AMN Reviews: Machinefabriek – Stroomtoon (Nuun)

MachineFabriek at Bar en Boos
MachineFabriek at Bar en Boos (Photo credit: wot nxt)

The seeming incorporeality of digital technology has sparked a kind of new Arts and Crafts movement among artists working in clay, wood, paint, metal and so on, emphasizing the tangible, physical stuff, artworks whose meaning and essence are revealed through the materials from which they are made. In art circles, it´s called the “New Materiality”. Some electronic composers have been addressing their machines as material, being after all as corporeal as canvas or stone, bespeaking the hands-on craft of the art. No-input samplers, especially in the hands of Sachiko M and Toshimaru Nakamura, test out frequency and texture with austere but affecting results.

Stroomtoon, “the sound of electricity”, is Machinefabriek, the prolific Rutger Zuyderveldt, experimenting with an analogue tone generator and some pedal gear, out of whose “pure sines…and the static and crackling sounds” he created endless loops and multiple textures. Layered but raw, Machinefabriek succeeds by exploring the “material” – including a Korg Monotrone synthesizer and a radio – without lessing the emotional impact of any of the five pieces. The lengthy “Eén” moves from outer space to very inner space with fluid grace. It is followed by four more numbered (in Dutch) tracks, each spending an average of four minutes exploring an idea – elliptical orbiting, static mosaic, submersion and surfacing, and a formless rumble that just ups and walks away.

Stroomtoon is unlike anything Rutger Zuydervelt has done previously and it is a fresh new success. He marries the innocence of pioneering electronic experiment with the ambient drone aesthetic and digital detailing, exploring the space within the boxes and the space without in which they vibrate.

Stephen Fruitman