Rutger Zuydervelt has been recording as Machinefabriek since 2004 and has a rich and varied discography that veers from sound collage to ambient to field recordings and beyond. On The Measures Taken (Zoharum, 2015), he has created a score for a dance production by the Alexander Whitley Dance Company, based in London. The production also included interactive visual projections created by the renowned Marshmallow Laser Feast studio, also based in London. The production had its debut in France in April 2014 and premiered in London at the Linbury Studio Theatre, Royal Opera House, one month later.
The composition itself features a brief introduction and is subsequently divided into four continuous parts. A minimal ticking begins the proceedings, and as reverberation is added, so too is a fixed counterpoint within the stereo image. The effect is simple yet effective, and immediately pulls one’s attention into focus.
The sections that follow display a balanced palette of drone, rhythm, ambience, and—the likes of which most surprised and impressed me on this recording—musicality. There are sections that are purely kosmische here, both in terms of atmosphere and emotion.
But before things get too comfortable or predictable, Zuydervelt is not shy to lean on elements of haze and feedback to challenge his audience into other sonic realms. He displays an innate sense of mindfulness in terms of the overall pacing of these elements, so that they never become overbearing or grating, yet they play an important part in the dramatic effect of this score.
Of course, questions come to mind regarding the effectiveness of a score to a dance production in terms of how it stands on its own. Without the benefit of seeing the performance itself, of witnessing the beams of laser lights or the choreography of the dancers, how does the recording fare on its own? The easy answer, in this particular case, is extremely well.
The forty-three-minute duration is just the perfect length for this piece, as it is structured with measured timing and sinuous, thematic movements. The thread that ties the beginning and end of the score is that single, solitary ticking—a reminder of the simplicity inherent in the piece, and that all sound generates from a specific yet unknown source. Zuydervelt has crafted a highly effective work of great capacity and composition.
02) Part I
03) Part II
04) Part III
05) Part IV