Rutger Zuydervelt – Sileen II

(Edition Wandelweiser)

Sometimes the coincidences in one’s life appear so precisely charted to become momentous events that it’s hard to think of them as the ramifications of stochastic processes as they actually are. Take for example Sileen II, a work that acquired a completely different shape and complexion in the studio version as opposed to its genesis in 2016, fully orchestral and therefore influenced by the individual predispositions and physical strengths/weaknesses of the involved players (the whole story is narrated by the composer in the liners).

Whereas the fruit of the original commission was a collective texture born from the alumni of a music school, for this rendition Rutger Zuydervelt (known in other contexts as Machinefabriek) elected to restrict the palette to electronics plus a lone purely acoustic voice, the latter component embodied by renowned clarinetist Gareth Davis. To enrich a rather simple compositional anatomy — a constantly shifting ebb-and-flow of overlapping pitches alternating with silences — the mere timbral juxtaposition was evidently not enough for Zuydervelt, in spite of the quasi-Niblockian assembling methodology. Dissatisfied with the result, he was aided by a stroke of serendipity when attempting to slow the piece down at half-speed to quickly realize that the target had been hit.

Indeed these 50 minutes represent now a transitional utopia of much needed internal calmness. The natural intensity of the vibrating matter allows a responsive listener to perceive otherwise uncatchable frequency beatings, extemporaneous clusters, murmured undertones and mind-aligning resonances as an antidote against the conflictual signals disseminated by the quotidian. The ensemble’s inevitably flawed humanness has morphed into a self-sufficient sonic organism incapable of spelling words like “wound” or “regret”. Even when a relieving hum highlights them.