Invariably the music is of the highest quality, if focussed pretty heavily on things that could be herded up into the ambient / post-post-industrial / white noise / alt-jazz bracket.
So, here we are with three releases from a great Dutch label, Samling. Samling are based in Rotterdam and seem to be concerned with putting out artsy records replete with sensitive, obtuse artwork, all encased in eccentric packaging: each physical release, it seems, enjoying a miniscule print run. These overtones of the Ivory Tower shouldn’t put you off giving some of Samling’s back catalogue a spin, mind, as invariably the music is of the highest quality, if focussed pretty heavily on things that could be herded up into the ambient / post-post-industrial / white noise / alt-jazz bracket. Quiet and reflective white noise is where we’re “at” here.
First to note is the latest from Rotterdam’s Mike Koldin. Mike Koldin are a duo that Sascha from Worm hipped me onto a good year ago. I’d seen the two lads - replete with an army of electronic circuitry - at a gig last year in de Nieuwe Anita last summer and I enjoyed it a lot, but there’s no doubt that it’s on record where their Muse springs forth, radiant and anointed. Their release (Live at OT301 SL012) comes in a booklet with lots of fairly abstract, fuzzy pictures of people jumping off things, or suspended mid-air. This feeling of stasis informs the record too, the 33 minute track having a ghostly, somnolent feel that is actually very engaging. There’s a lot of slightly meditational pulsating going on, sounding for all the world like a huge fridge or air-co system throbbing through the night in some abandoned business unit. The wobbly reedy synth and slight gradations of tone that initially serve for a melody line (before the throbbing takes complete charge for the mid-section) also remind me of the noises that were beloved of Atem-era T-Dream. It’s reflective, soothing music that fits remarkably well with these cold, still days of late winter. A fine release, especially near the end when the melody returns.
Something different with the clatter of Herrek, who look to unsettle the listener with their release Hyenas: (SL03). The (pretend 7” single) cover is a fairly creepy picture of a Hyena and a bloke in the dead of night. The music is similarly tough and feral: the release is full of howling, scraping sounds that drive the tracks into each other in a buzzing, glutinous, scrabbling whirl of sound. Vocals turn up half way through the second track to make everything that bit more messy and unformed; the vox being more like intonations or loose incantations. Thus is the template laid down before us: with the jagged soundscapes carrying on unchecked, and with things getting more and more reflective and nocturnal near the end. I saw Herrek recently at Eurosonic in Groningen and I have to say they sounded bugger all like this record. I think that’s a good thing.
Something different again from Woud, an offshoot of the great Eklin. Their release (Woud SL05 – in conjunction with scenester organisation Subbacultcha) offers the prospective purchaser a free poster depicting a lonely house in the woods, a CD and “sleevesnotes” - all stuffed into an A5 plastic folder. Woud deals in a sort of dark, ambient folk; heavy on mood, though it’s a sound that is blessed with an undercurrent of melody now and again. These melodic passages – as well as the impassive vocal prompts that turn up from time to time - are fairly subliminal, and pretty much in thrall to the overall atmosphere. In fact the whole record reminds me very forcibly of trudging warily through some dripping scrubland in the fog of an autumn day. In that regard, it’s remarkably effective; as Woud means wood or copse in Dutch. Brief in length, but affecting stuff.
Samling have plenty more releases to tempt those of a quiet, reflective nature, such as stuff from Eklin, LUIK, Mere and I Am Oak. All worth checking out we say.