Tapage: Seven
Raumklang Music

Why Seven? Quite simply because Seven features seven tracks, with each one exactly seven minutes in length. Ostensibly a meditation on the concept of time, Tijs Ham's latest Tapage opus continues his exploration into ambient-industrial music-making, with, in this case, a pronounced emphasis on downtempo beatsmithing to go along with it (the album follows his solo outings, 2008's The Institute Of Random Events and 2009's Fallen Clouds, and the recent collaboration with Meander, Etched In Salt). While Tympanik Audio has operated as a recent Tapage home base, Seven finds Ham appearing on Raumklang for an atmospheric set that brings into sharp relief some of his avowed influences, including Hecq and Boards of Canada.

The approach is predominantly understated and the mood melancholy, and there's a refinement and sophistication about the material that speaks highly of Ham's production skills. The ambient aspects of the material endow the material with a serenading quality, while its rhythm dimension gives it a physical drive and propulsion. Pretty melodic treatments imbue “Five of Seven,” for instance, with as much sparkle as a prototypical Boards of Canada track, while the beats give it an earthy kick that can't help but induce a bodily response. “Three of Seven” likewise offsets the radiant tinkle of music box patterns with a heavy and subtly funky bottom end. The closing track flirts with orchestral ambiance during its first three minutes but then abruptly shifts gears when a hyperactive beat pulse skips into position, and crisp beats with a hip-hop edge lend oomph to certain tracks (“Two of Seven,” “Four of Seven”) as well.

Ham started out as a guitarist for a Netherlands-based metal/hip-hop band, but gradually moved away from the style as he became more immersed in and developed more expertise in electronic sound manipulation. A classy collection like Seven suggests that he's come a long way since those early days, as the album finds Ham bringing the Tapage sound to an impressively high level of maturity and finesse.

March 2011