural life that may disappear all too quickly.

Some sound samples include people speaking in the dutch northern dialect, but even if you don’t understand a word of what they say you’ll understand they achieve heavy tasks by working together closely, by not losing their humour…but you’ll also get a glimpse of some of their fears, too. (In the beginning of the Gluid track there’s a woman asking “Er is toch niks ernstigs gebeurd, valt nog mee hè?” (“It’s nothing serious, I hope? Is it?)

Paul de Jong‘s “Okkenblues” introduces Okkenbroek (“Groot hè?” – Big, isn’t it?) with a striking violin-cello-guitar composition Greg Haines – style. The middle part of it has a beautiful musical effect: it’s like the music slowly dozing off while the image of citizens accomplishing a heavy task becomes sharper slowly (they’re obviously putting something in place, maybe the big vase especially created for this Landtonen festival). When the work is done, the music kicks back in to return to the beautiful theme.

MiaMia is a poet combining her work with soundscapes and video projections. She walks through the Okkenbroek landscape as if in a dream (“We always tend to forget our dreams // There’s always the morning coming inbetween” ). Her murmuring voice in the soundscape turns Okkenbroek into a haunting abstract landscape.

…Which is quite different from the view presented by Gluid, a project byBram van den Oever accompanied by Cello and Vibraphone for this occasion. This track starts with some dark undertones, but definitely ends optimistic and lighthearted. If comparisions are needed: this reminded me of some of the impressive music coming over from Iceland (like MùmSigur Ross or Amina).

Unfortunately, the album is only slightly over 32 minutes long. But it’s enough to leave you with the feeling you have been to a peaceful place vaguely familiar. And you will probably not forget about your visit to Okkenbroek.

So here’s my advice to foreign visitors: next time, forget about Amsterdam’sRed Light District and take some time to visit Okkenbroek and its surroundings.  And if you’re not coming over to Holland, just visit Esc.rec. to a grab a copy of this album – which may prove to be one of the most adventurous dutch releases this year!

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