CHVE ~ 10910

chve_10910Often, when drone music is mentioned in relation to ritual practices I come upon the idea of an electronics-based modernist primitivism, full of loops and delays and other manipulative techniques that link to new relationships to new technologies. Few are the instances where things are much more straightforward than that, where the ritual practice intends to leave the modern behind and simply state the primitivism of a new era. CHVE, the solo output of Colin H. van Eeckhout, who is half of Belgian post-metal duo Amenra, seems to approach drone in a way that emphasizes its naturalistic rhythmic base. In this sense, 10910 is a live recording of his previous album, Rasa, done in one take in a single place. Armed solely with his voice, a hurdy-gurdy (an ancient string instrument that’s been sort of a favorite with experimental musicians for a while now) and a bodhrán (a small Irish frame drum that seemed to have evolved from the tambourine in the 19th century), CHVE provides an entrancing base whose raga-like qualities are undeniable, and which without any sort of modern manipulation come to stand ‘naturally’ on their own: a drone music based not so much upon the intersection of technology and Asian spirituality but on more traditionally European folk forms.

Leaving the intervention of technology in terms of recording process aside, 10910 could be interpreted to be the extension of the commonplace idea of folk music as being inherently closer to the everyday, its instruments belonging to the domain of an unprofessional, naturalized skill that is passed down in a tradition embodied by those who care to look backwards and find value in the preservation of a living history. The artist’s voice builds a profundity through echoes, a sense of space that in the droning repetition of the hurdy-gurdy seems continually at a loss, its singular tones stretching space and time into a line. The voice, spectrally reminiscent of medieval chants, points at the orality of that history, with the peculiarities of its development often coming to oppose or at least contrast with the more archival, institutionalized appreciations of the worth of a music or its instruments – everyone knows what a violin is, but the same cannot be said for the hurdy-gurdy or the bodhrán. The depth granted by the voice and its echo is both of the present and the past, like a haunting in which a tradition once lost (like that of the hurdy-gurdy, which by the end of the first half of the 20th century was rare) suddenly and nightmarishly comes back to life in a time no longer properly its own.

Nature, in this form, is therefore not just a simplified rendition of a clichéd idealism but a struggling echo that simultaneously fades and resists disappearance: the relentless drumming and the brief and acute hurdy-gurdy melody that arises at about half-way through the sole 26-minute track grant it with a solidity unmatched by the voice. It is not the base drone what provides the music with a presence — with its sheer, continual flatness – it is the interplay between the melody, the drums, and the ghostly voice. This is our primitivism, a folk music drone of loss and mourning in which the natural is something to be ritually invoked so as to contemplate its disappearance and not its permanence. Tread carefully, for each resonant tone is a dream of a vastness once inherited. (David Murrieta)


Available here.


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