Piiptsjilling: Wurdskrieme

Piiptsjilling's Wurdskrieme (‘cry of words') is quite unlike anything I've heard before. Or maybe I should state more accurately that it takes elements heard before but combines them in an arrestingly novel manner. At its simplest, Piiptsjilling (pronounced ‘peep-chilling')—a quartet consisting of siblings Jan and Romke Kleefstra, Mariska Baars, and Rutger Zuydervelt—creates electroacoustic dronescapes that receive their distinguishing marks from two things in particular: the brooding speaking voice of Jan Kleefstra as he recites poetry (like the band name, in Frisian) over the group's improvised accompaniment, and the tremolo guitars that shudder in counterpoint just as often; that there is such a strong six-string dimension is borne out by the fact that Baars, Zuydervelt, and Romke Kleefstra all play guitar on the album's six tracks. Wurdskrieme, however, is no axe-dueling session; guitars are used to build texture, typically slowly and with great deliberation. Zuydervelt is, of course, a well-known quantity who has established himself solidly with a vast number of Machinefabriek releases, and he contributes not only instrumentally to the album—the sound of his guitar expanded upon using effects and loopers—but mixed and edited it too.

Working painstakingly yet intuitively, the four spent two days recording the material in March 2010, and two albums resulted from the sessions (Molkedrippen the other). Wurdskrieme's pieces unfold unhurriedly, meditatively even, with the players creating sparse dronescapes of guitars, field recordings, and ambient noises that the voice eventually joins. If one occasionally wonders how exactly the lyrics translate into one's native tongue, the question ultimately seems moot: the cryptic drawl of Jan's voice is a compelling enough sound all by its lonesome, especially when it's shadowed by the wordless presence of Baars' voice. The shadings that accumulate so naturally as “Ferware” develops attests to the simpatico listening that occurred during the recording session, and the transition from quiet to loud and back again is effected so organically it's hard to imagine it happened without pre-planning (one shouldn't forget that Zuydervelt did edit the material so perhaps some of the music's organization can be attributed to post-production). Wurdskrieme might best be thought of as late-night mood music of a rarified kind.

November 2010