Fragments in Found Sound
Eric Benoit - February 17, 2008
by Eric Benoit
The compositional arrangement of fragments of found sounds and musical interludes requires an artist’s obsessive attention to detail and direction to fully succeed. Machinefabriek’s Rutger Zuydervelt, who hails from the Netherlands, makes stunning and effective of this practice. Since 2004, Machinefabriek has delivered an overwhelming string of limited self-released 3” cdrs and traditionally released titles. In four short years, he has released over 50 titles, at a pace that sometimes has new Machinefabriek work coming out on a weekly basis.
Admittedly, it’s a lot to process and finding a suitable way into Zuydervelt’s recordings can be daunting. So far, the most notable starting point among Machinefabriek’s vast output is 2007 two-disc set Weleer, on the esteemed avant-garde electronics label Lampse, based in Manchester. ‘Weleer’, a collection of tracks culled from Zuydervelt’s 3” releases, is a testament not only to the individual works, but to the remarkable discipline and individuality of the Machinefabriek project. Elements expand, contract, and cast color and shadow in a relentless shift of texture across the set.
His reconfiguration of the individual pieces to create a newly full and cohesive musical narrative is an example of his profound abilities as a composer. This recording is a great beginning point for the investigation of his practice, but it shouldn’t signal the end of the exploration.
Each of Machinefabriek’s works is a navigation of structural tensions that lie within his musical dialogues. Rutger was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about his work and what lies in the future.
What were your influences growing up – art, music, etc?
I wasn't so much into art when i was young. And music... well, it started with synthesizer-music, then Nirvana, Metallica and then The Chemical Brothers and Prodigy. You won't be able to hear these as influences in my music, but maybe they formed me in some sort of way?
Was there one specific moment of influence or an instance that inspired you to pursue music?
A couple of years ago I saw Anne Laplantine play at a festival in Amsterdam. She looped her guitar with a pedal. That's when I realized that was the answer to my search for a good way to make live music.
I had read that you were schooled in graphic design. Have you had any schooling in music, and if so would you elaborate on your journey to this point?
I did piano lessons for a year or five, and guitar lessons for three years. Nothing academic, but enough to have some basic skills.
To what degree do you feel that your training in art affects your sound work?
Not sure. Maybe my training in making layouts reflects in the way I make my compositions? No idea...
What circumstances do you feel lead to the creation of your works?
I just have this continuous restlessness in my head. It's just a matter of taking some time. Maybe if it was possible, I would make music for 24 hours a day.
How do you go about your compositional/arrangement process?
First I record basic tracks. This can be some improvisation on an instrument. Then I use the laptop to chop that recording up and use the different pieces as Lego, to make a composition.
How do you translate your works into the live setting? Do you utilize any visual elements within your performances?
Most of my live performances are based on using one main instrument (for instance guitar, lapsteel or autoharp) and bunch of effect- and loop-pedals. I also try to have the place as dark as possible to have no visual distraction from the music.
What future works do you have planned, any specific collaborations, etc?
There will be a collaborative LP with Frans de Waard, a cd with Richard Skelton (A Broken Consort), a Mort Aux Vaches cd on Staalplaat, a cd with Mariska Baars and Robert Deters on Digitalis and probably a lot more