WOTNXT ism DE X: Kleefstra/Kleefstra/Bakker + Celer/Machinefabriek – Meet and Greet, Leiden 23/03/12

The gig was a funny one two – whoever was playing the instructions about elk hunting, or the experiences of the Hawaiian girl, succeeded in making most of the audience laugh. It was bucolic, slightly dreamy stuff - like watching some strange radio show where the receivers were picking up some very strange broadcasts...

 

 

Incendiary had to admit to a raging hangover after the shenanigans in Amsterdam at the Subroutine bash, and normally such a set-back would have precluded any rock and roll action the night after but luckily the gig we were going to promised to soothe rather than excite. We’d seen Kleefstra/Kleefstra/Bakker before, and knew that their calming muse would bring a balm of sorts to Incendiary’s throbbing head. The brothers Jan en Romke Kleefstra create beautifully minimal landscapes for Anne Chris Bakker to intone his Friesian poetry over. Not only that but we had the brilliant Machinefabriek in the house too, joined by Will Long, aka Celer, both of whom would doubtless pick up the ambient baton from Kleefstra/Kleefstra/Bakker  and run with it. What’s more the show was at the charming Meet and Greet, once a cornershop now a house moonlighting as a podium. If we fell asleep or succumbed to a hangover mid-performance, things wouldn’t look too out of place…

Once in, we heard that king of all things weird electronica Adi Newton would be joining us, and so he did, though his appearance didn’t cause too may nerves for the acts– he remained a discreet and quiet presence in the corner of the packed out room.  We began with Kleefstra/Kleefstra/Bakker, whose act is best described as one of the brothers sitting behind his AppleMac and guitar straddled across his knees, the other standing quietly with guitar in classical pose: both filled with the intent to make quiet electronic noises. Bakker was hunched in a corner of the room, staring intently at his lectern, waiting for his cue.

The music they create is intense, minimal and very spiritual, the sounds are created by deliberate individual decisions; the sounds are acts of sorts, each movement (whether the use of a bow, or pick up to create a tone or augment a chord) is slowly and precisely carried out. And nothing is wasted with such a bare pallet. That’s not to suggest that the sounds created are thin, or meagre; on the contrary the mood was that of a thick Frisian mist over low water, incredibly evocative, mirroring a natural, earthly rhythm that Bakker’s sonorous and melancholy lines reinforced. This was a beautiful gig but one that required the listener to forget any consideration of time and space, if at any second you stepped out of your reverie it was incredibly difficult to return.  Sometimes listening to this kind of sound is more draining than you think.

A quick pause and time for Celer/Machinefabriek, who  were (if possible) even less active (this time we had two lads sitting down rather than two standing and one sitting). And worryingly all Celer’s wizardry was created behind the ubiquitous Apple Mac. (It does make you think how in hell we’ve got to a stage in gig-going, where we’re all pretty content to pay to see someone  sitting behind a laptop, for all we know a performer could be checking his mail)…

Luckily Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek) was a showman in his own quiet, unfussy way. His workspace, (we might as well call the jumble of nobs, pedals and tape recorders that were arranged on the table), was lit by a spotlight - in order that we could all see his meticulous movements. These included rubbing wire wool on wood, winding up a toy clock and playing cassettes over at regular intervals. And then – via the action of pushing the sounds through a mixer, and by virtue of twiddling the odd nob here and there - creating a rich set of quite trippy sounds. The gig was a funny one two – whoever was playing the instructions about elk hunting, or the experiences of the Hawaiian girl, succeeded in making most of the audience laugh. It was bucolic, slightly dreamy stuff - like watching some strange radio show where the receivers were picking up some very strange broadcasts… or huddling round an extremely early cat’s whiskers set just in the hope of hearing any clear sound coming through. All too quickly it was over and Incendiary was able to hunker down in bed. But this was a soothed, becalmed and spiritually satisfied Incendiary, not the jabbering wreck of two hours before.