MARISKA BAARS / RUTGER ZUYDERVELT – Eau

Self Release

Already a prolific creative specimen when he acts alone, Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek) reminds us of his collaborative potential in this joint venture with vocalist Mariska Baars, the pair having worked for a long time in diverse contexts. Baars is the owner of a sweet timbre, between an angelic soprano and a singer of hypnotic lullabies. And, in fact, “mesmerizing” is the adjective to accurately depict the essence of Eau.

Besides the voice, the acoustic palette comprises an electric guitar – some of its components presumably enhanced with preparations – plus small percussive sources (a mbira, or equivalent African instrument, materializes in places to add pinches of tangibleness) and, just maybe, an electronic keyboard for further degrees of luminescence. All in all, the merely instrumental matters range from cleanly picked/plucked tones and harmonics to mild rattles, gently crackling noises and subsurface hums. Zuydervelt subjected the mix to a looping process, in which Baars’ cantillated particles surface, dissolve or superimpose upon themselves.

The textural wholeness often fluctuates, a perfectly tonal segment turning into its very image reflected on a liquefied surface, the contours imprecise and trembling. Those are the junctures where the music becomes genuinely charming, its cuddling traits fully functional. For a vague idea, imagine a blend of Akira Rabelais’ Spellewauerynsherde and the most ethereal imagery elicited by the Andy Moor/Yannis Kyriakides interaction, slightly altered by a set of colored lenses.

As recommended by the artists, this single 30-minute piece needs the “repeat” mode for best results. It’s simply constructed and bewitchingly graceful, its reiterative sonority appearing as a natural phenomenon with calming properties.

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