zaterdag 31 december 2011

review: Bex, Niedowierzanie, Henrik N. Björkk, Jan Svensson

Well that is about it for 2011... only a few hours left this year to play some records. I do not like end of year lists and I will not be joining that trend here. Still in this last day of the year I want to share a few words on a couple of records that were released quite recently and I played a lot here this last period of the year.

The German double label Treue Um Treue / Reue Um Reue did suprise me again with some very nice releases. In the past I preferred their more elektro influenced release on the TUT part of the label. But since some time the RUR part with it's more experimental music releases is what I play the most here.

This year a third vinyl by Novy Svet was released... a second archive release as the band is not active anymore since some years. The other archive record was a massive 2LP document with early (post)-industrial stuff... absolute great. Totally different is "Into Your Skies"... a record consisting only of guitar tunes... mostly acoustic guitar tunes. It took me some time to appreciate this one... but because of the amazing and beautiful song 'Silver & Grey' I kept coming back to this LP again and again... and even though I still think this record does not showcase the uniqueness of the band and incredible talent of the musician(s) behind it is still a record I enjoy a lot.

Then there was the second Niedowierzanie LP... the first one was a bit of an IDM influenced album... not bad at all but it never did grasp me as this new album "Attendre" does. The sound has shifted towards a more mediterranean kind of thing... like what O Paradis is famous for... still Niedowierzanie is more dynamic and his music shows some more variations within the context of one album. Also the musician shows here he is an excellent instrumentalist... I saw him this year performing live with Wermut in Berlin as he is now part of Wermut... and there too it was evident he is capable of playing various instruments very well.

Still there was one more record on RUR that truly blew me away... it was the debut vinyl by Bex... having a (post) black metal background this album "Rosegger" is going way beyond that. You could described this as a drone record, or dark ambient music or whatever... still this would not be fair as the music is less easy to define... it has a dark mood full of suspense with drone like structures but with twists that sets it apart. It is not otherworldly like the amazing Karl Bösmann record "Eskalation" but still it comes close and I often play these two records after each other...

Curious to hear what else is coming from Bex in the near future, but also from Niedowierzanie and other acts of what seems to be a new scene operating from Berlin and centered around the Reue um Reue label.

What else did attract my attention this last period... well there are the latest releases on cult label Börft. Here is an independent industrial / experimental / whatever music label dating back to 1987 and coming from the same scene as Cold Meat Industry. Unlike Cold Meat Indsutry the releases put out by Börft are still interesting... CMI has moved more towards a cliché industrial and gothic world while Börft has stayed much more true to the nature of industrial music as being weird and undefined and experimental.

There is a new series now on Börft entitled "Synthesator". Two parts have been released recently. Volume two is by Joel Brindefalk and a piece of electro-acoustic music... so very much for art music lovers. Volume one on the other hand may appeal to more people. It is a piece of dark ambient by Henrik N. Björkk, who is known from such bands as Mz. 412, Pouppeé Fabrikk and Nordvargr. What makes this record really nice is that it is done completely with modular synths and the music was not processed in anyway afterwards. You hear this and the sound of these synths is great and makes it also interesting for lovers of synthesizer music instead of only (dark) ambient fans.

BUT what really suprised me the most was the record "Pogrom" from label boss Jan Svensson himself. It suprised me in various ways... first as I had expected the music to be noise music... well if you look at the sleeve it is a classic industrial/noise piece of artwork and then you put on the record... it is really nice synth music. The music itself surprised me too... it is not just a really nice piece of synth music... it is really quality stuff we are talking about here. It is rather atmospheric with some parts which are maybe a bit more moody but mostly it is quite light and easy listening... it reminds me of some Minimal Music like that of Terry Riley but less freaky...

Also this album calls to mind the Hero Wouters LP I released on Enfant Terrible "Muziek Voor Leven En Dood". It has the same balance of being poppy and experimental... it is neither and has elements of both. Also in mood and feeling it has the same dramatic feeling with some suspense and some frivolous parts...

These records made up an excellent soundtrack for the last periode of 2011 for me... but I am sure I will be enjoying them way into the new year and for much longer...

The Niedowierzanie, Bex, Henrik N. Björkk and Jan Svensson records are for sale in the Enfant Terrible webshop...

And... here is a full track preview from the Jan Svensson LP...

Jan Svensson - Happening by Terrible Music Blog

woensdag 14 december 2011

review: Optic Nest - Entertainment

Optic Nest... for some years I only had that nice 7 inch with two crazy slow psychedelic minimal electronic tracks on it. Stuff that is working its way up from a Silver Apples heritage but that is also for sure from a different planet of its own. And now this LP... amazing... simply amazing... goodbye Silver Apples reference and hello other weirdness... still psychedelic at times more mostly just twisted and not of thisd place and way beyond your average (minimal) music.

This LP (again on Moptaco Dics)... well if released in the 80's this would have been collector stuff on discogs and ebay now... but now... I am afraid only for the real connoisseur... a piece for freaks and adventurous listeners... Think WSDP releases with a less punk / NDW twist and a more minimal music touch or maybe Thorax-Wach on acid...

The 7 inch convinced me already and had me hooked for years... this LP... I am a believer now... a follower... this LP is still working it way into my system deeper and deeper... get this or be ignorant... it is as simple as that...

I have some copies at the webshop and here is one full track...

Optic Nest - The Well Stirred Wild by Moptaco Dics

vrijdag 18 november 2011

full track preview: Adolf Filter - River of Chebar from V/A - Svensk Bonnasynth

OUT NOW is the compilation "Svensk Bonnasynth" featuring minimal elektro and synthpop by Kord, Monster Apparat and Adolf Filter. Here is one of the track by Adolf Filter.

For more information on this record see here...

The record is available at the ET webshop and the regular shops and webshops that carry the ET releases...

Adolf Filter - River of Chebar by EnfantTerribleNL

dinsdag 25 oktober 2011

full track preview: Kord - I, Sexuality from V/A - Svensk Bonnasynth

Out soon will be the compilation "Svensk Bonnasynth". A record with Swedish elektro / synth acts Adolf Filter, Monster Apparat and Kord. Here is one of the Kord tracks as a preview. Enjoy!

More information here...

It is possible to pre-order this record here...

Kord - I, sexuality by EnfantTerribleNL

donderdag 20 oktober 2011

review: Xander Harris, Psychic Reality, Maria Minerva & Holy Other

I love synth music... but I guess that is no secret. In this day and age of unlimited recycling I am fed up with all re-issues spit out over the world every month. Contemporary music deserves more attention and has more cultural relevance... but this I have said before... maybe too many times already... Anyway for my part I try to keep an eye out for new synth sounds all the time... recently I came across a few records that are spinning here all the time now.

Xander Harris is one of these... with his "Urban Gothic" album he found a way into my home and heart for sure. His mix of psychedelic synth music in the Kosmische Scene style... think Schulze... with elektro, and at times even EBM, influenced beats is working perfectly for me. The tracks are not too long... sometimes even more like sketches than real tracks mabye... still they work for me. The album is building up... the beats are becoming more dominant gradually... so the whole album is like a trip from tranquil pieces to rather beat driven tunes... still I prefer the A side best and the last few tracks on the A side especially... this as they are the perfect blending of pyschedelic synth lines with a clear rhythm with beats that are not too much in your face... simply perfect!

After finishing the A side of the Xander Harris I often switch to the Psychic Reality album "Vibrant New Age". More house music influenced when it kicks in with the opening track "Fruit". Still this could have been Gold Panda on his first releases and / or with a more trippy and less clean sound. Or... this could have fitted on Throbbing Gristle's "20 Jazz Funk Greats" like a more poppy / proto house version of 'Hot On The Heels Of Love'. BUT... the best thing about "Vibrant New Age" is that the record evolves into a much less easy to consume album that flirts with some post-punk influences... like a Sixteens on tranquilizers maybe... or a hippie version of Zola Jesus...

And then there is "Maria Minerva's Cabaret Cixous" by Maria Minerva... superb synth stuff unlike you hear most of the time... hippie punk weird synth music at it's very best! Poppy but not at all slick or easy... anything like that to be true. Maybe even some of the most adventurous pop music you have heard for some time... How does it sound? I have no idea how to describe this really... it has an exotic feel, it is playful, weird, minimal... well these words would attract my attention if I read about synth music sounding that way...

Still this is not as trippy as the "With U" EP by Holy Other... and this record has for sure some dubstep influences... and I never did like dubstep before... not really... I heard some really slow and dark things but most was too hip-hop orientated for me in the end... Anyway "With U" is deep and slow and doomy... when played at 33 rpm... a massive trip into the unknown... but you can also play this record at 45 rpm and then it is still deep and doomy but could serve a well informed, or drugged out, dancefloor audience for sure. And I cannot decide at which speed the record is at its best... it works perfectly for me at both speeds... funny and strange but excellent in many ways!

I have some copies of the Xander Harris and Psychic Reality records in my webshop...

vrijdag 2 september 2011

review: Ilya Monosov and Rosa Ensemble

Recently released on the superb label You Don't Have To Call It Music from Germany is an album with a collection of pieces by Ilya Monosov. Ilya Monosov is a contemporary musician / composer who is active in the field of experimental music. Since 1999 there has been quite a number of releases with music by him, mostly on tape and vinyl.

His works range from drones and psychedelic soundscapes to electro-acoustic pieces to minimal music and to improvised pieces. And... this LP collects all that in a fantastic way. You get eight pieces as either an introduction to, or as a confirmation of, his work.

The record is not just a collection... the pieces are sequenced just in the right way to make this a true adventure in sound and music. From playful to darker moods and from pleasant harmonic pieces to more difficult to follow experimental pieces. It is all here.

You Don't Have To Call It Music has released some fabulous other records as well. For example the RBE (Raudive Bunker Experiment) collection with true early industrial music. For fans of Cabaret Voltaire this one is not to be missed But also the Karl Bösmann LP "Eskalation" is excellent. Probably one of the most intense en darkest records I have ever heard. Somewhere in between psychedelic music and experimental drones. If you like Lustmord or Attestupa then this one is for you!

Also experimental but much more easy listening is "The Blind Spot" by Rosa Ensemble from the Netherlands. This album, which they call themselves their ambient album, was already released in 2006 on their own Bonte Koe Records label. It is being re-released now by Dying Giraffe Recordings.

Indeed this is an ambient album but very much unlike the ones you have probably heard before. Ambient has become a fixed genre and has moved mostly out of the art music world into pop territory where it is produced by people with laptops. "The Blind Spot" is nothing like that. First of all as the music is performed with real instruments, with electronics on the side, and second also because of the diversity in sounds and moods on this album.

Mostly the mood is also quite light on this album while for a large part ambient tends to be rather dark or at least bleak these days. The pieces range from soundscapes in the tradition of minimal music to what you might call experimental chamber music.

If you like to listen to ambient I really recommend to try this album for a change. I am quite sure you will be suprised... in a pleasant way...

woensdag 20 juli 2011

review: Moon Gangs, Jonas Reinhardt, Mist

Next to a revival of synth sounds from the 1980's there is also a whole world of retro psychedelic sounds that refer to the originals of the 1960's and 1970's. While the neo 1960's bands mostly are pop / rock orientated, like for example Woods and Crystal Stilts, the retro 1970's acts take their cue from the psychedelic synth patterns of Klaus Schulze and friends.

This Berliner Schule was centered around Klaus Schulze and the projects (Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel and solo) he was involved with. Often the music was called Krautrock but this scene is also known under another, and better, name: Kosmische Scene.

While some bands and musicians had a definitely pop / rock background (Klaus Schuleze being one of them) there were many with a link to the world of classical/ art music (like Manuel Göttsching and of course Can).

Also today in this field of music you can hear and categorize the projects this way... either being more related to this art music world or very obviously being more of a pop music thing. This is not necessarily done on basis of the background of the musicians. I would rather claim the music itself tells it all.

For example take the debut tape by Moon Gangs. You get two long tracks called "Sea" and "Sky". Lush swirling synth patterns surround you in a way Klaus Schulze could have done it... or the way Klaus Schulze did this. About 40 years ago. Do not take me wrong... I love this tape by Moon Gangs. It is perfect. If want to relax and trip away a bit on mellow, soothing and friendly trance indulging tunes you do not need to look futher. But... it is very close to the original. Nothing new to be found here.

Then there is a new Jonas Reinhardt album called 'Music For The Tactile Dome', a title referring a bit to Brian Eno of course. Their last album was a bit more band orienated or even space rock in a way. This new record is more ambient and yes more Berliner Schule so to say. Funny detail is that the USA based band recorded this album in Berlin... So the ghost of the past did find its way into the machines and comes out in the spacey psychedelic tracks.

Still Jonas Reinhardt does not sound as close to the originals as Moon Gang does. Also the music is more complex at times. While Moon Gangs serves long minimalistic subtle drones of synth sounds, Jonas Reinhardt creates more evolving structures with new sounds and textures popping in from time to time. Still the overal structures are repetitive enough to catch your brainwaves and get you hooked for a trippy ride.

Again more minimalistic but also in a very different way is the album 'House' by Mist, which is their second album. This record I would claim leaves for the biggest part the pop and rock world behind... as this is much more Minimal Music in the sense of the contemporary classical music style. Think Terry Riley and think Steve Reich for example.

Mist composed seven tracks, pressed on a 2LP set, that are built around long repetitive pieces with subtle shifts and changes. These are not just minimalistic pieces of analogue synthesizers, but well considered compositions. Some tracks have that Berliner Schule touch maybe... but some others are definitely much closer to the world of art music / contemporary classical music. All this without being too academic or highbrow.

In the end I would recommend all three of the release as all are truly excellent in their own way... Happy tripping!

maandag 11 juli 2011

Enfant Terrible interview in N-SPHERE July 2011 edition

The following article was published in N-SPHERE July 2011 issue. Interview by Diana Daia.

Hallo, Martijn, and welcome to the Spheres. This is the first interview which, in a sense, focuses on meta-levels: writing about/asking people who are involved in the writing and creative process as well, namely your work with the Dutch label Enfant Terrible.

To get us started, a first question on the obvious – the choice for the name of the label. Why and how was that idea triggered? Right now, I have Jean Cocteau‘s novel in mind, which plays with themes such as isolation and alienation. Do you believe we could talk about those concepts in relation to the minimal wave/power electronics scene as well?

The name does of course goes back to Cocteau’s novel. But I do not think its themes has only a relation with the minimal electronics and power electronics subgenres. I think these themes are to be found in many music styles and genres that have any real content. Also all real art will reveal these themes… next to some other universal themes.

Anyway, the name I came up with mostly as I already knew back then that I can be a pain the ass to many people… a sophisticated pain in the ass, but still a pain in the ass.

I have my own ideas about how things should be done and why. I can and I will always articulate what I do and why I do it that way. In relation to this I will also always speak out my ideas and thoughts on what I come across in this world… among this the works of others.

Taking this position also means not everybody will be your friend as all outspoken people make some enemies along the way… for various reasons… So in the end the name refers to me and how I look upon the world and take my position in this world.

When did Enfant Terrible come into being and what led to its birth? Is it in a sense a response to events and bands from the Netherlands nowadays?

I started my activities as a logical step from writing reviews, DJ’ing and organizing parties and concerts. The label was founded in 2004 and evolved into a platform with next to the label, mail-order and live events also a weblog, a radio show and a paper journal. Some of these activities I do in collaboration with others.

When I started I was not at all focused on the contemporary Dutch music scene. My interests were electronic music in the broadest sense. Starting with the second record I put for a part the focus on forgotten, or at least obscure, Dutch electronic music from the early 1980’s. This second release was a compilation LP with music from the Dutch cult 1980’s tape label Trumpett. Even though I was not the first to re-release these kind of minimal electronic sounds this record somehow seems to have set a trend. Many labels followed and still it seems like the last few years saw a few new labels every year who re-release this kind of 1980’s music.

My other focus has always been contemporary artist in the field of electronic music. The fourth release on Enfant Terrible was a compilation LP entitled Electronic Renaissance. This record is seen by many people as the first record that brought together the scene of contemporary musicians who work in the tradition of minimal electronics of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Through the years some contemporary Dutch artists appeared on my label, mostly on the compilations, but only in 2009 I decided to give extra attention to new Dutch talents.

This is an inner driven sense that something needs to be done… as there are very good musicians in my country whom deserve some attention. At the same time it makes a stand against the recycle culture with its endless streams of records with so called lost gems from the 1980’s. In my opinion only very few of these releases are in fact lost gems. I focus on the here and now… on the local and the contemporary instead of dwelling in the past and trying to create obscure stars from archives around the world that never saw the light before for obvious reasons…

Next to that these musicians from the 1980’s have had their moment in my opinion… now is the time for these contemporary artists to get the credits and attention. So I am very happy to work with them and to be able to release their music and give them some occasions to perform live.

I found it interesting how Enfant Terrible manages to comprise so many things, part of them which you’ve just mentioned. Almost like a Gesamtkunstwerk. Any plans for adding/ aligning more things to the current formula?

Yes, I am always dreaming, thinking and planning. Around July a new aspect of Enfant Terrible will appear. Also I am breeding and writing on a much bigger plan. This is still a research project right now to see if this is possible. If not I will rewrite it and look for a different way to realize this next dream.

What could you tell us about the current radio show you’re hosting at Intergalactic FM. How was it received?

Well… it is funny… I wanted to do a radio show for a long time. One in the tradition of the 1980’s shows RadioNome and Spleen. Meaning with DJ sets and live acts to showcase music not heard everywhere. When I met Andreas (Lesbian Mouseclicks) and Peter (Sololust) one of the things that were discussed first was also their wish for some time to do radio shows.

So I contacted I-F through Rude66. Rude66 is doing my mastering for the record releases. He has a radio show for a long time on IFM and has been a working with I-F also for a long time. The idea was received with enthusiasm and so we started to plan it.

For us the radio show is a playground. We do not aim to bring professional radio. Our aim is to have fun ourselves and in the meantime showcase music not heard (enough) through contemporary live acts in the studio and DJ’ed music.

The reception until now is very good. Also the archive with all past shows available on demand works perfect. I hear from people around the world they replay the old shows at work and at home. That is great to hear. Like with all activities I am involved in there has to be an audience… otherwise it is not worth doing it… for some activities an audience is easier to find then for other activities. The radio shows seems to be doing just right without too many efforts from me to promote it. That is great!

How do you plan the shows and what do you usually aim to include? Are you also interested in doing live interviews with musicians or having guests who bring along their playlists as well?

The shows are planned quite close before the broadcast date most of the time. We always have one live act and two DJ sets. I am resident DJ so I will do a DJ set very show. For the second DJ set we have some people rotating, and if we think of somebody nice fitting that specific night with that specific live act we ask that person.

We do not do much talking during the show as we aim to let the music speak. There are two hours per show and we want them filled with music. So next to some short announcements we serve music only.

You mentioned that you also re-release lost material from the old days. Could we draw a line between new/old when it comes to electronic music or should we talk about it more along the lines of a continuum from the 80s onwards?

I recently explained in an interview that I like to work with musicians who work in the tradition of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s post-punk and experimental new wave music styles. Today this is often narrowed down to “minimal wave”, but that is a style I do not recognize at all. For me there is a style called minimal electronics not a style called minimal wave.

Anyway, the contemporary artists I work with are musicians who not just copy the music from the old days. They take this as inspiration and maybe as a starting point from where they take off. Copy cat bands who just play the old style I am not interested in. The music has to be fresh, daring and recognizable as being a product of this world and age. Even though most of the time the traces of the music from the old days are there to be found.

You could also call this citation. Like in a scientific publication. Or you can call it a reference like you can also trace this back in all good art no matter if that is a painting or a theatre play. All good art shows it roots and inspiration and is building on that tradition. That way you become part of a certain tradition, keep it alive, refresh it and enrich it.

To my mind, I think it is a very fragmented musical area altogether, of course depending on where one is based as well. In some areas minimal wave was almost inexistent even in the 80s (I have Romania in mind now), how was/is it for the Netherlands?

I am too young to know how it really was in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. But of course I know people who were playing in the bands back then, were running labels, made magazines and did radio shows. In this case I am talking about the bands, labels, magazines and radio shows that have influenced my own current activities.

From these people I know that there was something going one. But it is hard to judge if this was really bigger back then as it is nowadays. Some visited my nights in the past and they said my nights had the same atmosphere as the parties back then. So I guess it has always been and always be a specific niche for a specific audience.

Depending on the current fashion and hype some more or some less people will have interest in this type of music. But if you keep it real and stick to the true attitude the audience will be small… always.

I have noticed a resurgence with re-releases as well, and also a growing trend for both tapes and vinyls. What do you think has led to that?

Vinyls are a different story as tapes. Vinyl is simply a superior product to a CD. Or… it is a product and a CD is not a true product. Also the twist you can give to a vinyl record to enhance the experience around it is not to be compared to the restrictions of the CD format.

When it comes to tapes it is something really different. Tapes have been the first format to make the music industry more democratic so to speak. You can make tapes cheaply in a professional way or even very cheaply at home. Later the CD-R took over the tape scene a bit. But now tapes seem to be back and I can only say for myself that this is as tapes are simply much more charming and are a perfect format to enhance into a real object instead of just a format to release music on.

For both formats it is true they are gaining new fans in certain music scenes as a reaction against mp3 releases and all the download platforms. Both formats ask for more commitment and effort from the listener. This when it comes to getting a copy as they are not easily to obtain everywhere, but only through specific channels. But also when it comes to listening. You need to do more to listen to a vinyl record as push a button on your IPod or computer. For tapes it is also evident that in some parts of the world it is very hard to get a tape player today.

It’s pretty straightforward that Enfant Terrible is opting for vinyl instead of CDs or online mp3 releases. Why that decision and would you give a “big no“ to the latter? If yes/no – why?

I released one CD. It was an experiment to see if I could make a good product with that format. Only partly this was successful for me. So do not expect another CD soon on my label.

As for mp3 releases… I do not even consider that as a release… it is nothing… But if bands I work with want to spread their music I am okay on one condition… and that is that the music is for free. As I do consider mp3’s anything at all it would make no sense to ask money for it.

I did this with Kim Ki O. Their album appeared on their website a few months after the vinyl release came out, and is there available for free downloads. They put all their music for free on their website as mp3 download. So it made sense to do this also for the vinyl we did together.

Do you think that preference also makes distribution more restrictive? One advantage would be that it definitely brings along a sense of identity in the buyers, even if that identity mostly comes from the type of releases.

In the case of Enfant Terrible I work with a network of independent shops and mail-order who sell my releases. As I do not release any well known acts and the music I release is not for a general consumption minded audience I have nothing to do with bigger distributors. But… more important I never have worked with them for a much more important reason.

The music I release is for the real collectors, the true lovers and the authentic connoisseurs of music. If I would work with bigger distributors the records would end up in chain store record shops or at the best in so called “specialized” record stores. These stores only sell music to people who still read the most popular magazines and go to the regular hip clubs and festivals. That is not my world and these people are not the people interested in, or let alone aware of, the music world I am active in.

So, the network I mentioned above is the way I distribute my releases. Every single record goes through my hands and I am in direct contact with all shop owners. Which I like and which I value a lot. I am also very happy and grateful these shops sell my records as they are able to bring this music to the right people. This as they know their customers.

When it comes to identity I guess not the records themselves, or the type of releases, is mostly responsible for this. I am quite sure the Enfant Terrible trademark so to speak does this. Even though I am not here to please anybody with my releases… meaning I release whatever I like myself no matter what… still people know that Enfant Terrible stands for quality music and quality products.

If you are an open minded music lover you maybe like all my releases… and if you prefer the more specific minimal electronics releases you maybe like about half of my output but in the end it is all typical Enfant Terrible… and I am here to surprise people and try to take them with me on this trip… and I think that is an identity some people at last can relate to…

I find it paradoxical that, at least with most “collectors“ I meet, no matter how hardcore is their aversion towards digital releases, most listen to mp3s in parallel to purchasing material. Probably because it is sometimes realistically faster to press play on your computer rather than going through the archive to find a specific album/track. My question hence is: do you think those two can happily co-exist or are we going more in the direction of one instead of the other?

Oh, in the end both will stay… vinyl will stay forever and digital music is here to stay as well. For me personal I do not care if people like to listen to digital formats because it is easy. If they want to, why not? Who am I to tell them not to?
Also I am convinced that a good quality product will always find its way to people. So if these people like the vinyl for their collection but like to listen to the music in a digital way when preparing their diner or cleaning their house… why not?

Only I will not start to include stupid mp3 download coupons as so many labels do nowadays. As said if bands I work with want the music to be available digital we will look for a way to get this available for free. So also if you do not buy the vinyl first. Besides this I am quite sure one or two or more illegal peer-to-peer networks will host the ripped vinyls for me.

As you rightfully said, this constant search for all “underground“/“obscure“” releases inevitably brings along a lot of redundant material as well. I second your thoughts about focusing on new artists, especially as a label. What Dutch acts have raised your attention these years, in particularly?

At this moment there are so many great bands in The Netherlands. I am really enthusiastic about this. The Kamp Holland compilation started as a project to map this current field of contemporary acts… of course from my point of view and with a focus on electronic music.

There are so many acts I like right now… just tune in to the Radio Resistencia radio shows we do and you will hear every month a new live act. Until now most have been from Holland. We will keep it that way.
Here are four acts to name just a few I really like, without being nasty to other artists I am working with:

• Sololust, as he is able to create both minimal techno like elektro pieces just as easy as perfect synthpop or almost ambient like dark elektro. I am sure more people will start to hear the quality in his work after we have released more and we have done more live shows.

• Distel, simply another of those of the few true talents in contemporary (electronic) music. Just listen to Distel and his other project Hadewych. If you as a musician are able to do both that then you have real talent!

• Neurobit, he is one of those people who not just makes music but knows what he is doing. Even though his music can be considered pop music it is related to the Minimal Music in the tradition of Steve Reich and Terry Riley. He is an academic turned on pop music. Also he is one of those people who is not limited to one trick. With Rioteer he produces harsh industrial breakcore with a sound of its own. Next to that he is also involved in a performance group. More of Neurobit and the other projects he is involved in is talked about, imagined and being planned to appear on Enfant Terrible.

• Neugeborene Nachtmusik, the mastermind behind Milligram Retreat. He is working hard to get his solo act together for live sets. Next to that we are working on music being released on Enfant Terrible. Two amazing psychedelic dark elektro-wave tracks are already selected for a special project for the near future.

Let’s stop a bit at the Kamp Holland compilation, described as an “overview of the current Dutch electronic independent scene“. 16 bands..ranging from minimal wave to ganz experimental tracks, not an easy task to gather all those artists together. How did the preparation and selection process take place?

I always start all my compilation with a rather fixed idea and theme and from there on I start asking artists if they like to participate. The problem I have with most compilations is that there is no real idea behind. They are just a collection songs, mostly in one style and genre and often even with leftovers from bands and with no cohesion between the different tracks. There is no story told. There is no trip to tune in to…

So I take great care to make my compilations as an experience both in new talents as in sounds and in the flow you tap into. It has happened before that there are great tracks I have left out as they did not fit in with the rest of the selection or my idea for that specific compilation. I am sure people recognize the end result of this as feedback on my compilations have always been that they are really concept records, and not a mere collection of songs, but without being focused on one single style or genre.

I really like the cover: a field of white tulips. “Emblematic“ in a sense for Holland, but also a bit ironic/“in your face“, especially since we’re talking about independent artists“ who detach from those frameworks altogether. Why did you find that choice of cover fitting for this compilation?

Hahaha, sorry but those are not tulips. Please have a second look. Also if you investigate the cover a bit more and maybe try to find out a bit more about Dutch politics you will start to recognize the meaning of the sleeve and the title. I am not going to give this away, sorry.

Enfant Terrible also has an interesting logo, any concept behind that? Who is responsible for the graphical part for the label?

Everything I do has a concept and has meaning. There is already too much nonsense in this world. But as with the Kamp Holland sleeve I am not giving away everything. I like people to get involved and find out things for themselves. That is part of the game I play.

But I can tell more about the design part for Enfant Terrible. In the early phase I worked with my sister next to Zivago. Zivago has taken over the design part since years, and only seldom a record is released he is not involved with. The Hex Grammofoonplaten sublabel is an exception as he has until now done nothing for these releases. For some records he is only responsible for the lay-out but most are also designed by him.

He is one of the musicians from Ende Shneafliet from the Dutch 1980’s music scene and he is a real music lover. Due to this he always understands very well what I want. Because he is involved in Enfant Terrible for such a long time he is also capable of creating concepts with only a few words from me on a future record. Which is great and saves me from spelling out everything and it also means the mood and feel of the artwork will fit the Enfant Terrible trademark.

Concerning the artwork of the releases, is it generally a collaboration between the artists and the label or something that relies on the ideas of the musicians exclusively?

The artwork is always a collaboration as I have rather fixed ideas myself what I want and don’t want. I am open for proposals and musicians can send in elements to work with. Often this works out fine. Also I always go for an end result both the musicians and I are happy with. So even though I have fixed ideas about the design of my records it is a rather democratic process.

You are right saying that refreshing and enriching a tradition are part of a musician’s tasks now. What motivates artistic expression then and which would be the new challenges one has to face in that sense?

The real challenge for every artist or creative agency that produces artistic output, like a label, is to always go further and at the same time to stay yourself. What you see is that many artists and labels are good in one thing only. They go for that and market that. One single style or genre becomes their trademark.
I understand this from a commercial point of view as the mass of the people out there is an audience that needs and wants to know what they can expect. Many people claim to have a broad interest in music, arts and the world around them. But in the end they like to know what they get. They want to feel secure in their own little world. Maybe also they are not educated enough or not capable for other reasons to explore new things.

For any real artist or creative agency the challenge is to go beyond and continuously provide new fresh content, create new exciting traces to follow and start new daring stories. This new content should be linked to the repertoire already put out, but at the same time needs to provide enough new angles to be fresh and daring.

I know this is not the game for everybody to play and not a trip everybody is able to provide as a setting for their audience. Let alone that everybody can create an audience around them to follow such a trip. So it a real challenge to do this. It asks a lot from all involved. I hope I succeed in this… but I know that at least do my best to archive this.

It is true that the whole cultural and economical context differs from 30 years ago, but is everything more or less “solved“ and without problems now? What are, in turn, the challenges for an independent level?

Of course the cultural and economical context is different now. The world has changed a lot. But I do not understand what you mean with “solved”.

I think in a way it has become harder for independent cultural agents and creative agencies. One example says it all. The people behind Suction Records told me recently their situation. This label is the home of Solvent and Lowfish and was part of the first wave of IDM music and second wave of minimal elektro. They started in the mid-nineties and at their heyday they sold about two to three thousand copies of their releases. They recently started again after a break of a few years. Their first release was a CD by Lowfish in an edition of only 250 copies. It was released a few months ago back in 2010 and is still not sold out.

What do I need to say more? The challenge is for all activities, not matter if this is a live event or a physical product like a record or CD, to find an audience that wants to get involved and still values these artistic outputs so they want to pay a little money for it.

The world has changed and people have changed. All is there available within second by a few clicks on a mouse button or a touch screen… and for free. People seem to have lost all notions of value and decency towards artistic products. It has to be easy and fast. They do not want to pay real attention… all should be a commodity product that asks no commitment and no involvement. So the challenge is to create quality products that need commitment and involvement and with those products attract and built an audience that are still interested in, and/or capable to, letting loose the conditions of modern life and become part of the experience you set out for them.

Please visit the N-Sphere site to read the full webzine here...

donderdag 7 juli 2011

review: Antlers Mulm - The Age Of Efficieny

I am quite sure I have said this before... the best minimal electronics is done by people who do not make this music because of this style but simply as a result of their way of working.

Antlers Mulm is not at all a name many people will come up with when talking about minimal electronics... but in the end this project by Hans Johm is just that. And... even better as Antlers Mulm treats us with some of the best minimal electronics around with this new album entitled 'The Age Of Efficiency'.

What makes the music so good is that Antlers Mulm combines in a very natural way elements of synth music, industrial and neo folk. Musically this is like the dark side of minimal synth. You hear the dark mood coming in from some neo folk hooks. The industrial influences are harder to find on this new album but if you are familiar with the older work of Antlers Mulm you can hear where all of this is coming from. Also the design shows the tradition this music is situated in.

'The Age Of Efficiency' is somewhere in between some of the poppier stuff Antlers Mulm has done... like the track on the 'Radio Resistencia' compilation... and the more ambient orientated pieces to be found for example on his previous album 'Of Withered Sparks'. In bringing these worlds more together on this new album the musician has created very powerful songs and more important a true style of his own... even more as before...

The minimalism of Suicide is hidden in the repetitive basslines. This combined with eerie minimal synth sounds, neo-romantic and at times folky melodies and vocals delivered in a sort of spoken word way results in songs both soothing and disturbing. Impressive!

Also in another way this album is impressive. The complete album consists of an LP, a one sided LP and a two track cd. One track on this cd is done together with Frank Machau known from neo folk band Orplid. This massive album is still strong and attractive to listen to. Which is an achievement... as often less is more...

'The Age Of Efficiency' is released on the label Sonderübertragung! which is run by Hans Johm himself. The release comes in an edition of 197 hand numbered copies. So if you want to hear one of the best "minimal synth" albums of this year you should be quick...

zondag 19 juni 2011

I wait your answer, Jérôme Fontan.

Shocked. I am shocked when I get a phone call from Bran from France… things are not good with Jérôme… most likely he has passed away… the next day this is confirmed. Jérôme had a cardiac arrest on friday evening (17 June 2011) and the reanimation came too late…

Most people in our music world will know Jérôme as the musician behind the elektro act Porn.Darsteller. Since 2000 he released some of the best elektro music around on the now defunct Invasion Planète label. With Porn.Darsteller he produced a body of work not still only relevant to date, but also influential when it comes to style, references used and image. Porn.Darsteller was erotic elektro with a pornographic touch, but this never was done in a cheap or easy way but always decadent and stylish.

We first met in Amsterdam in 2003 when I got the Invasion Planète crew to perform there at a festival. Porn.darsteller was always an important part of the label, next to Le Syndicat Electronique and It & My Computer, so Jérôme came over to perform live. Later on we met two more times when I set up other concert nights for the Invasion Planète crew in Holland.

I remember best the night we did in Rotterdam. Only very few people came to see these concerts then but the live performances were great. The best I think of the three times we did shows in Holland together. Also I remember we drank too much Leffe beers and drove back to Utrecht afterwards, where I lived at that time, to sleep at my place. The next day we had talks over breakfast, listened to some music and had a nice walk in the city… with me at least trying to get rid off a hangover from too much beers. They had to drive back more then 1000 km’s later that day to get back home.

Porn.Darsteller collaborated on two releases I put out in the early phase of my Enfant Terrible label. In 2005 he contributed an absolute stunning remake of the classic track ‘Covergirl’ by Dutch cult elektro pop legend The Actor. This track was released on the third record I put out. The next year I was blown away and got boosebumps when a cd arrived with his track ‘L’Ingénue’ for the first compilation I was working on.

This record became “Electronic Renaissance” and opened with this track by Porn.Darsteller. I knew this track already from his live sets and for me this record opening with this track was, and still is, more perfect as perfect could be.

Then when Invasion Planète stopped there was no contact for some time. It was an odd period for many people involved I guess but that is also a different story… probably one which will never be told. Anyway… a little more than two years ago I got an e-mail message… Jérôme wrote me that he had been following my label work and that his project Porn.Darsteller had come to and end and the album he was doing for Invasion Planète was cancelled.

Also he wrote me about the soundtrack he had done for an old silent Spanish film from 1929, entitled “El Sexto Sentido” (The Sixth Sense). And… he first mentioned his new project La Mort De L’Hippocampe. From there on the correspondence continued and he sent me the first recordings by La Mort De L’Hippocampe and the “El Sexto Sentido” with his soundtrack on DVD.

The first demo was a collection of tracks with some hints to elektro but rather industrial and experimental. Still this could be seen best as a sort of a product from a transitory phase. Even more as a few months later I got a message he had finished new pieces and when I got these I was instantly impressed by the sheer quality and originality of this work. He had tapped into a truly new world of music and art now.

This work consisted of two long tracks that evolved into different phases. Some parts where pure electronic music, but of the experimental kind. Other parts also incorporated medieval instruments and spoken word. As I was very enthusiastic I wrote Jérôme I was more than interested to make this into a record release with him. He liked the idea so we started to make plans.

In the meantime of course he could not stop being creative and he was always working on new music and he also set up a performance group around La Mort De L’Hippocampe which involved other artists as well.

Also a complete new work was written and recorded. Another two long pieces of experimental electronic music with some strange cabaret like influences in one part and moving in and out of phases of (un)certain textures. The whole of sound and structure made up for what could be called a piece of contemporary art music. This as it has very little to do with pop music in any possible way.

After some discussion we decided to make this the first release for La Mort De L’Hippocampe. Again Jérôme had been busy with formulating plans and making ideas real… he was starting a record label for his own called Verbascripta. We decided to make the planned release a collaboration of his new label and my Enfant Terrible label. Also we talked about this collaboration as a good way of working together… also for possible future projects.

We were both very enthusiastic about this all… both our activities and interests seemed to mix well and there were more then enough ways to work together and still do our own things as well. The record was fully in progress and we were working hard on getting all done for the planned release…

I wrote him on the status and all last Thursday… not sure he ever read my message… as Saturday Bran, a close friend of Jérôme, called me…

Jérôme, you will be missed… for your work and for your enthusiasm… and of course as a person…

So many plans were lying around and I had hoped to do so much more together… I had hoped to meet again later this year as we were talking about... I have always loved your work and I have always valued your opinion… don’t worry La Mort De L’Hippocampe will be released as discussed and planned… so once more people can hear the genius of your work and how you have evolved throughout the years… it is rare gift the talent you have…

I stop here… with the phrase you always ended your writings with to me…

I wait your answer.


zaterdag 18 juni 2011

Flexipop: disposable pop or recycle art?

The article below was already published in slightly different versions, but on paper only, in the Dutch version of Vice Magazine (vol. 5, issue 9) and in Traces (issue 1).

Flexipop: disposable pop or recycle art?

Most people will only be able to guess what Flexipop is. For a few obsessive nerdy music fans like myself it is a cultural standard, a world of its own, or even THE world. Well here is a short lesson into the history of cheap produced minimalistic new wave pop music and how some people today try to turn it into a hype to cash in on it.

The name Flexipop is not a real genre name as it comes from an UK magazine that ran for two years from 1980 onwards. Each edition came with flexible 7 inch record. You know vinyl but not regular vinyl as you could use it as a Frisbee and even bend it and fold it and if it wasn’t damaged that bad it still would play.
Anyway, the focus of Flexipop and the discs was on new wave music. Many well known bands like The Cure, Soft Cell and Depeche Mode contributed tracks for a flexidisc, often the tracks where exclusive recorded. The Dutch counterpart was called Vinyl magazine and focused as they called it themselves on Modern Music. Basically this meant more experimental and obscure stuff from the counterculture and the then real existent underground. The flexidiscs that came along with Vinyl featured mostly these less accessible sounds of the new wave genre with tracks from bands like Tox Modell, Schleimer K and Mecano.

Think cheap, minimalistic and weird electronic pieces and unpolished and raw post-punk guitar stuff. During the 1990’s when all the world was listening to Grunge one music maniac started to make bootleg cd-r compilations entitled A Tribute To Flexipop and later followed by The Return Of Flexipop and None Night Of Flexipop next to some other titles referring to the same tradition. A total for more then fifty cd-r’s where compiled. All featuring something between twelve to twenty tracks per disc. Well that is what I call a repertoire! This was done not for profit but for fun only and to keep this music tradition alive.

These discs feature a fantastic world of music with tracks from tape releases, a-side but mostly b-sides from hard to find 7 inches and tracks from obscure independent vinyl releases. During the years when nobody listened to this stuff the name minimal electronics or minimal synth became some sort of genre definition for this type of 80's minimalistic synth-punk new wave music. Many bands featured found it an honor to be on this series, as back in the days but even more at that time only few people showed interest in their music.

Bit by bit a real cult following began to take shape. During the late 90’s this evolved into a new scene of musicians and labels producing and releasing new music in this stylistic tradition. Next to that some labels were founded that only started to re-release some of the old music. Mostly music that was never put to vinyl before. Some of this was bootleg stuff as not all the musicians that released their music on cassette tapes in the 80’s could be traced down straight away. Remember this was before the myspace, facebook and linked-in era.

Artists like Skanfrom, Bakterielle Infektion, Solvent, Lowfish and of course Le Syndicat Electronique paved the way for many artists to follow, just as labels as Genetic Music, ADSR, Invasion Planete, Suction, Was Soll Das Schallplatten and Kernkrach did their part in spreading the music to a small loyal fanbase. At the same time electro had a revival. Contemporary electro acts like I-F, Legowelt, Luke Eargoggle and in a way also Rude66 helped to shape the new electro scene, even though they had been active already since some years . Although sharing some esthetics and style elements the two scenes did not always meet each other straight away but in the end musicians, labels and audience began to mix.

The recognition of this Flexipop music as an important root for electronic pop music, even though still only for the well informed, give way to a second wave of labels and musicians to take their cue and inspiration from this style.
Social media made it easy to find the old cult heroes and ask their clearance for releasing archive music from the past. In the same way internet made it possible to reach a worldwide audience. While most labels work in the spirit of the old underground, as in a Do It Yourself attitude towards producing, promoting and distributing the music, some seem to see some cash in it.

For some years Peer -to-peer networks like Soulseek already make the Flexipop compilation cd-r’s available to everybody for free, like they possible should. But, today you can also buy compilations of these compilations on vinyl, cd and yes in digital format to pay for, from various labels. Every country some to have a Flexipop re-issue label today and it seems like every month there is a new label born which is doing the same thing.

I agree that some of this music has cultural value and not only because I am an obsessive music nerd in love with this music. I agree this music should be available. I agree some labels are needed to release this music on vinyl for the first time. But, there is a true overkill. There is a reason some of this music never made it to a larger audience as the die-hard cult following from the 80’s and 90’s. Not all of it is that good. It has cult value for sure, but not all of this music has cultural value. It seems not all labels are gifted with selective capacities or with the true blood of this counterculture music tradition.
So for the curious people who are still not sure whether this is simply disposable pop music are true art with meaning and value worth to be recycled I advice to login at Soulseek and download the original Flexipop cd-r’s, have nights of fun with the music and found out what gems these compilations hold for you. Then you can always get the contemporary vinyl productions with the songs that touch you in the end and do not need to spend hard cash on dozens of compilations of compilations. Also it should be in the true nature of any real music fan to be willing to dive into a style or genre and pick the few things that appeal to you and go on from there… and tracing the original releases in the end…


zondag 29 mei 2011

review: Various Artists - Vanity Records / Finest Selection, 1978 to 1981

I am not a fan of bootleg's... I almost never buy them and I never will sell them in my webshop... but here is a record that is an exception. I will still not sell it in my webshop but it deserves to be mentioned. Also this bootleg is for a part justified as all music concerned is very hard to get... if not impossible. Next to that most artists will be very hard to trace down.

What we are dealing with here is a compilation around the well known but obscure Vanity Records label. This Japanese label was active between 1978 and 1981 and released ten albums, some singles, one compilation album and some cassettes and flexi discs. The music released on Vanity Records was experimental, avant-garde, proto elektro/techno among some other noises... often with a typical Japanese twist.

On this LP are twelve tracks by twelve artists. The liner notes are in bad English, but the tracklisting states the origin of all the music. But more imnportant it is a real trip into some excellent minimal and experimental music.

What to think of the track by Dada for example?! A deep scary bass drum is the basis on top of which some Pink Floyd like guitar improvisations are played... mind blowing! Equally good but very much post-punk is the Mad Tea Party piece. A track Joy Division or The Cure could have done when on a trip. A twisted reggae tune is served by RNA Organism and a strange and dark soundscape is delivered by Arbeit.

Then I did not mention yet a Japanse cover of a Joy Division track by Morio Agata, or a piece of Kraftwerk like minimal proto elektro by Normal Brain or the outstanding weird but scary minimal music tune by Tolerance or or or...

If you need more references... well I could name two of my favorite 1980's band to give an idea of what to expect... think Alesia Cosmos and think Ptose... if you dig those bands you will love this compilation.

While the originals are almost impossible find, or if you find a good copy you will need to pay a few hundred euros for it, I advice to pick up a copy of this LP now... or be sorry later...

zondag 8 mei 2011

review: Woud / Bebe Fang

Samling is a small label from Holland and has released up till now five releases. Next to three cd-r's and one tape they also published a book. The second and the latest release are both related to the Dutch band Eklin which I wrote about earlier on this blog.

The latest release is a cd-r by Woud. The cd-r itself comes in a small plastic bag with a fold out poster on A3 format with a nice black and white drawing by the musician himself. Woud is the bassplayer of Eklin and on this debut release he serves the listener three tracks of trippy ambient. Opening track 'Fire' is the most dark track and could be a ambient piece by Burzum... if he was on a happy trip. This as Woud never gets too dark... his ambient structures are more spacey and relax and peaceful instead of dark and mean.

Listening more and more to the disc and to the other two tracks the music goes more and more into a sort of ambient pop or dream pop style. With this music you do not need to take any drugs to start floating... the soft sounds, tranquil vocals and soothing melodies are all you need. And... it is a happy trip for sure!

Released earlier but still available and even more interesting as Woud is Bebe Fang. This is a duo with another Eklin member behind the controls. Bebe Fang is much more ritualistic as Woud, almost becoming some sort of folk music. This debut tape with five tracks feels like an obscure field recording from the heart of old Europe, or Scandinavia.

In away this could have fitted on the great Fonal label as it is freaky and experimental and as said folky in a weird way. The pieces without rhythms are more ambient like... in away as those of Woud but darker and more mysterious. When the rhythms come in the music truly becomes ritualistic and shamanistic. It works the same way into your system as some of the Zola Jesus pieces, but Bebe Fang sounds more authenthic... and again as said more like an obscure field recording as contemporary pop music. Really amazing and mind blowing... it gives me shivers and I love it... highly addictive!

Both releases are very limited... the cd-r of Woud is released only in an edition of 50 copies and the Bebe Fang tape comes in an edition of 100 copies. You can get both releases at the Enfant Terrible webshop here...

zaterdag 16 april 2011

review: 7 inch releases update

The last few months quite some nice 7 inches were released in the minimal electronics and synth wave styles. For example Kernkrach hit back with an truly great new release by Bloodygrave & Die Lust. This duo released their 7 inch with four tracks in what you could call that typical Kernkrach style: lo-fi minimal electronics with a crazy and playful NDW twist. The music is poppy only because the tracks are catchy. As when it comes to the music itself it is quite noisy stuff and thus probably only for lovers of this style. If this was done in the 1980's on cassette it would have fitted the WSDP catalogue as well. Excellent packaging also... as most of the time with Kernkach releases.

Somewhat in the same style comes a new collaboration between Matthias Schuster (Im Namen Des Volkes, Bal Paré) and Malte Steiner (Konform, Notstandskomitee). Under the alias Akustikkoppler they recently releases a four track EP 7 inch on the always nice NLW label. If you know the work of the musicians the result will not come as a surprise: a mix of the structured elektro from Steiner mixed with the more new wave inspired moods of Schuster. But... it blends perfectly and the four tracks are careful shapes minimal elektro hits. From the melancholy 'Fernmündlich" to the rather noisy and dark "Kabelsalat" it all works for me. Excellent!!

Much more synth pop and new wave inspired when it comes to sounds and structures is the debut by Cosmic Hula Radiators. Released on the new F.K.K.-Musik label comes this two track 7 inch limited to only 150 copies. The A-Side ('Planquadrat') is an uptempo track and will work for sure on the selected dancefloors around the world. It is a very well done German sung synth pop track with a lovely analogue sound. So catchy and poppy but not slick! The B-Side ('Katapultstart') is less suitable for the dancefloor I guess and a bit more classic elektro pop with the vocoder vocals and more pounding beats and pulsating bass line. Curious what else will be released by this label and if Hula Cosmic Radiators can keep up this level of quality with their next release.

From the lovely EE Tapes label from Belgium comes a nice 7 inch compilation with music from the Insane Music label from the 1980's. Yes... another Insane Music compilation... apparently there is still lots of music in the archives as this 7 inch is smashing! Pseudo Code deliver a track in their freaky post-punk style. And there is Human Dance with the great dancefloor track 'Hex!'. A funny and melancholy instrumental synth pop tune. Bene Gesserit is present with two tracks and M.A.L. and Subject both contributed one track. Well in the end all of this is Alain Neffe with help from some people here and there. Alain also compiled this EP himself, so it is the master himself at work here. One of the better re-issue's lately...

Back to the present day and to the master of 8 bit minimal music: Neurobit. I am bit cheating here as this record is an 8 inch not a 7 inch... well it is still a small gem... This is the second 8 inch released by the musician himself on the Vatican Analog label he is involved in. This one is more melodic and tranquil as the first one. In a way this 8 inch is like a perfect dessert after you have consumed the Neurobit 7 inch released on Enfant Terrible as main dish. Playful sounds and trippy pulses take you away into another world... a soft and nice and friendly place... excellent and psychedelic in the same way as the music by Terry Riley.

All of the above releases are for sale in the Enfant Terrible webshop here...

woensdag 23 maart 2011

interview Enfant Terrible with Blackout Musique

Below is an interview with me done by Blackout Musique. As the Canadian Blackout Musiqe webzine publishes in French only and I got several requests to have this interview available in English here it is:

- We don’t often receive Dutch music here in Canada. What can you tell us about the local music scene? Is there a strong opposition between mainstream and independent production channels?

Well… I have been active in the music industry here for many years and worked for and with various organizations next to handling my own activities. Even though there are of course different worlds which you could define as mainstream and independent I do not like to talk about it in that way… simply as I do not care much about a large part of the so called music industry… either what you could call mainstream or independent.

For me there are very few interesting people, venues and organizations here. Only very few concerts I like to attend are organized and only few magazines write about music I am interested in.

On the other hand there are some people who like me have a normal day job and are active in bands, or run a small label, or organize a concert from time to time… all of this takes place in a world of its own… as what you call mainstream channels ignore the music given attention by these individual people and small organizations. Or maybe these mainstream channels as you call them do not ignore it.. they simply they do not know and don’t want to know about this music… or are not capable of hearing and seeing the brilliance of the music I and some others work with.

In my opinion there are only few people with good taste and guts and that work to promote music instead of themselves.

- Enfant Terrible has specialized in the last few years in discovering numerous new talents through its various compilations. How do you proceed to find them?

This is like asking a cook his recipe. Anyway… I have been searching for new music to listen to as long as I can remember. Next to that I have been writing about music for many years. At some point I came across music I felt other people should also hear. That is how I started and is essentially still the reason why I am active with Enfant Terrible. I discover music I like and in some cases I like to give this music / these artists a platform to present itself.

Even though my focus has changed the last year a bit in sounds and I also incorporate visual art more and more in my activities. Also I have expanded my activities into other areas such as a radio show (called Radio Resistencia) together with Andreas (Lesbian Mouseclicks) and Peter (Sololust) whom I am involved with in a foundation and a paper magazine (called Traces) I do in collaboration with Johan from Seja.

This way I have more options to promote the music I come across in my endless searches… and in this way Enfant Terrible has become a platform, or a source for information, instead of “just” a label.

- Not only does your label publish underground artists, but it also does so almost exclusively on vinyl. How did you come to this decision and is it viable economically?

A cd isn’t anything in my opinion. While I consider digital music as in download mp3’s absolutely as a non-product, a cd is only a step away from that. When I started my label the idea of doing cd’s did not even cross my mind. This as I like a real product and also as I am a collector of vinyl records myself since a very long time.

I did one cd to prove to myself a cd could be a good product if taken care of… this was for me only partly a success… even though the I still like the compilation in question, “Radio Resistencia”, a lot… only the format was not satisfying in the end. A double vinyl would have been better… Well… you learn from mistakes… it is an ongoing process to continuously improve what I do…

It is not just that I release vinyl records… I release limited editions of vinyl records. And really limited editions. Not like some labels who say they do limited editions and re-press when the edition is sold out. When you buy an Enfant Terrible release you know that when it is gone it is really gone.

The way I distribute my records through a network or independent shops also makes it harder for a regular and broader audience to get hold of them, or even to know these records exist. That is done on purpose. I want people to take action and need to get involved to get hold of these sounds and products. You cannot walk into any shop and get these records. It is a specific product with specific content for a specific audience. You have to know… you have to be a illuminati… but I try to promote my artists as well as I can… so my platform is open for all to get involved… it is not a closed cult or anything.

Still I have no interest in serving a regular consumption minded audience. But I do care a lot about my audience, the people who follow my label and the people who truly are music enthusiasts. Also I am happy to have the support of this network of independent shops who help to get the music to the right people.

And… economically viable? No, but that is also not the aim of Enfant Terrible. All my activities are about creating cultural value not economical value… that is why I decided to have, and continue, with my normal day job and keep Enfant Terrible as a sort of full time hobby next to my full time job…

- There has been lately a “revival” of sorts for minimal & DIY electronic music styles from the early 1980s. Labels hunt down rarities for reissues and new artists adopt this musical language in a fashion often undistinguishable in sound from the original productions. What is your opinion on this?

To be honest I think a lot of irrelevant music from the 1980’s is being released right now. That is also the reason I do not sell all these re-issues in my webshop. Even though I know there are quite some people who buy all of these records. I select the few I think are really nice as a document, as a collector piece and are interesting to listen to because of the music.

For me every record has to have a cultural value. Sorry to mention this again but it a core value of my activities. That is also why I now focus on contemporary artists with Enfant Terrible, and move away from what I call the “sure center” of minimal synth sounds. I will keep releasing some more or less typical minimal synth sounds, but mostly I will release more daring music. Like the original pioneers played… these musicians did not play minimal synth music… they simply played music that was made by simple means as with equipment with limited functions. They created interesting soundscapes not just catchy dance tunes.

Contemporary bands who are just copycats of the 80’s sounds I have no interest in. I look for musicians I feel are working in the tradition on the pioneers of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s BUT who are also adding their own touches… often touches very clearly inspired by the world around us today or defined by ways of producing and thinking about music today.

- And finally, what are your plans for the label in 2011?

I will release the last 1980’s re-issue for some time on my label. For some time I have already been doing mostly contemporary music next to focusing on local Dutch talents. But I want to close an important chapter for Enfant Terrible. This chapter is the releases I did as a collaboration with Trumpett. Enfant20 will be a second Doxa Sinistra record. This is the re-issue on vinyl of the first tape “Via Del Latte’. Also it will mean the end of releasing their archive material. All relevant music from this Dutch 80’s tape label has been released through Enfant Terrible after this last vinyl LP.

Maybe I will release some other 80’s music in the near future, like continue the Spleen and Radionome sessions series, but for now I will continue with releasing contemporary music. Also I will continue to release new Dutch talents. And I will continue to broaden the sound spectrum for Enfant Terrible. So expect both some more experimental sounds as also some more poppy sounds.

And… I am working on some more projects that go beyond music as plain music… like I already do with the collaboration with Renée van Trier and the Kelly Correll Brown artifact for example.

Here is the Blackout Musique webzine...

woensdag 16 maart 2011

review: Eklin - Lydl Tellet / Onwa

From the ashes of Dutch elektro-noise act Adept came Eklin. Eklin is very different in sound as this previous project. To give an idea I might call this experimental indie pop, or ambient pop. This are there are pop structures and sounds to be found but most tracks have this edgy feeling. It is never on the save side of pop but neither on the abstract or academic side of most experimental music.

When poppy there is always an element that makes the song stand out in between your regular indie pop. When experimental the music keeps easy to consume without you needing to understand any music theory.

Many tracks are rather ambient... dream like soundscapes but not boring at all. The organic sounds float in and out of your living room and leave this nice warm feeling... Because of the mix of these more ambient pieces and some more song structured tracks the records are pleasant to listen to. They are very well put together with just the right dynamics for your listening experience.

Both records are self published by the band. "Lydl Tellet" is a 4 track EP and "Onwa" is an 10 track album. Both are highly recommended!

You can see Eklin live on stage at the next Enfant Terrible event, Soirée Enfant Terrible on April 2 in Theater Kikker in Utrecht, Holland. See here for all details on that night...

zaterdag 12 maart 2011

Traces: a new paper journal on art and music

Traces is a new paper journal in English on art and music and was founded in 2010 and is run by M. from Enfant Terrible and J. from Seja. The first issue appears next week (mid March 2011).

Everybody is talking about the ecological footprint people leave behind on this earth. We are also interested in the positive traces people leave around. So we bring you artists and musicians who leave their cultural footprints... who leave cultural traces. Traces to be found and traces to be nourished...

For this reason we started this free paper journal on art and music. With Traces we give attention to interesting visual art and music from around the world. We do this on paper so you can get away from the computer screen and relax and sit back comfortable and enjoy the printed words. With Traces we will leave some cultural traces for you to find, follow and nourish...

Traces is for free and available at: Antenne (NL), Apop (USA), Enfant Terrible (NL), Kernkrach (D), Seja (NL), Tonefloat (NL), Treue Um Treue (D), Wool-E-Shop (B).

See also here...

dinsdag 15 februari 2011

Europ Europ: new video, new live show and new vinyl

From Norway comes the electronic outfit Europ Europ. They have been around since 1996 with various members in various line ups. Their sound is raw and noisy minimal electronics with some crazy poppy moments from time to time.

Out now is the new video for the new track 'This Song Makes Me Cry'. This track will be released soon on vinyl on the Etch Wear label, run by the band members themselves. Later this year there will be another vinyl release on Enfant Terrible.

See the excellent new videoclip for this track from the upcoming release here...

Also Europ Europ will perform live on April 2 in Holland at the Soirée Enfant Terrible at Theater Kikker in Utrecht. This is a change to see this band on one of their seldom trips outside Scandinavia.

In the meantime there is an excellent 7 inch and a equally good 12" for sale in the Enfant Terrible webshop. Both are limited editions and the 7" comes in handmade sleeves of which no two are the same. See here...

Adventurous music for the well informed!

dinsdag 1 februari 2011

review: Former Ghosts - New Love.

I read a few reviews that were not all that positive about this second album by Former Ghosts. Basically it came down to the same point: there is no spine-chilling track as 'The Bull And The Ram' on "New Love."

Well... yes that is true... and as much as I loved the first album ("Fleurs", for a review see the archive) I must say that "New Love." is even better as the debut album. While 'The Bull And The Ram' is a truly excellent piece it did lift the whole album to a higher level. Not that the other tracks were not good... but still this highlight was in the end almost all that stuck to your mind.

"New Love." is another story. The album is more cohesive with several really good tracks on it. In general the songs are more melodic and this gives the album a more accessible feeling. The debut was quite dissonant at some points. This new album has a much more gentle flow so to speak.

The records builts up much better and the most outstanding tracks are placed just in the right spots. This makes listening to the record a true pleasure and makes you keep coming back... not for one track but for all of the tunes.

Next to that the highlights of "New Love." are maybe not as mindblowing as 'The Bull And The Ram' but they are excellent on their own. For example 'New Orleans' is a fantastic elektro-wave piece with some late night dancefloor potential.

Zola Jesus' Nika Roza Danilova is also back on two tracks. But this time there is another guest vocalist, Yasmine Kittles, who is probably best know from fellow electronic outfit Tearist.

While Yasmine adds some well delivered whispering vocals, Nika does her typical vocal thingy on 'Chin-Up' and 'Only In Time' and is almost responsible again for the best track on a Former Ghosts album. Almost... as most outstanding is without a doubt 'Right Here' a track done only by Freddy Ruppert, so done also without his companion Jamie Stewart (from Xiu Xiu). A wonderful small melancholy piece. Like a new wave inspired Casiotone For The Painfully Alone in a way...

"New Love." is a great new album despite the fact that nothing truly new is happening compared with the first album, but still I think the more accessible side of Former Ghosts portrayed here is their best side so far...

dinsdag 18 januari 2011

review: Lowfish - Memories Are Uncertain Friends

In short I could mention two points of criticism about this release. One is that it is a cd. Not the nicest of formats to release music on... especially when it comes to electronic music. But then this album is released on a cd packaged in a tin can in a limited hand numbered edition of only 250 copies. That is good enough for me as a collector and as a music lover.

The other point of criticism I can think of is that the music on this album sounds so "1990's". It is IDM and more abstract minded elektro / electronic music with the typical sound of that era. Buth then, this IS music from the 1990's... all tracks date from 1995 to 1999.

What I want to say is that the only points of criticism anybody could come up with for this album are irrelevant. "Memories Are Uncertain Friends" is a superb album with electronic music. An album filled with quality IDM, elektro and related electronic music styles. From abstract to some sort of dance tunes to spacey ambient pieces.

This release also marks the return of Suction Records. A label I respect and a label that must be seen as an important player in the first wave of the elektro, synth pop and minimal electronics revival. Together with labels as Invasion Planète, Genetic Music and A.D.S.R. they shaped the things to come when it comes to this type of music.

Suction Records also have always filled a gap with a specific sounds nobody else did. The music they release is smoother as the stuff Invasion Planète released and not so typical new wave inspired as the Genetic Music output, and less focused on lo-fi experiments as what A.D.S.R. was doing.

Their sound was elektro pop with a twist towards experimentation and in a case of more experimental electronic music always in an accessible way... meaning never over the top and thus still enjoyable to listen to in your car while driving. As is also the case with this Lowfish album.

So, I am very pleased to see Suction Records is resurrected. This first release by Lowfish is a perfect new beginning after the hiatus of about seven years since the last proper release. Looking forward to what will be coming next...

In the meantime you can get this Lowfish album at the Enfant Terrible webshop...