AMN Reviews: Mariska Baars & Rutger Zuydervelt – Eau (2019; Machinefabriek)

This short album (or long EP) features Mariska Baars on vocals, guitar, and kalimba, with Rutger Zuydervelt on guitars and sound processing. But that simple description does not capture the essence of Eau, which is French for “water”. And that title is apt, as the music ebbs and flows like a stream of consciousness.

Baar’s vocals are heavily processed with echo and delay. She both lilts and lulls, navigating through a haunting and alien soundscape. Her words are not as important as the timbres and melodies of her voice. The closest analogy is perhaps to Eastern European folk music with a post-modern approach. The guitar playing features cleanly picked or sustained electric notes that compliment Baars more than accompany her.

Consisting of a single 30-minute track with generous studio manipulation, Eau is a gentle yet unconventional dream sequence laden with minimalistic effects, crackling elements and a bassy rumble or two. Overall, while too busy to be considered “ambient” in the traditional sense, the album is best listened to as a member of that loose genre. An unusual and highly compelling release.