The return of Bas van Huizen is a welcome late-season surprise. We last heard from the Dutch artist under his Shoganai moniker, with an album that made our Top Ten Drone of 2013. The tracks here may be a little older, but they seem timeless. van Huizen’s style – dark yet covertly melodic – breaks through the boundaries of the genre into something more literary, as these pieces were conceived as a collection of short sonic stories.
The teaser video (seen below) is reminiscent of the artist’s Domaine de la lutte, which appeared half a decade ago as promotion for a Stig Inge Oy album. To call the visuals strange would be an understatement. Simultaneously creepy and elegant, this short work serves as a metaphor for the album. Human heads appear on animal bodies, and vice versa; eyes dart furiously in boxed enclosures; a wrinkled old man blinks his unsettling eyes toward the camera.
As to the drones themselves: van Huizen’s work is thicker and more musical than that of his contemporaries, rich in texture and dynamic contrast. Sometimes it’s a glitch, sometimes a guitar, sometimes a singing bowl, but the mix is always in motion, tumbling like a kaleidoscope. When one listens with headphones (or increases the volume of one’s speakers), one also begins to appreciate the artist’s attentiveness to stereo effects. The fields are sown with drone, but tiny sounds sprout and roam about. Whether scrape or chime, swirl or chord, they dance on the edges of wheat. Without the video, one might consider such sounds sublime rather than foreboding, but with the video, one wonders at the creatures who might lie just beyond our vision, toying with our blind spots, swinging from the stalks. By creating a phantasmagorical visual world, van Huizen inspires a matching aural world. Together they form a unique universe that could only have been formed by this singular mind. (Richard Allen)