He can’t possibly remember, but Radboud Mens and I have already been in touch once, sometimes in the second half of the 90s. Indeed it was he who contacted me one day from Staalplaat – where he used to work – when my credit card was (unsurprisingly) declined after having ordered a batch of expensive Roland Kayn vinyl boxes. Mens assisted me through the successful completion of the ordering process via another method of payment, thus finalizing my entrance in totally new realms of my acoustically-enhanced existence.
Today’s Radboud is a skilled creator of tranquil soundscapes that are not really “tranquil”. At least, they are on the surface only: the mono-chordal harmonies, the minimalist aura, the obligatory bleeps and glitches. But try and raise the volume, and the idle “ambient” definition – which this writer has come to hate by now – is ready to get thrown into the trashcan. Herein lies a pulsating life beyond the countless mirrors refracting fluorescent lights. The lower frequencies purr at certain junctures, but also fight and rumble elsewhere; the atmosphere is not that of a blue sky, more of a perturbed grey with a few glimmering openings. Apparent “melodies” reveal themselves to be intertwined splashes, perhaps painted with computerized waste materials. The intrinsic rhythms push the listener to pay real attention to the substance. And there is much of it in the very insides of these apparently harmless textures; you just need to take thy stethoscope and walk, as a young Roger Waters would have it.
Speaking of “ambient”, let’s politely remind everybody that when Brian Eno was given the famous album he couldn’t enjoy loud enough while bedridden (hence his illumination in regard to music as an environmental complement), he was initially attempting to listen to the damn thing. What I mean is that reducing Cycle to mere wallpaper would be a serious mistake. It’s instead an excellent sample of contemporary electronica – with rather vivacious sonic spermatozoa swimming underneath – exposing unexpected resonances and kernels of vibrating matter, but still remaining in the ambit of a comfortable aural experience.