woensdag 31 december 2014

2014 / 2015

2014 Has already come to an end, so it's a good time to overview the year.A year in which a lot of bizarre things happened, like three major plane crashes, including the MH17, the ebola outbreak, unneccessary murdering by IS and the Taliban. Situations which are unrealistic and hard to believe and understand. And we also had the unbelievable statements of Geert Wilders, the release of Volkert van der Graaf, the Olympic Wintergames, World Championship Soccer, the first King's Day in the Netherlands. The passing of some musical heroes, like Bobby Womack and Joe Cocker.

And - probably with not quite as much impact as above mentioned facts - here also is an overview of my own (music-related) highlights of 2014:

January 10th
Concert at Theater De Wegwijzer.
The first performance I did together with the formation which resulted into the first version of Free Arts Lab, with Jeroen Hagen (drums and percussion) and Martijn Scholte (bowed guitar).

June 27th
"Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition".
An event I organised at the wonderful location of the Ruins of Brederode in Santpoort-Zuid.
Featuring the second performance by Free Arts Lab, Wolfram Spyra premiering his new album "Staub" and Planet of the Arps (my ambient project, together with Spyra and Roksana Vikaluk.

October 4th, Pletterij Debat- en Cultuurcentrum in Haarlem was the location for the first concert by Free Arts Lab version 2.0 (with guitar player Petter Janse, and custom-made visuals by Sietse Bruggeling), as preparation for our gig at the Awakenings All-Dayer, in the U.K., on October 11th. A video report about our trip should be put online early new year.

Free Arts Lab has been nominated for the annual Schallwelle Award, as 'Best act international'.
Voting has started and you can also bring out your vote for us on the Schallwelle website until January 31st, 2015.
If you don't have any idea what our music sounds like, you should check out Free Arts Lab's Soundcloud.

Plans for 2015

Free Arts Lab
Main focus will be on Free Arts Lab and performances with this band. If you have any suggestions or possibilities for us to perform, just drop me a mail. A 20-minute compilation of our October concerts can be listened to on Soundcloud.

Throughout the year I started some collaborations with Gert Emmens and C-Jay, and continued recordings for a large project which I mentioned before, but of which I still can't reveal much more at this moment. I really had a lack of time to work more than I wanted on these projects.

One of the first things to come in 2015 should be the first episode of the release of my archives, in January.
Since a couple of years I already discussed with my post-production and mastering engineer Wouter Bessels about the possibilities to do something with the huge amount of archive recordings.
Within the previous 15+ years of serious music recording, I recorded a lot of new music, experiments, jamsessions, rehearsals and concerts. Just a small selection appeared on the 10 regular albums, 2 released collaborations, and 5 special / limited editions, I released so far. And a nice amount lone tracks is to be found on various samplers / compilations.
Because most of the music is specific for a certain period there's a big chance that most of it will probably never be released. An artist should definitely not release everything that has been recorded.
Besides this, there already is too much crap around. So I won't bother you with those recordings which are not yet finished, tracks which doesn't add anything at all, or contain too much errors, for example. In short: everything that's not good enough in my opinion.

But I always felt the need to release more than I did until date. Even when making selections for official releases, I considered a lot of tracks, which also could easily have made it to these albums. If they had been chosen. But they hadn't, due to fitting with other tracks and the concept and feeling I had in mind for a specific album.

From this point I decided there should be released a large part of my archives. So I recently continued sorting out and digitalize my CD, MD and MC recordings. Financially it is impossible to release all these archives as manufactory pressed cd's. Therefor I decided to offer the
"Archives" series as digital download only. At least for the moment. Exclusively from my own Deserted Island Music webshop, as high quality FLAC and MP3.
The first release will be available from early 2015. From there on it is the intention to add a new episode approximately each 6 months.
At the moment I am working on my webshop to facilitate the downloads. Keep in touch with my social media and this blog for any updates.

Last but not least, rest me to wish you a wonderful and prosperous 2015!

dinsdag 11 november 2014

10 Albums

Recently I was challenged to list ten albums that have been important for me.
Normally I don't feel the need to participate on these kind of challenges, because there are too much potential albums for a certain list to make a proper top ten of. And the list might be subject of change each day.
But I decided to give it a try, because I think there has been a lot of music around which became a large part of my life, and also influenced my own music.
This might perhaps also help you to understand the musical direction I decided to go into.
So here's an overview with short explanations why I chose these particular albums (in random order) to appear in this list.

Note that this top ten doesn't necessarily contain the best long players ever made, but consist of specific albums that have become precious to me in one way or another.

Massive Attack - Protection (1994)
Where their debut "Blue Lines" (1991) sounds rather raw, its successor balances in between this style and more polished production.
It consists of excellent songs, featuring Tracy Thorn, Horace Andy and Tricky. These collaborations, including string arrangements and piano by Craig Armstrong, results into a wonderful varied album on which a crossover of musical styles can be discovered. Its overall production, collaborations and atmosphere have been an inspiration for my own musical creations. And besides this, it's one of the cd's I actually always take with me during vacation.
With "Protection" the fathers of the so-called trip-hop delivered an almost perfect album. Strangely enough the terrible 'Light My Fire' Doors cover, in addition to classic tracks like 'Protection', 'Karmacoma' and 'Sly', makes the album complete, and marks an important episode in music history.

Craig Armstrong - The Space Between Us (1998)
This Scottish composer created his own musical style by blending classical elements and instruments (e.g. grand piano, orchestra and choir) with modern electronics.
In first instance Craig Armstrong appeared on Massive Attack's "Protection" (1994), and contributed to the success of their hit-single "Unfinished Sympathy" (1991). This last one is without any doubt one of the best tracks ever made in music history.
Without his orchestral arrangements for artists like Madonna, U2 and Massive Attack, and block busting movies like "Romeo & Juliet", "Moulin Rouge", "Kiss of the Dragon", "The Quiet American" and "Love Actually" (to name a few), musical history would have been significantly different.
His compositions are most of the times rather minimal, but very strong, straight and recognisable, which makes Armstrong's music easy to understand and identify with. Something I also want to achieve with my own music.

Jean Michel Jarre - Zoolook (1984)
This was one of the first cd's I ever got, and the first Jean Michel Jarre disc in a huge pile to follow.
Jean Michel Jarre is in many ways my favourite artist on this planet. "Oxygene" (1976) and "Equinoxe" (1978) might be the best known albums by the French composer, who sold approximately 80 million albums worldwide. He also made fame with his huge mega outdoor concerts. The strength of his music are the recognisable and powerful (mainly instrumental) compositions, which are constructed as pop-songs. Created with synthesizers and electronics for the largest part, but often enough acoustic instruments are being involved. "Zoolook" marked the beginning of the digital music era, with the introduction of MIDI and samplers. Which has been made use of at a maximum level on this record. A lot of speech and vocal processing combined with Jarre's typical music style, and wonderful tracks like "Ethnicolor", "Diva" and "Ethnicolor 2" makes this organic sounding album definitely one of Jarre's most interesting.

Klaus Schulze - Dreams (1986)
My first introduction to the music from Klaus Schulze was through two discs I rented from the library. This must have been around 1996. "Miditerrenean Pads" (1990) and the Brain-release of "Dreams" (1986), containing the original 5 instead of 4 tracks. I was in particular impressed by Klaus' sublime exposure of his dreams on this second title, which matched exactly with my own dream-world. A lot of details and subtle progress within the tracks, make this album a perfect trip. Concluding this journey with the epic and surrealisic piece "Klaustrophony". The album played a major role into the approach of my own compositions. Nice detail is that my music already contained a lot of the elements of Klaus' music, around the time I discovered his (kind of) music.

Mike Oldfield - Incantations (1978)
Although I think "Amarok" (1990) is Mike Oldfield's 'best' and most varied and dynamic album up to date (yes, I prefer it above "Tubular Bells" (1973)), "Incantations" emotional-wise attracted me most. The album catches you from the first voices, until the last notes of the 4-parts masterpiece. It contains a special incantatious magic, which can only be experienced when listening to the entire long player. It would be great to achieve the same with my own songs.

Vangelis - Heaven and Hell (1975)
The Greek Evanghelos Odysseas Papathanasiou produced a lot of brilliant music during his career. Most fans favourite his legendary soundtrack for the cult sci-fi movie "Blade Runner" (1982). Which also belongs to my favourites, but "Heaven and Hell" marked the beginning of Vangelis' unique style that lead to many brilliant releases and huge successes. It was the first album released as 'Vangelis'. Besides the virtuoso musical skills (compositional as well as his playing techniques), this album describes heaven (which covers the first part of the record) and hell (the second part), in such a perfect and lively way that some parts really scare me. On this album Vangelis makes use of clear themes, but also unfamiliar elements and weird sounds that strengthen the atmosphere and unknown regions of this subject.

Didier Marouani & Paris France Transit - Concerts en URSS (1983)
The music of Didier Marouani and Space has been compared a lot with those of Jean Michel Jarre. Indeed there are some comparisons (e.g. the large outdoor concerts, the link with both artists' music in space, "Les Années Laser", and participation of musicians like Dominique Perrier and Joe Hammer), but as you can hear on this album, which is a registration of a series of concerts in Russia, exposes quite a different music style. Where his French fellow musician seems to focus more on electronic music with traditional elements, Marouani does the opposite. Involving more or less the same amount of electronics into his music, but with an opposite and more traditional approach. At least with his early works. This makes the music of Didier Marouani - and especially this live registration - an unique music style on its own. Jarre and Marouani might perhaps have been my biggest inspirations for at least my earlier musical creations.

Antonín Dvořák - Symphony No. 9 (1893)
Actually there are so many classical masterpieces, but Dvořák's "Symphony from the New World" catches me in its entire. There have been made a lot of tremendous classical pieces (and then I feel attracted most to baroque, bombastic symphonies, containing orchestra and choir), but due to their lengths, there are always some 'weaker' parts or passages that go on too long. One of the pieces where this isn't the case, is this treasure by Dvořák, in my opinion. He wrote this symphony during his stay in the U.S.A., which resulted into a modern sounding and innovative piece of classical music. Each time I listen to "Symphony No.9", I discover new elements. Something I also hope to achieve with my own music.
I had the privilege to witness a performance of the symphony, in the composer's place of birth, Prague, back in 2010. Which was a very special experience, especially in the Smetana Hall (called after another fellow Chech composer) of the City Hall, performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra.

Jeff Wayne - The War of the Worlds (1978)
H.G.Wells' historic novel had been a big inspiration for many movies, a radio broadcast which scared the hell out of people, and also Jeff Wayne took the opportunity to create his own vision on this story. It became a musical version. Featuring big names like Richard Burton, Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott and David Essex.
The entire piece is performed by a mix of traditional instruments, orchestra, synthesizers and vocals. Which results into strong and overwhelming themes.
Synthesizer sounds and effects were used highly effective to boost the melodies and even more important: to represent the Martians.
In all aspects this album is the perfect example of blending classical influences with modern music with the available techniques. Something that I am also trying to let reflect into my music. Although, I still dream of creating a same kind of project, including a full orchestra to perform my music.

Michael Jackson - Bad (1987)
Why "Bad" and not "Thriller" or "Off The Wall"? Because "Bad" was the first vinyl I bought at the time it was released. I must have played it at least 1000 times.
The very first cd I got somewhere halfway the 80's, was "The Jacksons Live".
This period I was very much into the music of the phenomenon Michael Jackson, which definitely marked an important part of my childhood.
Besides having all his music, collecting merchandising, and participating on talent shows with Michael Jackson imitations, I was lucky to attend the "Bad"-Tour concert at the Kuip in Rotterdam, in 1988. Could have been worse for my first concert ever. I have always been fascinated by Jackson's strong and melodic songs and extraordinary video clips. After all those years, the music still hasn't reached its expire date, and with 750 million albums sold you can imagine Michael Jackson played a very important role in many people's life. And so he did in mine.

A special mention goes to "The Most Spectacular Synthesizer Hits" (1988) by Ed Starink. It was my introduction to synthesizer music. Because this compilation of the "Synthesizer Greatest" series doesn't contain originals (and after all the originals had much, much more impact on me), I decided not to include this specific release in between the ten titles above.
And yes, I could add many more titles to this list, varying from classical to hard rock, including musical styles which even have not been mentioned above. But the above mentioned list should just do it for this moment. Then, I could also extend above thread with 'best songs' and 'best concerts' for example, but I might get back to this later! Enough for now!

maandag 13 oktober 2014

Awakenings All-Dayer

On the road.
Two and a half years after my debut at the Awakenings Festival, I was being asked to perform here again. This time as part of the All-Dayer. Which is the final edition of the season.
On the four evenings of this festival earlier this year, three acts entered the stage. The All-Dayer (as you might expect) is spread over the whole day. Offering three acts in the afternoon, and three in the evening.
In 2012 I performed solo, and because I am involved into Free Arts Lab at this moment, I decided to perform with Jeroen Hagen and Petter Janse at this edition, when I was being invited.

Arriving at Dover.
Friday, October 10th early in the morning we loaded our van with all equipment and headed to Calais to take the ferry to Dover. Before midnight we arrived at our hotel in Derby, and before going to sleep we had a drink at a local bar in the centre of Derby.
Saturday, October 11th, right after breakfast, we drove to Paget High School in Burton upon Trent where we unloaded our van and enjoyed the concerts throughout the day, which started around 13:00.
Six concerts varying in length in between 40 and 70 minutes, with intervals of 15 minutes in between each of them.

John Sherwood opened this third edition of the Awakenings All-Dayer with his musical creations which could be categorized somewhere in between ambient and minimal. A nice ambient start, and later on sequencers. Unfortunately it lacked any progress within the tracks and musically and performance-wise it couldn't catch me.

The set by Jah Buddha (aka Bob Hedger) mainly consisted of strong and driven Berlin School sequencing, and from time to time typical solos. Excellent layering of sequences, great and well chosen sounds and very interesting progress during his set. Absolutely recommended and highly enjoyable for the ears.

Ion, a three-piece formation, headlined the afternoon session. Starting their set with soothing ambient, blended with elements of dreamy new age. After this, an uptempo track, more ambience and then another energetic and exotic eastern-influenced track featuring a belly dancer. Continued by a cheezy English folk song  featuring (out of tune) flute and violin. The following uptempo tracks luckily did forget its precedor.
Although the band's presentation was chaotic, they delivered a nice set. Accompanied with from time to time nice visuals.

Then a long break followed in which we setup our equipment and did our soundcheck.

Ashok Prema continued the programme at 19:00. Because we had to change clothes I missed a large part of it. The part I heard contained nice music, with a lot of Hindi influences. The trio played their tracks without intermissions in between, so it was a nice constant listen. Very melodic, clear themes and well chosen and characteristic sounds. Only the two younger keyboard players could have played slightly more accurate and convincing.

Free Arts Lab. (c) Phil Booth.
20:00 it was time for us.
Our second Free Arts Lab performance in this formation, and although we did a satisfying try-out last week, we were very excited to learn how our music was going to be received by the audience. As well sound- as performance-wise.
We were a bit overwhelmed by all positive vibes and reactions of the audience. Still I have some points of attention for our performance and setup, but I think the audience didn't notice most of that. We left the stage very satisfied.

Directly after our show, I was honoured to get officially accepted as part of the Awakenings-family, and was very surprised to receive a delicious birthday-cake. Complete with lighted candles. Thanks a lot!

Then it was time for Audiometria, who came over all the way from Tenerife to debut at Awakenings.
A couple of months ago Radio Massacre International should have headlined the festival, but due to health reasons of bandmember Gary, the Canary Island duo was invited in place.
Miguel and Javi performed a typical traditional electronic music set. With a lot of power sequencing.
Intermissed with some ambient pieces layered with virtuoso piano solos. It is always a pleasure to notice that there are schooled musicians around who are capable of doing just that little bit more. Really nice!
And then again... Deep and powerful sequencing which definitely should appeal everyone who is into electronic music. Excellent headliner!

My synthesizers setup.
My second Awakenings experience was again a very positive one. Musically seen there was offered a varied programme. The number of visitors was ok (somewhere in between 30 and 40), but could have been slightly higher. In any case it again was an absolute pleasure to perform at this event and venue.

The day after, we headed back home.

Rest to thank the organisation and crew (Phil Booth, Jez Creek and Dave Buxton), volunteer girls from the catering and all people who were present this day and/or supported by buying a virtual ticket.

The coming time we will focus on Free Arts Lab's future plans and activities. To be continued...

zondag 5 oktober 2014

Free Arts Lab @ Pletterij

Friday, October 3rd, Jeroen Hagen, Petter Janse and I did a try-out at the Pletterij in Haarlem for Free Arts Lab's upcoming appearance at this year's final edition of the Awakenings concert series, taking place in Burton-on-Trent (U.K.). This specific edition is called the 'All-Dayer' and features 6 electronic music acts throughout the whole day, instead of 3 evening concerts during the previous editions of 2014.

Early in the afternoon we set up our equipment, did a soundcheck, and we had the time to already play the entire set. It was the first time we rehearsed our show accompanied with the final visuals, which were created exclusively for our show, by Sietse Bruggeling. And it was the first gig in our current line-up.

In the first case this try-out was meant to test and fine-tune our current (relativeley complex) setup. It worked quite well, also thanks to the professional assistance and advise of sound engineer Rob Brakel.
In the end there were made some slight adjustments to our setup.

We decided to create a setup which should make it as comfortable as possible for any PA and sound engineer at any thinkable venue we are performing our music.
Each of the musicians has his own mixer, from which the output is going directly to the PA. Normally any onstage monitoring is being sent from the PA. But we chose to do our own monitoring, via routing through our own mixers.
We prepared everything in such a way that it practically doesn't need any adjustments during our show. So only configuring the PA of the venue for the main mix is an issue.

When starting our afternoon sessions, I noticed that my Korg M1's pitch bend joystick was broken.
Quite frustrating, because I really use to use it a lot. In the meanwhile I replaced the joystick with a working one from one of my spare M1's, so I am glad the pitch-bend and modulation control it available again in time for next weekend's Awakenings All-Dayer.

Free Arts Lab. Seconds before the evening concert.
After our afternoon session, all sound settings seemed to be satisfying, so we had a very relaxing break while dinner was being served.
Around 20:00 the first people entered the venue. In the meanwhile we changed costumes, and 'prepared' for the evening part. In the end around 30 people attended our try-out. Not bad, because I had no expectations at all.

Slightly past 20:30 the sequencer started, and 72 minutes later we played our last note.
Except for some wrong notes and an improvisation that could have been slightly 'better' (hey, that's live), we left the stage very satisfied.
And we were glad to hear that most of the visitors enjoyed our music and experienced a nice evening too.

Special thanks go out to Arno Duivestein (who offered us the opportunity for this try-out at this really nice and comfortable venue. Which was arranged on a very short term (only two weeks in advance). And Rob Brakel (sound engineer and video registration) from the Pletterij.
Both gentlemen were present, helpful and supportive the whole afternoon and evening.

Also many thank to Lionel Calvetti (assistant sound engineer), Angela Boogaard (video registration) and Roni Klinkhamer (cook). The Pletterij crew really made us feel at home.
Thank to Dennis van der Made for arranging the beamer, Jeroen Hagen and Petter Janse for getting involved into this musical journey, Paulien Bouw for her infinite support, and last but not least: big thank you's to all of you who attended our try-out and wished us luck for our upcoming concert in the U.K.

Korg M1 repair

Just before last Friday's Free Arts Lab concert at the Pletterij, the pitch bend / modulation joystick of my Korg M1 broke.
Very frustrating because I use to use it a lot, especially during my solos.
And because of the fact that it was the first synthesizer I owned, and still use it during most of my concerts (and have used it on all my albums so far), I actually can't without it.

Yesterday I opened the synthesizer to replace the broken stick with a functional one from a another M1, which I have for spare parts.
In the end this wasn't the hardest job, except for the fact that there first had to be removed the upper two print boards to get access to the cables leading to the connection with the rear of one of these boards.

Glad to have my brave old Korg M1 in good shape again. And in time for our Awakenings gig, next weekend.

dinsdag 30 september 2014

Free arts Lab in concert

Yesterday evening we did a very satisfying final session with Free Arts Lab before some upcoming gigs.
The last months we have been rehearsing really a lot, and since our first performance together (although this was meant as support to a REMY gig) at Theater De Wegwijzer in January, I think we are evolving into the right direction.
Within the last months, we decided to work on my music as the core of Free Art's Lab set (at least for the moment), and adjusted the setlist to create a stable basis, so all musicians have the opportunity to get comfortable with the music.
From here on it is the intention to extend all musician's individual input and influences, which might eventually lead to new musical creations. Which already is the case with our improvisational intermissions, which evolve into something completely different, each time we play through our set.

At this moment Jeroen, Petter and I prepared a 70-minute solid show, accompanied with exclusively created visuals by Sietse Bruggeling. The musical content was premiered at the Ruins of Brederode, during "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition", 3 months ago. and now, there are some more upcoming concerts, of which the first two have been confirmed:

October 3rd
Try-out concert @ Debat- en cultuurcentrum De Pletterij, Haarlem
Tickets: €5, reservation required

October 11th
Awakenings All-dayer @ Paget High School, Burton on Trent, U.K.
Tickets (includes VT with the complete recordings of all concerts): £30

It would be great to share our musical adventure with you at these or any of our future gigs!

dinsdag 26 augustus 2014

Free Arts Lab update

It might have seemed rather silent around Free Arts Lab, but the last weeks we have been very busy making music in my studio.

In first instance Jeroen, Martijn and I rehearsed for recent "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition".
After this event it was decided that Martijn would go into an other direction after we discussed the band's future plans.

While preparing for the upcoming Awakenings gig in the U.K. (Burton-on-Trent, October 11th), as well as other future performances, Petter Janse joined Free Arts Lab, after a couple of try-out sessions.
Petter is an experienced and wide-oriented composer and guitar player.
According to me and Jeroen, the new collaboration feels like an excellent addition to Free Arts Lab and the musical output our band would like to achieve.

But there is more!
Besides the musical developments, Sietse Bruggeling did a great effort creating and customizing visuals for Free Arts Lab's current setlist.
Within the coming period this part will be fine-tuned, but for now you can already watch a preview of this part of our show: http://vimeo.com/103143972

The next weeks we will continue rehearsing and developping their set for the upcoming shows. Any media will be updated as soon as here is something to share with you. So stay tuned!

donderdag 3 juli 2014

"Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition"

Last Friday "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition", at the Ruïne van Brederode (Santpoort-Zuid), took place.
In advance the weather circumstances were rather uncertain, at least for the amount of rain that eventually could fall. Something we absolutely had to keep an eye on because it concerned an outdoor-event.
During the morning and afternoon we built up all equipment and organised the stage.
It was quite a challenge to get everything to the ruins (and even more to get things back to the cars in the dark) because of the long sandy pathway and the small bridges, across which our stuff had to be transported.

'Master of ceremonies' Bob Rusche.
18:30 the first audience entered the venue. Around 19:45 the evening was kicked off by 'master of ceremonies' Bob Rusche. As soon as he finished his announcement for Free Arts Lab - the first act of the evening - I touched the first keys. While I did, a buzzard flew across the audience twice (as planned). The bird left the scenery and the actual concert started.

Already very early during the set it became clear that there was something wrong with the drummer's sound. Unexpectedly, because during the sound-check everything was fine-tuned.
It took a while before the main issues had been solved, but after this the rest of the gig went fine (as far as I could judge from our stage position).

Free Arts Lab.
Due to this issue it took some effort to get our concentration and the required vibe.
With the third track the issues seemed to be over for the largest part, and we finally could focus on our performance. Which actually was the second gig we ever did so far within the 6 months since the band's establishment. During our first improvisation another bird (this time an eagle-owl) flew over the audience. And two tracks later a screetch owl.

Free Arts Lab tracklist (approx. 70 minutes):
1. Awakenings - part 3; 2. E-Live 2013 - part 3-2; 3. Improvisation; 4. Zeequence 2; 5. The Great Escape; 6. Zeequence 3; 7. Improvisation; 8. MMIX a.D.

Then a break and time for another bird show, which was initiated by my wife Paulien, to give some extra over-all atmosphere.

Wolfram Spyra.
After the break the master of ceremonies announced Wolfram Spyra. The audience was told that Spyra's new release "Staub" was delayed until September, because of technical artwork issues.
This evenening we 'had to do it' with the integral live performance (which was improvised for a large part) of the entire album.
With "Staub" Wolfram returned to his roots and exposed minimal but very strong compositions which were being strengthened even more when the sun appeared behind the horizon. Shortly after Wolfram kicked off his set, the dusk allowed the lights to do their work and create maximum atmosphere. Within a short time the real magic was about to begin.

Wolfram Spyra tracklist (approx. 65 minutes):
1. Dusk; 2. Staub; 3. Glacier; 4. Etude; 5. Ecce Homo; 6. Flur.

Planet of the Arps.
And then, contiguous: "Planet of the Arps".
An ambient piece I wrote more than 4 years ago, and since it had already been accomplished, I had the intention to let Spyra rework it.
Read my previous blog for details.
Due to both our busy schedules it took until last Friday that our first collaborational attempt on this project finally took place.
While we planned to prepare this piece a couple of days before the performance, it never came this far.
Last Friday our collaboration consisted of 100% improvisation around the basic tracks I provided Wolfram a while ago.
Finally these tracks were remixed in realtime live on stage by Spyra. On top of this we both added parts and solos. On the very last moment we decided that Roksana Vikaluk (Wolfram's girlfriend and half of 'Moon & Melody') should also participate with her sublime vocals on the 'grande finale'. It really was a great experience and a pleasure to create music together with Wolfram and Roksana in these circumstances.

The version of 'Planet of the Arps' which we performed consisted of a 22 minutes excerpt from the original one-hour piece.
"Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" ended slightly past 23:00.

In the end the weather gods had all the best with us, and eventual showers that could have struck us, moved into some places which were a couple of kilometres away from us. So we were blessed with a wonderful summer evening, which we shared together with around 100 visitors.

Paulien with eagle owl Ruud.
Thanks a lot to all the present (international) audience and everyone who contributed and supported.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank some people in particular:
- In the first place: Dimitri Arpad for his co-operation and the opportunity to organise this evening at the wonderful and magic location of the Ruïne van Brederode.
- Marcel Sukel and Nathalie Nijman who arranged some very significant last-minute issues.
And not in the last place all other volunteers at the ruins.
Illuminated Ruïne van Brederode.
- The musicians: Jeroen Hagen, Martijn Scholte, Wolfram Spyra and Roksana Vikaluk.
- Sound, light and recording crew: Renato Cannavacciuolo, Rogier Gieske, Wouter Bessels, René Bussing and everyone at Showgroup.
- The birdshow: Mart Schrieken (assisted by Paulien Bouw).
- Paulien Bouw for her infinite support and assistance, as well as the initiative and cooperation for the birdshow.
- 'Master of ceremonies' Bob Rusche for announcing the individual concerts.
- Crew: Paulien Bouw, Ray Korsman.
- Film and photo crew: André Stooker, Selmar Koek, Mellanie Swart.
- Everyone who promoted and supported this event.
And indeed all of you who I forgot to mention!

Now it's time to work on other projects. Later this year we will look for the opportunities for an eventual continuation of "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition", in 2015.

The above featured photos have been taken by Phil Booth (1-4), Anke Betzler (5) and André Stooker (6).

woensdag 25 juni 2014

"Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" - Planet of the Arps

Only 2 days to go to the concert evening I am organising at the Ruïne van Brederode, so recently I have written some blog items about this upcoming event and related activities.

Last time I already supplied all global details and information about the event, and last week I also wrote about the performing artists Free Arts Lab and Wolfram Spyra. Now it's time to light out the final act: Planet of the Arps.

The "Planet of the Arps" project actually started as an ambient music piece I composed and recorded back in 2010.
Because the music is slightly outside the REMY-tradition, I decided to use a pseudonym for this project.
As soon as the first version of the project was finished, I got in touch with Wolfram Spyra and asked him if he wanted to 'do something' with this 1-hour piece. Although the piece was actually finished, it missed something I couldn't add myself at that moment.
In 2012 I performed the new version of the original piece, during a solo-concert at the Zeiss Planetarium in Bochum (Germany).
Wolfram and I have both been too busy with our own activities and projects, so that it didn't come to work on this track together until date. After the four years that passed by, the first collaborational offend finally will be a fact in the form of a live rework of a large part of the latest version of "Planet of the Arps".

"Planet of the Arps" refers to the science fiction movie "Planet of the Apes", arps (galaxies) as collected by Dr. Halton C. Arp, synthesizer manufacturer Arp, and the musical term 'arpeggio'.
The concept artwork below, which is being used to represent "Planet of the Arps", is a digital creation which I also made in the period of the first version of the project.

From the "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" press information:

As the ‘grand finale’ of this evening at the ruin, Wolfram Spyra will join Remy Stroomer for a real-time rework of Remy’s one hour ambient piece “Planet of the Arps”.
This original composition dates from 2010 and has been performed live by Remy at the Zeiss Planetarium in Bochum (Germany) in September 2012.
From the time the musical piece was finished, Remy wanted Wolfram to rework this track.
Now, four years later, this project has finally brought both artists together and an excerpt of this piece will be created live at the ruin.

For all information about "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" and ticket sales:

zondag 22 juni 2014

"Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" - Wolfram Spyra

Only 5 days to go to the concert evening I am organising at the Ruïne van Brederode, so the coming
time I will write some blog items about this upcoming event and related activities.

Recently I already supplied all global details and information about the event, and last week I also wrote about the openings act: Free Arts Lab, so now it's time to light out Wolfram Spyra.

There are actually two main reasons that I chose for Spyra's appearance at "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition". The first is that it coincides perfectly with the project I have had already in mind for a couple of years: "Planet of the Arps". Details about this can be read in my next blog, somewhere later this week.
Secondly, I think Wolfram is a well-respected and one of the best and most innovating artists of electronic music around. By means of compositions as well as sound creation.
When I talked with him about the plans I had to organise this upcoming concert evening, he was very excited to perform at such a wonderful location.

I have already had the privilege to listen to the upcoming Spyra-album: "Staub" (which hopefully is available at "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition"). The result is a wonderful album where 6 rather minimalistic but powerful electronic music pieces are being exposed. Wolfram Spyra did a lot of raw sequencing and oscillating and went back in time and back to basic to re-invent himself.
This release might definitely appeal listeners of 'Berliner Schule', but is also in the likes of for example the music of Nils Frahm and Ölafur Arnalds.

From the "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" press information:

Wolfram Spyra (1964) is a composer of electronic music, sound artist born in Eschwege in Germany. Sound is his art form. He has worked for film, television, theatre, dance and as sound designer.
Spyra began his career in the early 1990s constructing soundscapes and installations around Germany. He has collaborated with a wide range of visual artists, musicians, producers and DJs and released several albums, starting in 1995 with “Homelistening Is Killing Clubs”.
Spyra’s focus is on electronic music. While sometimes experimental, most of his music has a certain acces-sibility in terms of the rhythmic and melodic components.
Spyra’s new album will be released in June 2014 and reveals the complexity and strangeness in analog synthesis. He calls his new found genre ‘post-electronic’. The record will have its world-wide live premiere at “Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition” at the Ruïns of Brederode on June 27th.

Within a couple of days the last blog will be dedicated to Planet of the Arps.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpyraMusic

For all information about "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" and ticket sales:

woensdag 18 juni 2014

"Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" - Free Arts Lab

Only 9 days to go to the concert evening I am organising at the Ruïne van Brederode, so the coming days I will write some blog items about this upcoming event and related activities.
Last time I already supplied all global details and information about the event, so now it's time to light out the performing acts.

Starting with the opening act of "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition": Free Arts Lab.

Somewhere in 2013 I was being asked to do a concert in Theater De Wegwijzer in Zeeland (in the south-west of the Netherlands).
January 10th, 2014, this concert took place, and it opened new paths for future electronic music performances in this small theatre in near future.
When I constructed the show for this evening, I had various ideas about the performance.
In the first place the show should be more than just me playing synthesizers. Which might be rather boring to look at, especially at such a location.
So I decided to include visuals, which I compiled carefully to fit with the music to be performed.
Secondly the performance itself had to be dynamic, should sound more organic and must also be interesting to look at. To solve this issue, I invited two friends, who were capable of involving their musical skills and visions into my music.
Martijn Scholte (guitar/bowed guitar) and Jeroen Hagen (drums/percussion) joined the line-up, and after the concert we all decided to continue our collaboration. "Free Arts Lab" (which refers to the famous Zodiak Free Arts Lab) was born.

During the Theater De Wegwijzer concert, we performed around 90 minutes. Containing existing and released tracks, as well as new - especially for this ocassion - recorded music.
For "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" and for concerts later this year, we have been very busy rehearsing an adjusted setlist, which contains a selection from the Zeeland-concert, as well as some fresh new tracks and improvisations.

Here you can read the official press information for "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition", which covers the complete story and background information so far:

The group Free Arts Lab is founded in 2014 in Haarlem by Remy Stroomer (keyboards/ synthesizers), Martijn Scholte (guitar/bowed guitar) and Jeroen Hagen (drums/percussion). All three come from a different musical background.
With Remy’s electronic and ambient compositions, the name refers to the Zodiak Free Arts Lab or ‘Zodiak Club’. This club in Berlin once was a place where musicians were unlimited in developing their experimentation. From the same point of view and free state of mind of musical creativity, Free Arts Lab combines different art forms together in live performances and studio recordings.

Remy Stroomer (1979, keyboards/synthesizers/compositions) starts to take keyboard-lessons at the age of nine and around the same time, he creates his first compositions. At the end of 1999, Remy’s first album “Exhibition of Dreams” is released as a double-cdr on the independent AKH Records and that marks the start of a enduring career as an award winning solo-artist. Besides, Remy also collaborated with Ron Boots, Synth.nl (Michel van Osenbruggen), Gert Emmens and My Breath My Music. He has released thirteen solo-albums under his own name.

Martijn Scholte (1978, guitar/bowed guitar) has played and sang in various poprock and progressive rockbands, besides his singer-songwriting. His musical inspirations are mainly This will destroy you, Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, Helios, Sigur Rós, Hammock, Patrick Watson, Gravenhurst, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd and Radiohead. By combining and experimenting with a variety of styles, Scholte aims at a wide sound. His choice for bowed guitar stems from his affection for Sigur Rós’ music and his love for the cello. This results in an extra dimension and a soundscape from his guitar.

Jeroen Hagen (1970, drums/percussion) has a broad interest for music and art. His musical foundation is influenced by bands from the sixties, the early seventies and the nineties. He has been part of several bands, covering symphonic rock, rock, grunge and folk, mainly from the Rotterdam-area. His most important influences are The Beatles, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Yes, Bob Dylan, The Who, Neil Young, Stone Temple Pilots, Norman Cook, Pearl Jam, Weezer, Johnny Cash and The Black Crowes.

Official website: www.freeartslab.nl


Next blog items will be about Wolfram Spyra and Planet of the Arps.

For all information about "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition" and ticket sales:

zondag 8 juni 2014

New music pc in the studio

Last week I picked up a new music pc.
My previous computer had been in my studio since 2007 (after having worked for years with my precious Atari ST), and after having done the maximum cpu and memory upgrades and having installed Windows 7, last year, this 'oldie' seemed to have more and more problems to run stable.
Within the last years I got more demanding concerning sound quality and useage of VST's, so I was asking more of the computer's cpu and memory.

Since a couple of weeks I already got some harddisc error-messages, and the rebooting seemed to be a problem more and more.
Recently I didn't manage to get the pc turned on anymore. When switching on the computer, only the fan started to rotate.
Although I did already plan to buy a new system somewhere later this year, I was really hoping for a replacement after the upcoming "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition", for which I still have to do some production work. So it would have been really great if my workstation could have served me at least for another month.

My previous music-pc was built by i4-Muzique in Eindhoven, and because I was very satisfied, I also bought the new one from them this time. They customize rather silent computers, built in 19" units, so it fits perfectly into my studio rack. One of the advantages was that my old housing could just be re-used for the new system.

Within the coming days I hope to reinstall all software, connect all equipment, and get the new pc running again, so I can continue working on the last bits for the Free Arts Lab performance and collaboration with Wolfram Spyra, on June 27th.
After this I am already really looking forward to work on more upcoming planned projects with Gert Emmens, Synth.nl, C-Jay and Free Arts Lab, as well as on the continuation of a very long-running exciting project for which I finally might have some more time again. Hope to reveal some details about this soon.

donderdag 29 mei 2014

Pletterij Impro Sessies

Last Thursday I was part of an unprepared improvisation session at the Pletterij in Haarlem.
It was the fourth time the "Pletterij Improvisatie Sessies" were being held.

The edition that kicked off the concept in november 2013, in fact before the actual first edition of this series of improvisation sessions, was done by the improvisational formation "Lumière".
Two members of this band, Fedde ten Berge (self-made electronic devices) and Tjalling Schrik (drums and percussion), also joined last week's session.
The line-up was supplemented by me playing synthesizers, Just van Rossum (guitar) and Tristan "Lama Waaien" (bass guitar).

We did two sessions of approximately 45 minutes. Can't tell you exactly how long, because it felt like we played only 5 or 10 minutes. Which is a good thing, I think. Because I was rather focussed on my part and anticipating on the other contribution of the musicians, I wasn't totally aware of the final result we created together.
During the sessions I had an indication which direction the music was evolving into, but through the stage monitors it was hard to judge what the output really sounded like.
According to the many positive reactions from the audience, our sessions were well-received.
Now I am waiting with excitement for the recordings that have been made during the evening, to judge myself.

For now, there can already be seen an 18-minute excerpt from the second session:

Thanks to Arno Duivestein and Rob Brakel from De Pletterij and Joost Verhagen from the Haarlemse Popscene for making this series of unique collaborations possible.
I think it's a great initiative to organise these kind of events.
Where normally musicians with the same backgrounds are being put together for improvisation sessions, there has been carefully chosen to put together musicians with various backgrounds. Which might be a good starting point to create surprising music and discover unexplored musical areas.
Although there is a certin risk that a session might result into something disastrous, the organisation can be congratulated with the fact that (the chosen selection of musicians participating) recent sessions lead to very satisfying results.

Hopefully a lot of inspiring sessions will follow in future. And it would be great to be part of it again.
The next edition will be during the World Championship soccer-match Netherlands - Spain, June 13th. Where another selection of musicians improvise around the live broadcast of this match!

And for now, I have to focus on the preparations and rehearsals for the upcoming "Chill at the Castle - Electric Edition", which I am organising at the Ruïne van Brederode, on June 27th.