zondag 18 februari 2018

Pokémon Go

Some of you may already know I am also a fanatic (retro) computer gamer.

Recently there has been quite some buzz in the Pokémon Go (yes, I am STILL playing) community around the so-called EX-raids.
During regular raids you can battle strong Pokémon, most of the times together with a group of other players. Some of these Pokémon can't be caught in the wild.
In special occasions there could be obtained so-called EX-raid passes, where a limited amount of invited players get the opportunity to defeat and eventually catch a very rare Pokémon: Mewtwo.

One week ago I was lucky to receive a pass to join an EX-raid, and today was the day I got the opportunity to defeat this very sought after creature and add it to my Pokédex (collection of all Pokémon I caught).

Around 11:30 this morning approximately 40 Pokémon trainers gathered at the location of the Ex-raid. The next 45 minutes became the stage for a nice meeting where a large part of the local Pokémon community gave their best shots to finally get that virtual creature, which caused a couple of sleepless nights in advance for many.

To keep it short: We all defeated and (except for one guy, as far as I am concerned) caught Mewtwo, so I am as lucky as a little child!

donderdag 15 februari 2018

A weekend in the life of Mäläskä

Last weekend Petter and I rented a house to focus on our Mäläskä project, by means of creating new music and adjusting our setup / equipment.

We travelled to the province of Drenthe, in an environment with a lot of agriculture, and in the middle of an area where some serious Dutch music history was established.
And because we were a couple of kilometres away from the nearest big city, it was the perfect location to gaze to the very bright starry sky.

Our intention in fact was to get inspired and work unforced on new material when being in a different environment than where we normally make music. Fact is that we have to be productive once we are in my studio, within the limited couple of hours we have once in a while. Last weekend we didn't have to cope with that, which resulted in more than eight hours of newly recorded improvised music.

Friday and Saturday afternoon Petter and I adjusted some of our equipment, programmed a bit, and did a couple of jams together.
Saturday evening Wouter Bessels visited us and critisized the two sessions we did during his presence.
Sunday we got accompanied by Bas Broekhuis, who brought a drumpad and his very cool Oval electronic hangdrums. During the day and evening we did a couple of sessions together. At the moment of the jams we experienced some great vibes.
When Bas left the building, Petter and I did another session, after which we already had to unwire our equipment.

The next morning we headed back home again. In the meanwhile I listened back to a large part of the recordings of all sessions, which sound at least as satisfying as on the moment of creation. These very inspiring couple of days generated many new ideas and insights. And I have a strong feeling that the beginning of Mäläskä's next chapter started here.

To be continued soon!

woensdag 20 december 2017

Schallwelle Awards 2017 pre-nominations

It's the time of the year again to vote for the annual Schallwelle Awards.
Voting already started December 15th and can be done until January 6th, 2018.

My musical projects are pre-nomintated three times:
The recently released "The Return of Planet X" can be found in the Album list, and REMY as well as Mäläskä are listed in the Artists section.

To bring out your votes, visit http://www.schallwen.de/swvoting/en/

The ceremony of the tenth edition of the Schallwelle Awards take place on February 17th, 2018.
Featuring performances by Stefan Erbe, Sasa Tosic, UNI Sphere, VoLt, and Johannes Schmoelling.
Details can be found on http://schallwelle-preis.de/

Thanks in advance for voting!

zaterdag 4 november 2017

"The Return of Planet X" album release, Tangerine Dream, and more @ E-Live 2017

A bit belated, but here is my impression from recent E-Live festival, held at Theater De Enck in Oirschot, October 21st and 22nd.

Ron Boots talking to a full house. Photo © Rob Enzlin.
This year's edition was a special one in the festival's history, because the event was spread over two days instead of Saturday only.
When the regular festival day was already sold out rather quick after the announcement of the headlining Tangerine Dream, E-Day's organiser Ron Boots decided to add a second concert date, which was set to the day after.
This second concert didn't sell out, but in the end an approximate 500 people visited the weekend.

I decided to only visit the Saturday.
In the first place because I was about to present my new album release, "The Return of Planet X".
Secondly because I didn't have the urge to book an overnight or travel quite the distance another time the next day.
And third, Tangerine Dream.

Let me explain this third reason:
Since early 00s I stopped following Tangerine Dream's activities, until I saw Edgar Froese performing at the T/U Eindhoven (E-Live's previous location) and Tangerine Dream's concert at the Loreley, both in 2008. In my opinion both concerts contained nice moments. Nothing more, nothing less.
When tickets went on sale for Tangerine Dream's first concert in Oirschot, I decided to give it another chance. My friend Wouter Bessels convinced me to do so. And on the other side I was curious what Tangerine Dream was about without front man Edgar Froese.
Slightly with mixed feelings, because of the fact that the band Loom (consisting of Froese's son Jerome and fellow ex-TD member Johannes Schmoelling, as well as Rob Waters) sounds more Tangerine Dream to me than the original band's line-up since the passing of Edgar Froese.
It might not be a surprise that this situation generated some discussion between both bands, as well as amongst fans from the first hour.

Edgar Froese's wife Bianca fully supports the continuation of her (in 2016 passed) husband's heritage in its current form, with band members Torsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss and Hoshiko Yamane.
Coinciding on this day she presented her husband's autobiography "Force Majeure", which was long awaited by the fans.

As usual, during the day there were a couple of concerts. This year's time table contained concerts by Beyond Berlin, David Wright & Carys, Sonic Rider, and so Tangerine Dream (presenting "The Quantum Years - in honour of Edgar Froese").
Mainly because of the fact I was presenting my freshly released "The Return of Planet X", I 'missed' all concerts, with exception of the main act.
However, I already saw David and Carys during last summer's Schwingungen Garten Party. Same goes for Beyond Berlin, which I witnessed performing at De Enck a while ago.
In between the concerts a nice amount of people visited the stall to buy my new release "The Return of Planet X". People who already pre-ordered the album, also picked up their bonus disc.

Tribute to Edgar Froese.
Then came the moment that Tangerine Dream entered the stage. It took me 10-15 minutes before I could let go the fact I was listening to Tangerine Dream with expectations. From that point I enjoyed every bit of it. First the brilliant first two hours, containing new tracks, as well as some classic TD tracks, like "White Eagle", "Rubycon", "Logos" and "Song of the Whale", of which the latter memorated Edgar Froese, sentimentally coincided with projected portrait photos.
Followed by a 50-minute fully improvised jamsession after the break. Craftmanship and simply amazing!

The global sound mix was hypnotizing. In my opinion a brilliant decision. Without doubt containing clear Tangerine Dream elements and links to Edgar Froese's trademarks, this time carried over by the new generation of musicians.
It was good to see and hear the effective collaboration between the musicians on stage. Only point of criticism could be the fact that the violin player seemed to have not much to do a large part of the time, and just stood there silently. While she was set up in the middle of the stage, there was no opportunity for her to leave the spot. But who cares, especially when you had closed your eyes to enjoy the concert?

Thorsten, Hoshiko and Ulrich. Photo © André Stooker.
Concluding this concert, I was more than surprised about the brilliant output. It definitely has an reason that these musicians are still performing together as Tangerine Dream, despite the fact it will never be Tangerine Dream anymore after the passing of Edgar Froese.
But attending their concerts without any expectations, it was one of the best electronic music acts I have seen and heard in a while.
Nice detail: both evenings featured completely different music. Which must have made it an absolute treat for everyone who visited both concerts.

Hat off for organiser Ron Boots, who once again did a lot of efforts to organise a valuable event proving electronic music is still alive.

As always it was a great pleasure to talk to and have fun with a lot of people during the day.
Also thanks a lot to my lovely wife Paulien, who took care of my album sales.
Finally I got back home around 2:30 a.m.

Coming time I will continue activities around "The Return of Planet X" and some upcoming projects.
Recently there has already been quite some airplay of "The Return of Planet X", the first reviews start to come in, and besides the physical release the album will soon also be availble as digital download from Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, and many more sites.

donderdag 19 oktober 2017

New release: The Return of Planet X

I am delighted to announce an upcoming new release, scheduled for October 21st:

After last year's very well received "Fears" - REMY's only solo album from the last five years - Dutch synthesist Remy Stroomer comes up with the release of the project which partially inspired the 2016 album.

2012 marked many prophecies and theories about 'the end of the world'. Also Hollywood heavily anticipated on the doom scenarios mainly based on predictions by the Mayans, more than 5000 years ago.

Strangely, the scenario of the return of the so called 'Planet X' - as predicted by the Sumerian people from approximately 5000 b.C. - wasn't highlighted.
When browsing the internet, and digging into available sources, the story of Nibiru (a huge planet from another 'nearby' solar system which enters ours every 3600 years and passing earth closely during its ellyptic orbit) and the Anunnaki (the planet's inhabitants) could also be a good reason to cause more panic when it concerns earth's destruction and the demise of its inhabitants.

Remy got intrigued by the subject of Planet X after a conversation with a friend about a 'second sun' - which was spotted by many people lately all over the world.
When doing research Remy found many sources and facts suggesting the story - or at least parts of it - could easily be real.
On the other side, there are also enough sources that reject all theories or prove opposite.
In any case the story of Planet X remains highly fascinating and mysterious, and therefore became the inspiration for a musical interpretation.

May 19th, 2012 - in the estimated year of the arrival of another planet into our solar system - a musical tribute to Planet X was performed live at an one-off event organised by Remy
Stroomer and Ron Boots. The wonderful location of the Grote of St.Bavokerk in the centre in Haarlem became the scenery for this project to be staged.

"The Return of Planet X" was divided into three concert-parts:
- Part 1: Composed by Remy Stroomer, and performed by Remy Stroomer (synthesizers and grand piano), Wouter de Ruyter (violin), Dick Bijlsma (violin) and Martine de Ket (cello);
- Part 2: Composed by Ron Boots, and performed by Ron Boots (synthesizers), Eric van der Heijden (synthesizers), Harold van der Heijden (drums and percussion), and a 10-piece choir.
- Part 3: Improvised by Remy Stroomer (synthesizers, grand piano and C. Müller Organ), Ron Boots (synthesizers, grand piano), Eric van der Heijden (synthesizers, C. Müller Organ), and Harold van der Heijden (drums and percussion).

Remy Stroomer's new release, "The Return of Planet X", contains the entire first part, as well as the third part's improvised piano prelude by Remy and Ron and the 'grand final',
where Remy and Eric play the historic and impressive C. Müller Organ.
Part 2 was already released back in 2012 (Ron Boots - "Signs in the Sand"), and is available from www.groove.nl.

"The Return of Planet X" will be released on CD and as digital download and is going to be presented by Deserted Island Music at the annual E-Live Festival in Oirschot, on October 21th.

Order your copy from www.desertedislandmusic.nl.

woensdag 20 september 2017

Awakenings

Last Saturday it was time for the September edition of Awakenings. The electronic music event, where I performed twice before (a solo performance in 2012, and with Free Arts Lab in 2014) at the previous location in Burton-on-Trent, is now being held at Lea Hall Social Club, in Rugeley.
A smaller and more intimate venue than Paget High School.

Petter Janse and I were invited to perform here with Mäläskä last weekend.
We departed from The Netherlands on Friday morning, September 15th, took the ferry from Duinkerken, and overnighted in Folkestone, just south from Dover.
The next day we drove to Rugeley, while having a lot of heavy traffic on our way. Anyway, we were in time to get our equipment installed.

Sinewaves Light.
(Photo by Phil Booth)
The first concert, by Sinewaves Light started at 18:10, and ended at 19:00.
Mike Parrott exposed a wide variety of different touches of electronic music.
Despite the fact that the performance was technically sloppy from time to time, it contained some really good parts and themes. Very enjoyable.
The different tracks were clearly inspired by (or at least they contained clear comparisons with) the music of John Carpenter, James Horner, Vangelis, Jarre, and also featured some serious Berlin School sequences.

Infinity Curve.
(Photo by Phil Booth)
After the first break of half an hour, routiniers and frequent Awakening performers Jez Creek and Peter Challoner debuted as Infinity Curve.
Some dark and sinister ambient sound sculptures kicked off their one-hour set.
Subtle evolving and constantly emerging layers made this a very delightful and exciting listen.
After ten minutes a sequence appeared and evolved into some nice uptempo ambient.
From time to time some very subtle solo leads in the background, and also more than enough happening constantly, by means of sound effects, structures and samples.
After every following sequence part, another ambient passage made the bridge to the next sequencer sections.
Excellently balanced, great sounds, interesting layering, and brilliant sequencing. Really awesome!

Mäläskä.
(Photo by Phil Booth)
Then another 30 minutes break (in which we checked the final technical things) before Petter and I made our appearance.
We set off with some soundscapes, after which the first sequencing was done. Alternated with atmospheric passages.

A short impression from the first part of our gig can be seen here.

After a little longer than one hour we finished our set. At that point Petter suggested that I should do an encore on my own. So I started an improvised piano piece. Ending up with some more sequencing.
No idea what our output sounded like, but I will listen to the recordings within the coming days.

Unfortunately it was not the best visited edition of Awakenings ever. On the other side, many people did buy a virtual ticket, and supported the event this way. Which is much appreciated.
In any way we have had a great weekend; it was really good to be back!

Thanks to all who visited the concerts, and bought virtual tickets.
And many thanks to Phil Booth, Dave Buxton and everyone involved.

donderdag 7 september 2017

Galactic Travels special focus

Galactic Travels, hosted by Bill Fox, will have a month-long focus on my music. Every Thursday in September there is aired one of my albums:

7-9: Sessions 2012 (with My Breath My Music)
14-9: i-Dentity
21-9: The Great Church Trilogy
28-9 EoD

The special focus page:
http://galactictravels.info/playlists/2017/focus.html#sep

Galactic Travels is an electronic, ambient, and space music show that airs each Thursday at 11 p.m. EDT (which is 5 a.m. CEST, Amsterdam time) on WDIY 88.1 FM , Allentown and Bethlehem, 93.9 FM in Easton and Phillipsburg, 93.7 FM in Fogelsville and Trexlertown, and on the internet at http://wdiy.org.

Afterwards the shows are archived on Mixcloud: https://www.mixcloud.com/galactictravels/