L/M/R/W: Drifts
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Drifts by L/M/R/W—an acronym derived from the first letter of the given names of Leo Fabriek, Mariska Baars, Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek), and Wouter van Weldhoven—is a more-than-perfect title for this three-track recording (all of the material was issued previously, tracks one and three on cassette by Digitalis and track two Track on three-inch CD-R). Each of the collaborations—label them soundscapes, meditations, audio landscapes, or drones according to your preference—drifts according to its own shape-shifting and internal logic. The group name is a tad misleading in suggesting that all four members appear on all three pieces when Zuydervelt is the only one present on all of them, but that's hardly a crippling detail.

Edited from a live March 2008 performance, “Birthday” builds a crackling, hot-wired drone from Fabriek's harmonium, van Weldhoven's tape recorders and melodica, and the bleed of Baars' and Zuydervelt's electric guitars as source materials. Though its drone nucleus persists from start to finish, the piece maintains interest through the ongoing shifts in dynamics and the mutating warble of multi-layered sounds. The middle piece, “Clay,” is dramatically different than the opener in that it restricts the sound sources to Baars' voice and Zuydervelt's processiong and editing. As a result, there's ample room for the voice to maneuver, plus the minimal sound field allows the gradual swell of the vocal and its escalations in pitch to become especially noticeable. Vaporous textures ripple alongside the voice layers making “Clay” sound like a decades-old choral recording re-appearing through heavy mist. In keeping with the character of its title, the piece gets radically re-shaped when it expands half-way through into a blistering, ever-intensifying noise mass that Baars and Zuydervelt pull back from the brink before an explosion occurs to ease the material to a peaceful end. “Tegendraads” distinguishes itself from the others in the prominent role given to Fabriek's acoustic piano playing. Of course, it's merely one element amongst many, with a speaking voice surfacing unexpectedly alongside the speckled textures and scabrous guitar ripples that seem to hover suspendedly in place. Drifts is the kind of recording that becomes all the more satisfying the more one gives one's attention to it, and leaves an even stronger impression when listened to through headphones.

April 2010