Home Normal have brought about the re-release of Jason van Wyk’s “Attachment” that originally came out on the Eilean Rec label, alongside his new album “Opacity”. Jason van Wyk is a Cape Town, South Africa based electronic artist who has predominantly released Trance and IDM. The newly remastered album comes eighteen months after its original release, this time as a 500 run edition as opposed to the original 130 copies.
Home Normal boss Ian Hawgood had the job of mastering the original release. He had this to say: “One of the great joys of being a mastering engineer is when you come across a release so special, that you simply feel an innate privilege in the process, and unadulterated joy in helping something in the final stages of its fruition. Jason has been releasing electronic music since the tender age of just 14. Whilst he continues to be known for this work, his most recent output has seen him focus on his beautiful piano playing, intertwined this with his subtle sound design and wide open soundscapes.
’Attachment’ was his first foray into an ambient / post-classical piano cross-over, and it was met with acclaim, selling out of its limited edition immediately. Quite apart from being a breath of fresh air with its flowing and soulful piano elements, the sound design and lush melodious pads just had me absolutely hooked. After creating a very clean master of ‘Attachment’, I felt there was another layer to be told in the work, with its close recording techniques, dusty piano tones, and overall warmth. After inviting Jason to release his follow-up on Home Normal, we also agreed that a complete remaster using tapes would be a lovely way of approaching ‘Attachment’ again.”
“Kept” opens with a natural sounding recording of piano with the ambience of the room being recorded as well. The piano has a padding on the hammers which gives it a bristle like percussive sound as the keys are played. Walls of windscreen Synth drones slowly start creeping in the mix as the piano playing starts to have a sense of urgency and the drones start building up and vanquish the piano. Some clattering sounds like a flag blowing in the wind appear before a quick piano reprise is swamped by the drones and a slightly throbbing Synth line.
“Before” field recordings , airy drones, piano and acoustic guitar combined create a track that at the start has a Message to Bears like feel before the electronics and percussion arrive to take this in another direction that fuses folktronica and post rock influenced electronica, but then abruptly changes to a solo piano modern classical track. Circulating Synth drones compliment the piano till the tracks end.
“Coherence” cinematic drones gently ease the listener accompanied by the sound of decay before the music picks up in grandeur with medium paced piano and complimenting strings. The track feels like it is just getting started when it finishes. Being a little over two minutes, it could easily and gladly cover three times that length and be equally enjoyable.
“Unsaid” has a similar natural recording to kept, however this time the piano playing has more of a sense of romantic urgency as van Wyk fingers gently glide across the keys. With a length of one minute Abdi two seconds it is a nice vignette.
“Return” much like “Kept” and “Unsaid” features that ‘natural’ piano recording technique which gives it an authenticity sometimes missing in Modern Classical where it is more about the feel than the sound and the feel of the piano. The music has a slightly melancholic feel which ever so subtly paired with drones that make the sound feel fleshed out, but still make the piano the lead instrument.
“Stay” is where the electronics and drones come into focus create a tapestry of sound with some backwards effects and field recording like augmentation. The piano with its strident playing in a driven fashion provides the transition between the two drone sections, the second of which is accompanied by regular glitches, soaring sections and a more overall noisy feel than its predecessor.
“Red” deftly played solo piano that shares some of the same emotion as the others and the same style of recording.
“Found” a long spindly drone starts becoming joined with an almost accordion like drone before a single piano key signals them to retreat to the background before the quickly paced and complimenting piano is joined by a long haunting violin piece as the drones hover and attach themselves to the piano at certain times which expands the sound making it fully, but at no point taking it away and changing the feature of the track which is the playing if the piano. All the elements work well and thus shows van Wyk at his best in the way that the track is constructed and the placement in the constituent places work so well.
“Evanesce” Grainy static mixed with a funereal drone that shares an icy feel and church organ touch dominates the track. The track is mammoth with its drones that come across like Brian Eno’s classic “An Ending (Ascent)” in the way that they convey that floating on air ambience that when achieved results in a stunning listen.
“Outset” sees van Wyk return to his more trance based past with bubbly electronics with a Tangerine Dream feel roll around joined by string drones and minimal piano stabs. The sound builds up quickly and dramatically falls away to a distant drone version of the track, like it is buried deep in the ground. There is a feeling of experiencing the music from up high. The electronics bubble at low volume almost out of hearing while field recordings , the piano stabs and minimalist drones lead to another slightly less dramatic stop. It would have been great if the ending straight away brought back the intensity of the start with the electronics to make it come full circle.
“Away” starts off slowly with piano and matching drones before the theirs movement changes thirty seconds in and brings the intensity up in the playing. The mood changes slightly around the one minute, 7 second mark with turn to melancholy.
“Depart” takes the album to the end with an almost pure drone track that changes ever so slightly two thirds into the track with the addition of the piano. Up to this point you feel you will be taken away to the drone-scapes, which are as cinematic as they get augmented by field recordings of some sort of wind disturbance/static, before the focus is the desolate piano which is paired perfectly with the timbre of the drones.
“Attachment” is an enjoyable listen and for me works best when the songs are fuller, with the drones or electronics added. The solo piano pieces are enjoyable, but as the recording technique is the same, they can across as similar sounding on first pass. You can see why Home Normal saw fit to re-release it. Recommended.
Original 2016 master: