In Dutch, plots means “suddenly or unexpectedly.” Willem Sannen‘s album of the same name seeks to “celebrate the passing of time” through specific sounds, some whose meanings are obvious and others whose relevance is obscured.
Take a moment to consider what the “obvious” might be: clocks, tides, train announcements, the sweep of a pendulum, the tolling of a bell. These are the “official” ways to tell time. But Sannen also includes some mysterious entries, the first of which is “Tomb.” One recalls the experiments during which a volunteer researcher is lowered into the earth, and must make do in complete darkness. Inevitably, their sense of time grows warped. When extracted, their attempts to measure time are exposed as inadequate.
Might “Tomb” be a way to measure time? Yes, should one establish a base level of BPM, reflected in the tempo of the drips. This natural runoff sounds like an organic techno track. Yet Sannen’s intent is not to measure, but to celebrate ~ and if one can dance in the dark, this is the perfect soundtrack. The ensuing match strike is relevant, partially because light and dark are contrasted and partially because the burning of a match has its own beauty (especially to firebugs) and limited time frame. “Railing” is less obvious, reminiscent of a bored child tapping to pass time, introducing a new mode of perception. The same is true of “Glass Container,” which conjures a negative connotation: waiting for mum to get home and ask who broke the dinnerware. There may be joy in the breakage, but time slows when the fear of punishment sets in.
“Digital Clock” needs no explanation, but the longest piece, “Shelter,” begs exegesis. At first it seems like a hybrid of “Tombs” and “Railing,” capturing the sound of droplets against metal, as random as a child yet as persistent as a stalactite. The title is the giveaway, indicating that one has sought refuge from the elements and is now enjoying nature’s score. But in the sixth minute, church bells toll the eleventh hour. The beauty of the peals is set against the stagnancy of the digital clock.
Whether one seeks to pass time or measure it, to rue time or celebrate it, there’s much to contemplate on this album, which concludes with a single percussive blast. How much time has passed since we pressed Play? Did it seem shorter or longer than the actual time? Do we perceive time as a series of events or as a continual flow? The conversation is just beginning. (Richard Allen)