A Closer Listen is honored to present this exclusive stream of Machinefabriek‘s album +, two weeks in advance of release! We’ve been enjoying this album for a while now and are now overjoyed to be able to share it with our readers!
There are two ways to listen to this set below: as 52 individual tracks or as a 55-minute mix. Each has its own distinct pleasures. The album celebrates the art of creation, as Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) invited dozens of friends to submit a minute of music for him to shape, putting the album in the company of Second Language’s classic Minute Papillon and Virgin Babylon’s sublime One Minute Older. Due to its tonal variety, + shares with those releases the element of surprise; one never knows what may be coming next. The difference is that all of the tracks are shaped by a single composer; Zuydervelt’s addition of beats and textures guides disparate sources to a single stream (pun intended). The title carries multiple interpretations, from the most obvious (Machinefabriek + guest artist) to the personal (Rutger + child), as the artist recently became a parent (congratulations!). The short tracks reflect the time constraints of parenting, as any recording must be done between feedings!
The mix begins with the winding of a music box, suggesting a nursery. One wonders if Jeroen Diepenmaat had the new arrival in mind when sending Rutger two such boxes. Then things turn somber, but with a project such as this, one knows they will remain somber for only a minute at a time. A selection that ends in a lull may be followed by a surge, a classical piece by a rocker. The sequencing must have been challenging, but fun: a 52-piece puzzle for Dad to construct. soccer Committee’s piece comes across as a lullaby, until the drums kick in. Colin Webster rustles like a restless child, but segues well into Ruisvogel. The album has entered its abstract phase.
We are awash in familiar names: Jeremy Young, Tim Catlin, Leafcutter John, Christine Ott, Peter Broderick, Aaron Martin. But the names are less important than the combination, the leaves less important than the tree. Personalities disappear in the mix; Zyggurat and Danny Saul receive club beats, Ott drum ‘n’ bass. Each is a pleasant surprise. The album reflects the blend of nature and nurture in a child’s upbringing; the contributors provide the nature, Zuydervelt the nurture.
Leafcutter John plays scrap metal; Areliz Ramos plays cups. Others contribute medieval bass flute, featherphone, ukulele and shō. One can hear a reflection of childhood in the contributors, asked for only a minute of their time, an invitation to be creative, to use traditional instruments, found sounds or field recordings, a tabula rasa of sound. As they accumulate, these works begin to weave a wondrous tapestry of personalities, 52 ways in which a child might go, a deck of cards, only the edge of a world of possibilities. As such, they also reflect a parent’s dreams and imaginings when they consider the future of their child. + suggests partnership, creativity, growth. With a circle of friends so large, this new child already has a great head start. (Richard Allen)