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SERIES: Meet the Belgian & Dutch electronic music scene (part 1)

Both Belgium and The Netherlands host an impressive electronic music scene. Unfortunately, apart from Machinefabriek, most of these electronic musicians are hardly known across their national borders.

Both Belgium and The Netherlands host an impressive electronic music scene. Unfortunately, apart from Machinefabriek, most of these electronic musicians are hardly known across their national borders.

Gonzo (circus) has always paid a lot of attention to these artists and the scene in our magazine and on our compilation cd Mind The Gap. But lately we felt it was time to present these musicians to a broader audience worldwide. Electronic musician and specialist Sietse van Erve compiled a mixtape and wrote a short introduction on each artist. This is a limited and personal choice, there is much more to be discovered and Gonzo (circus) will keep you up to date!

Enjoy this mixtape and don’t hesitate to book these artists or support them by buying their records.

1. Kasper van Hoek

Kasper van Hoek (The Hague) studied arts at Academie Minerva and The Frank Mohr Institute and is currently based in Groningen, where he runs HeilsKabaal record label. In 2003 he started experimenting with heavily processed electronic music. Lately he approaches his sound live, using self-build string instruments as a sound source. His first simple single stringed instruments evolved into more complex instruments, while at the same time he developing his own playing technique. This makes it possible for him to create long sustaining tones but also more abrasive, dissonant sounds. His major influences are Harry Partch and Terry Riley. Recently he has also started making his own effect pedals. Currently, Kasper van Hoek is working on new studio material for his first solo album since 2010. And second album of his band Sexton Creeps is coming out soon. kaspervanhoek.net

Selective discography
Minerva (Self-released, 2006)
A Light Year Of Sundays (HeilsKabaal, 2008)
De Valse Wolfskwint En Andere Fabeldieren (HeilsKabaal, 2011)

2. Staplerfahrer

In the early nineties Steffan de Turck’s ears were opened up by Frans de Waard. De Waard’s alias, ‘Kapotte Muziek’ (Broken Music) described perfectly what De Turck wanted to do and his first project was born: aMP, which was all about harsh rhythmic noise.  In 2003 De Turck became Staplerfahrer: a mix of microsound, drones and musique concrète. His current work is based on his own field-recordings. Live, De Turck improvises with tape-loops, contact microphones and synthesizers, as well as many other objects (such as an old photo camera). For his many collaborations he prefers the same approach, especially when working with Sindre Bjerga and Jan M. Iversen (as A Vibrant Struggle) or with Wouter Jaspers (as Preliminary Saturation). De Turck and Jaspers recorded a huge amount of music and they cut out the best bits to release as new works. Steffan de Turck is also involved with Vatican Analog collective and runs the label DIM Records. Upcoming is a new release as part of the BromBron series (on Korm Plastics): a collaboration with Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson. Also next up is release by Preliminary Saturation. And he started a new Dark Wave project – HEXENEICHE – with his wife Leilani Trowell. staplerfahrer.nl

Selective solo discography
Scsi Vs Ata (TibProd. 2004)
Treetops (HeilsKabaal Records, 2007)
Burying Lamps in the Deep Solitude (Striate Cortex, 2012)
Perron 58 (Self-released, 2013)
The Four Elements (Moving Furniture Records, 2013)

3. Orphax

Amsterdam based musician and trained drummer Sietse van Erve was introduced to electronic music in the early nineties. After playing around with tracker software, he eventually recorded his first music with beats and melodies in 1998, but soon lost interest in both. He started researching new sounds and new ways of working – always with an organic touch, including incorporating sounds that would be regarded by others as errors or mistakes, as life isn’t without errors either. Most of his work is improvised, using a laptop and random objects ranging from keyboards, plastic cups being played with a bow, to vocals. The result is an organic lo-fi form of drone and minimal music.
Besides being organic most of the Orphax’s releases are melancholic and even sad. Musical influences are Eliane Radigue, Catherine Christer Hennix and Kassel Jaeger as well as folk and classical music from India and Tibet, mainly throat and overtone singing. Besides making music, Sietse van Erve runs Moving Furniture Records and curates concerts at home and at Amsterdam institute STEIM. Next up is a series of recordings based on his throat singing and a tour to promote his latest album. movingfurniturerecords.com

Selective solo discography:
In A Long Night (Self-released, 2004)
A Room With A View (Striate Cortex, 2011)
Confused (Self-released, 2012)
Un cœur, Deux cœurs, Un cœur, Sans cœur (Broken20, 2013)
De Tragedie van een Liedjesschrijver Zonder Woorden (Moving Furniture Records, 2013)

4. Machinist

Utrecht based Zeno van den Broek started out his project Machinist in 2006 while still living in Rotterdam. His multidisciplinary approach aims at a synergy of the audible, the visual and the spatial through albums, performances, installations and paintings. Live he combines projections and improvised sound to create a unique spatial intervention. For his performance at Mediamatic: Echokamer earlier this year, he used the resonance of the large hall as an extra instrument in combination with sine waves, creating an evolving sound experience related to the location of the listener within the space. On his albums he seeks to create a similar experience for your living room. In his early works this resulted in mainly heavy, oppressing, dark mood music, while his recent work is more conceptual and abstract, focusing on creating spatiality. In his installations he combines visuals and sound to create a full immersive experience for the spectator. His most recent installation is ‘Four Corners’: four prints of photos of corners on which moiré patterns are printed corresponding with the directions of the planes that join in each corner. These patterns serve as a visual score to the audio, where the length of each line is transposed to the wavelength of sine waves creating a new musical scale. Zeno van den Broek is also one of the founders of the PAUME-foundation which organizes events. Van den Broeks next album will be based on these new musical scales generated by mathematical sequences. Also a DVD of his live audiovisual performance will be released. zenovandenbroek.com

Selective discography:
Cyclus I (Betontoon, 2008)
Machinist vs. Ondo (Self-released, 2008)
Viens Avec Moi Dans Le Vide (Betontoon, 2010)
Of What Once Was (Moving Furniture Records, 2011)
Convergence (Narrominded, 2012)

5. Tim Hollander

Tim Hollander is a very young audiovisual Amsterdam based artist. First venturing into music only a year and a half ago, his experiments are all about contrast, detail and structure, with room for failure. With no background or training in music he works with very little means, e.g. on ‘Preset’ he uses deep house presets and the sound of an old chair to create loops that play in different speeds, making the different rhythms collide throughout the tracks. The skeleton of each piece is recorded in one take, leaving space for errors and improvisation. Hollander is inspired by experimental dance music and more abstract forms of modular synthesis, e.g. made by Keith Fullerton Whitman. For his visual work, on the other hand, he often works with a set of rules, such as the display in a museum or the rules of an encyclopedia. Within these boundaries he creates fantastic stories that still sound credible. Currently Hollander is graduating in arts, while working on an EP and sometimes  performing. timhollander.com

Selective discography:
Conversations with a chair (Self-released, 2012)
Preset (Self-released, 2013)

6. Machinefabriek

Rotterdam based Machinefabriek (Rutger Zuydervelt) is probably the most prolific musician in the contemporary Dutch electronic music scene. Hitting the scene in 2004, his early work was influenced by post rock, ambient, the Warp record label and noise, but has since shifted to electro-acoustic improvisation, microtonal and minimal music. While in the early days of his carreer he often incorporated melody or rhythm, nowadays he is focusing on the texture of the sound. The design of Zuydervelt’s releases is of a constant high quality: as graphic designer he considers this an overall part of his work. Design and sound are a joint body of work, often playful and self conscious, like when using stickers stating “I’d rather have my hand slammed in a car door than listen to machinefabriek” (referring to a rather negative review of his work). Apart from working on a few dance and film scores, busy bee Zuydervelt is teaming up with Michel Banabila, Aaron Martin and CMKK (Celer, Machinefabriek, Jan & Romke Kleefstra). machinefabriek.nl

Selective solo discography:
Marijn (Lampse, 2006)
Ranonkel (Burning World Records, 2008)
Dauw (Dekorder, 2008)
Sol Sketeches (Champion Version/Self-released, 2011)
Stroomtoon (Nuun Records, 2012)
Doepfer Worm (Entr’acte, 2013)

7. Puin + Hoop

The small village Rijsenhout – in the vicinity of Amsterdam – is home to the sound studio of Erik Uittenbogaard, Remco Verhoef and Roald van Dillewijn, also known as Puin + Hoop (a wordplay on the Dutch words “puinhoop” – mess, ruin – and “hoop”, hope).
Every fortnight they improvise with guitar, piano, synthesizer, bass guitar, max/MSP and loads of effects, creating ambient drone music. Their influences are very broad: Verhoef mentions eighties Russian punk bands, while Uittenbogaard draws his inspiration from watching movies, while Van Dillewijn is stimulated by his other collaborations. In true DIY style – inspired by Dutch alternative band De Kift – they always add something theatrical to make the experience more fun. In November a new CD will be released on Narrominded, swiftly followed by another one. Puin + Hoop will also perform during De Popronde, a promotional concert series for young bands.  myspace.com/puingeefthoop

Selective discography:
Headphone Sessions (Tbfkagnk Records, 2007)
Boze Brijven van Bijkaart (Tbfkagnk Records, 2009)
Door (Narromind, 2010)
De Objectieve Lach (with Herman Wilken and Coen Oscar Polack) (Narrominded, 2010)

8. Coen Oscar Polack

As a founding member of the Narrominded label Coen Oscar Polack has been around for quite a while. As Psychon (Troopers) (with Lars Mijer and Jantijn Prins) and Living Ornaments (with Lars Mijer) he mainly made ambient techno and IDM. His current solo work has shifted towards drones and field-recordings, focussing on texture and dynamics and recently also on tonality. As a result Polack released several solo albums and made some site-specific installations, e.g. a commissioned work for the bells in the carillon of the Grote of Sint Bavokerk in Haarlem, which was released as Spectral Churches in 2011. He considers Biosphere, Irresistible Force, Pete Namlook and Brian Eno his most early influences. Recently he has been inspired by Francisco López, Daniel Menche and artists on the Touch label.  For his new project with Herman Wilken (also in Hydrus) – usually making IDM and techno as well as rhythmless sound works – Polack combines traditional ambient and abstract drones with field recordings. Their collaboration will soon result in a second album, ‘Fathomless’, while a new solo album and a new site-specific work in in Haarlem are also in the works. narrominded.com

Selective discography:
Psychon – Apocalypse Has Been Dubbed The Weekend Pill (Scarcelight Recordings, Narrominded, 2004)
Psychic Investigations (Narrominded, 2008)
Geluiden Uit De Blauwe Kamer (Narrominded, 2009)
The Language Of Mountinas Is Rain (with Herman Wilken) (Narrominded, 2009)
Spectral Churches (Narrominded, 2011)

9. Martijn Comes

Growing up in an eighties suburb of Leeuwarden, Martijn Comes started to make music at the tender age of 12. Inspired by MTV and American sitcoms, he chose to escape the suburban boredom by focussing on his Yamaha synth and Fasttrack II, learning the techniques of sample based working. A practice he still applies, though nowadays with more advanced synths, software, hardware and sometimes guest musicians.  Studying Digital Communications in Utrecht he discovered electro and nineties IDM and got his first DJ gigs. Moving to Montreal, Canada, in 2005 he got in involved in the guitar music scene, but he also worked with Joshua Treble and Mitchell Akiyama (both from Desormais). After returning to Amsterdam he studied film music with Jurre Haanstra as a mentor at the Conservatory, learning to make music in a more formal, accessible, narrative way. Comes’ music is like a journey in transit from your own habitat to other worlds waiting to be explored. Genres have thus become obsolete in his work. Martijn Comes is also producer of ‘Kraak Helder’ and ‘Inventions for Radio’ on Dutch broadcasting channel De Concertzender. Currently Comes works on music for a dance performance, a split EP with Twine (including guest musicians Jasper Barendregt and Lucrecia Dalt) and a tape/digital release with t-shirt, which will be the first release on his fresh new label.  martijncomes.nl

Selective discography:
Dominion (Clinical Archives, 2008)
Lostitude EP (Panospria, 2008)
Those Who Know Do Not Speak, Those Who Speak Do Not Know (Panospria, 2012)
Galactic Cinema EP (IO.Sound, 2013)

10. THU20

In the early eighties Roel Meelkop, Sjak van Bussel, Peter Duimelinks and Guido Doesburg played in a post-punk band Club Rialto while Doesburg and Jos Smolders formed Delfsch Wormenkoor. One night Club Rialto was asked for a gig, but due to circumstances they had to abandon the rock beats and turned to drones and noise. Unexpectedly, the audience was raving and THU20 was born, named after the day they rehearsed for this gig. After a while Doesburg left, while Frans de Waard (Kapotte Muziek) got more involved, these days being the fifth member of THU20.  Starting out as live improv band rooted in the DIY home tape scene, THU20 later composed some works in the studio. The distinct difference between live and studio material is still an issue.
While NON, SPK, Throbbing Gristle, Nurse With Wound and Cabaret Voltaire come to mind when listening to the early work, soon, when guitar, bass and rhythm box disappeared, avant-garde composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer became more important. THU20 hardly releases albums or plays live because all members have their own projects. Their recent double cd ‘Vroeg Werk’ on Monochrome Vision collects early live and studio recordings, and stresses their huge influence on the Dutch electronic music scene since the early eighties.
Although most of the time sluggish, THU20 is currently speeding  up with a new piece commissioned by GX Jupitter Larsen for the compilation ‘Zelphabet Vol. T’ and a new full length release, while a couple of weeks ago they rehearsed and recorded live at Extrapool in Nijmegen. Facebook

Selective discography:
Elfde Uni (Midas Music, 1990 / Flenix, 1999)
Eerste Schijf (Midas Music, 1990 / EARlabs, 2003)
Derde Schijf (Staalplaat, 1999)
Tilburg (Korm Plastics, 2008)
Vroeg Werk (Monochrome Vision, 2012)

11. Wouter van Veldhoven

By accident Wouter van Veldhoven encountered Pierre Bastien’s music at the age of 13 and has been fascinated ever since by the mechanical contraptions Bastien uses. Other early gurus of electronic music, such as Dick Raaijmakers, Delia Derbyshire, Pierre Henry, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Raymond Scott, equally excite Van Veldhoven. While he works with old tape recorders and analogue machines, Van Veldhoven’s music is quite different. Choosing these instruments partly because of his love for the wobbly sounds, the hiss and noise, and the unpredictability, he uses these aspects to stumble upon things musically. And as this is more fun to watch than a guy behind a laptop, he also uses this approach in his mechanically driven installation works that allow the audience to see what is going on. While his old work was rather ambient-esque, lately Van Veldhoven has been working on new techniques to create techno. This resulted in a tape on The Tapeworm and some live performances. There are also a new installation for art festivals and few short albums coming up, with ambient as well as rather rhythmically or chromatic oriented work. woutervanveldhoven.nl

Selective discography
Een Paar Schetsjes en Optredens 2005-2006 (Self-released, 2006)
Ruststukken (Slaapwel Records, 2007)
Four Simple Songs For Five Dead Bumblebees (Eat This Media, 2008)
Three Days of Fever (with Greg Haines) (Eat This Media, 2008)
Mort Aux Vaches (Staaplaat, 2009)
Redundant/Rotary/Rotations (The Tape Worm, 2013)

12. Matto Frank

Matto Frank is a project by Amsterdam based musician Frank Schouten. He creates his own sound world using urban field recordings. He tells a story with the partly autobiographic elements, like recordings from his bedroom mixed with field-recordings from China, improvising and recording spontaneously on the spot without editing the results. It is a documentation of that specific moment, as pure as possible. The result: distorted sound clippings, noisy but with a bit of thoughtful structure. The blend of dance music with ambient sounds and really crazy field recordings is impressive.
The recordings also have a political undercurrent:  recordings from big shopping malls in China or from the Red Light District in Amsterdam show characteristics of capitalism, e.g. over-consumption and being slaves to earning money. Besides Matto Frank Frank Schouten is the artistic director of SOTU festival, hosts radio show Wasmachine at DFM RTV INT, runs Plattegrond Records and creates music as Hakki Takki (techno/IDM) and Frank Vis (vocal noise).  Schouten is working on two new releases for Moving Furniture Records and Narrominded, as well as the soundtrack for an art installation by Alejandro Ramirez for ‘De Kolenkit’, a deprived Amsterdam neighbourhood and finally, a soundtrack for a movie hosted by Rocket Cinema at FOAM during Amsterdam Museum Night. myspace.com/mattofrank

China (Narrominded, 2012)

13. Dyane Donck

At the Academy of Visual Arts St. Joost in Breda Dyane Donck first encountered twelve tone music and avant-garde. It led her to study sound technology at HKU Hilversum (Utrecht School of Arts), where she learned to listen and appreciate soundscapes and musique concrète, which she later produced at CEM Amsterdam (Centrum Elektronische Muziek). For years she combined music with visual arts e.g. in interactive installations she made with Jake de Vos. The combination of visuals and sound is a constant factor in her work. Even her pure sound works often get credited as being ‘visual’. Besides her electronic music works, Donck also plays bass, live electronics and sings in bands. Recently she mixes her experimental sound work with pop e.g. in her band Daisy Bell. Donck also composes work for ensembles, often combined with theatrical elements. For example the performance ‘Sex.Sleep.Eat.Drink.Dream’ for drums, bass, guitar, violin, cello, electronic, music boxes, wine glasses, projections and installation art, and ‘The Obscure Thoughts Of Isabella Green’ for gamelan, live electronics and vocals combined with film and graphic novel drawings, which she produced together with Richard Kruysdijk and Evelien van den Broek. Currently she is working with Kruysdijk and Van den Broek on ‘Darkness’, a piece for gamelan and electronics which will be performed by the three composers and Ensemble Gending. A Daisy Bell album and a tour are scheduled, as well as an installation with 3D Video mapping and live string quartet, and a composition for Slagwerkgroep Den Haag for three percussionists, three projector screens and three singers called HEX. And last but not least, she is exploring the idea of a full-length solo album related to DIY fashion. Dyane Donck has composed many works, a selection is available on her website. dyanedonck.com

Selective discography:
Dyane Donck & Daisy Bell – Proverbs Of Hell (Worm, 2012)

Research & text: Sietse van Erve
Editing: Ruth Timmermans & Maarten Schermer
Image: Maarten Claassens

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