B: Mackerel Sky
‘Ghost Lanes’ is one several collaborations between electronic musician Rutger Zuydervelt’s Machinefabriek and clarinetist Gareth Davis. ‘Ghost Lanes’ was recorded in 2009 at Amsterdam’s STEIM (Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music) “the only independent live electronic music centre in the world that is exclusively dedicated to the performing arts,” and was originally released as a three inch Cdr. The partner piece, ‘Mackerel Sky’ was recorded at the same facilities a year and a half later. Both of these recordings are now available together on LP from Dekorder, plotting beautifully the growth of Davis and Stuydernvelt’s musical friendship.
Metallic scrabbling with breath filled key slaps slowly wander into the ears as ‘Ghost Lanes ‘ begins. Davis’ clarinet screams and burbles within the fugitive electronic atmosphere. These are desolate lands. Brooding chords roll underneath rain spatters, guttural high frequency tones and fluttered tremolos. Subtle and explosive multiphonics blend and break entrancingly within the barbarous severity of Zuydervelt’s impenetrable electronics. A visual quality is created, sepia tones and growling rivers of dark ages harmony form a filmstrip in the mind of an empty landscape populated only with abandoned buildings and contemplation.
Wasteland vegetation fills in every available niche along this cryptic urban circuit board. The clarinet unsettles the mood further by adding a strange lunacy of attack to this depopulated inscape. This record is heavy with ceremony. Entrancing, meditative, pensive, these are sounds for divination. The organic and the machinic are communicating with each other in an area where the traffic is dense but the persona are few and far between. Are these the lanes ghosts move through in their emanation through the labyrinths of clairaudience?
Velvet with liquid gilding is setting in ‘Mackerel Sky’, a vista of harmonic resonance in the cathedral space between day and night. Primal intuition warns in this expanse then thunderously becomes clear. The quiet intensity of the harmonic sequence begins to overwhelm as waves of light cleanse the mind. The gulfs within the spectrum are held in temporary balance by the scales in the sky as all the different frequencies mesh into night.
Listening to these performances I am struck by the intense feeling of communication and embrace between Zuydervelt and Davis, and how masterfully their art communicates to me, the listener. These recordings work well for casual background listening, seaming together the pieces of daily life with a sonic continuity, but with a more mindful listen ‘Ghost Lanes’ and ‘Mackerel Sky’ becomes an introspective experience, conjuring images and feelings of unity and balance. These recordings are exceptional, and I highly recommend them, especially to fans of experimental classical music.