“Eau” sees the return pairing of Dutch experimentalists Mariska Baars (Soccer Committee, L.M.R.W, Piipstjilling) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek, Piipstjilling, L.M.R.W and many more collaborations). Both artists are adept explorers of sound, working together in a variety of quartets with Rutger through his Machinefabriek alias being well known for his work, especially collaborations with the likes of Aaron Martin, Gareth Hardwick and Stephen Vitiello to name a few. Not restricted to purely the musical sphere, he also records for dance works, installations and other projects. His releases tend to also feature his design work which nicely compliments the music and has tempted me on more than one occasion to get the “Sahara Mixtape” cassette despite not owning a cassette player for the best part of twenty years.

“Mariska Baars and Rutger Zuydervelt go way back. And although they regularly work together in the quartet Piiptsjilling, their last effort as a duo stems from 2008, the album ‘Drawn’ (on Foxy Digitalis/Morc).  But now ‘eau’ is here. ‘eau’ (pronounced “oh”) means ‘water’ in French, and that’s how it sounds; like gently rocking waves of sound, or like a babbling sonic stream of fractured audio debris. It also sounds a bit like the equivalent of sunlight dancing on the ripples of a lake’s surface.

The thirty minute single piece “eau” feels like it could be part of a live interpretive dance piece, sound installation or soundtrack to a silent film. “Eau” has a free flowing feel that has motifs that reappear throughout without being repetitive or predictable. Musically it transcends genre clarifications slipping in jazz sounds, ambient tones, experimental guitar works, chimes, haunted female torch song singing, gritty and granular soundscapes move through winding territories taking the listener on a journey that is map less. The name and its meaning described in the press release above is fitting as the piece has a very fluid feel (and if you look closer it slightly hinted in the blue tones of the artwork and the video below).

The piece’s opening is where the abstraction starts (with the same vocal snippets also closing the piece), from this point it gets as conventional as it ever will be with the faintest hint of ambience being created with buzzing tones. Around the half way mark the piece goes through a debris section which changes its completion by introducing a collection of disparate sounds that give it a grittiness and also highlight the excellent mastering job of Stephen Mathieu which gives the section a real depth of sound and textures for the listener to feel in a physical sense. A note should be made about the angelic and manipulated vocals of Baars that find their way winding in an out, sometimes singularly, others as a choir through sections of the piece. The pace of the piece is part of its success as it never rushes through its course. Sure, some sections are more sonicly dense than others, but all are consistent in the way that they let the sounds reveal themselves naturally. This is a piece of music that reveals more of its character with each listen and is a welcome addition to both artists catalogs.

“eau” is available for pre-order now with a release date of May 10. It is available on CD and Digital.

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