De Verdieping starts 2010 with Machinefabriek

Machinefabriek live at Aura in Castrum Peregrini (photo: Jelle Spanjaard)

On a Thursday night in September in 2006, multi-instrumentalist Rutger Zuydervelt performed under his moniker Machinefabriek on the 700th birthday at the Oude Kerk, the oldest building of Amsterdam that is located in the heart of the Red Light District. It was a night I organised when I was still working at the n8 foundation, the collaborative museum platform that works for the Amsterdam museums. This was the beginning of an ongoing love affair with one of the Netherlands’ most productive and imaginative young composers and musicians. Since this concert we have worked together numerous times at the Bimhuis, Lantaren/Venster, Castrum Peregrini, and once even in my appartment in Amsterdam, together with Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard. Machinefabriek, a natural improviser who never performs the same work twice, and has an Olympic amount of releases and bootlegs swerving around. Even when I write, Michiel is listening to his music (and while you are peeking at his account, have a look where Machinefabriek stands in my top artists list).

So it should not come as a surprise when we announce that the first artist we have asked to perform in 2010 is our dear friend Machinefabriek. We will celebrate the opening of the new year in De Verdieping with a special performance on Wednesday 6 January at 8 pm. We will also celebrate the proud fact that we have been granted a generous 2-year financial support from the Amsterdam Art Fund to upgrade the organisation and become a more professional cultural institution. The support enables us to notch up our activities and broaden our reach. We are delighted about this and look forward to inviting you to more adventurous programmes on the Wibautstraat in 2010.

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday and toasting on the new decade. In the mean time, follow De Verdieping on Facebook and Twitter. Drive and shoot straight on New Year’s Eve.

By Juha — Posted December 30, 2009 — 2,923 Comments

May 6 at De Verdieping: Pierre Bastien and Daedelus

Pierre Bastien, Somewhere in the Dark (photo courtesy of the artist)

Pierre Bastien, Somewhere in the Dark (photo courtesy of the artist)

After the success of Viral Radio and the Brainfeeder attack last Friday, there are two other musicians we would like to present to you tonight at De Verdieping, two of the kindest people of electronic music: Daedelus and Pierre Bastien. The former hails from Santa Monica, played bassoon and clarinet before solitarily enjoying rave music at a young age, and participating in the development of a remarkable music device, the Monome. The latter is a French composer, multi-instrumentalist and literature Phd from Rotterdam, idolised by Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Icarus, who constructs his own landscapes of automated music machines, forming an orchestra of kinetic instruments.

Bastien will premier new work, while Daedelus will perform with, and talk about the Monome in a sitdown with Juha. This event takes place in De Verdieping, the underground basement of Trouw Amsterdam. Doors open at 8.30 PM, and admission is a mere 8 euros. Cinnaman and Juha will play surrounding music. Here are the links for Last FM and Facebook.

We hope to see you there.

By Juha — Posted May 6, 2009 — 4,220 Comments

If not STRP, then TRW and BMHS

Strijps-S in 1961 (photo courtesy of Jan Weijers)

This weekend, the city of Eindhoven is host of STRP, one of the Netherlands’ most innovative art and technology festivals. The festival takes place at Philips former industrial Strijp-S area. With artists as Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Rustie and Hudson Mohawke, STRP has a line up that connects two generations of brain-tingling electronic musicians.

If you have not been able to obtain a ticket for this festival, or will not travel to the South, we present an alternative in Amsterdam this weekend. On Friday 3 April Clark will play at Viral Radio at Trouw, and on Saturday 4 April Non-fiction has invited Pan Sonic and Oval at the Bimhuis.

We hope these two nights form a soothing alternative for missing the impressive STRP festival. See you there?

By Juha — Posted March 30, 2009 — 4,384 Comments

A loud no and an even louder yes

Marcel Duchamp and John Cage playing chess (photo: Shigeko Kubota)

Marcel Duchamp and John Cage playing chess (photo: Shigeko Kubota)

In an e-mail exchange with the English bassist Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) about a concert in Amsterdam, he confused me by writing that he did not consider himself a musician, and he was not even sure if he really liked music. Jenkinson is a drummer as well as a bass player, and ever since his first album, Feed Me Weird Things, released in 1996, he has been more or less idolized as an innovator of electronic music.

His music was used by filmmaker Sofia Coppola as the sonic translation of Tokyo’s lightscape in Lost in Translation. It has been presented in manic and sterile fashion by video-maker Chris Cunningham and recorded as a contemporary pendant of 20th-century experimental music by the London Sinfonietta, in a programme of such great composers as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Why would anyone of such stature not want to call himself a musician?

In search of an explanation, I called on a number of friends in the music scene and asked what their definition of music was, and whether you could make music without being a musician.

Nearly a century ago, the French composer Edgard Varèse referred to music as ‘organized sound’, a term that was reinforced in 1937 by John Cage in his famous lecture, The Future of Music: Credo. Some theorists see music as a language that enables interaction between people. Others see it as organized movement of air. Philosophers sometimes speak of a ‘practical form of philosophy in time and space’ (I kid you not). The Scottish sound theorist, Steve Goodman, speaks of music as a form of architecture that makes it possible for people to acoustically take control of their environment. As an example, he refers to South London’s dubstep producers, who want to cut off the intrusive noise of their immediate environment and the outside world and by using music equipment to carve out a space in sound.

With any of these descriptions, the question remains whether you can make music and not be a musician, as Jenkinson implies. Most people reply that, yes, you can. You can be ‘tone deaf, not master any instrument or forget to pay your membership to the Musicians Union’, as Ollie Bown of the Icarus electronic ensemble jokes. You might only call yourself a musician ‘if the context requires it and if it is less confusing to call yourself a musician, instead of an artist or theoretician’, as Bown’s cousin and composer Sam Britton pragmatically replies. You can make music and not be a musician ‘by working as an artist in the auditive domain’, adds Lucas van der Velden of the artists collective Telco Systems, or indeed, according to producers Kode9 and Cinnaman ‘by simply not caring what you call it’.

The answers vary from self-effacing to convincing and from indecisive to indifferent. If a distinction can be made between capable musicians who refine and develop their art according to a tradition, and ‘musicians’ who experiment with apparatus and instruments with no notion or interest in history, then perhaps Jenkinson is right. But can such a distinction be made?

Jenkinson also wrote, ‘I see myself as someone who clears the way for musicians and composers, brushing away preconceptions about what is permissible.’ Perhaps Jenkinson’s words indicate that it is ultimately about the experience of music, not about qualifying or analyzing it.

A final word goes to the buoyant Swiss artist Dimitri Grimm (Dimlite), whose e-mail response to my question of whether or not he is a musician was, ‘A loud no and an even louder yes. It depends on who is asking. That question almost never needs a reply (maybe for the phone book entry). The title “musician” is not really laden with a concrete association in my world. I have never learned the definition of a musician, so: I don’t know. There was a time when I used to say, “well, call me a music-maker”, out of respect, because I am not that guy who is reading or writing notes and mastering the craft of, let’s say, guitar playing. That is a musician, right? I grew up in a time when people scratching with turntables had already started calling themselves musicians. These days, we juggle zeros and ones by ear and eye, create sounds, rhythms, harmonies, melodies and good and bad ghosts of all sorts, by any means, for ears and souls, and it takes a lot of mastery. It is nobody’s right to decide who is a musician and who is not, and if they do, who cares?’

This article was published in Metropolis M of February/March 2009.

By Juha — Posted February 14, 2009 — 195 Comments

In Search of the Unknown

Manifest Destiny, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács (2008)

Manifest Destiny, Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács (2008)

Not that we would like to compete with Time Out Amsterdam, but sometimes we like to sum up a few events that coincide. Today is one of those times.

At 5 PM NIMk opens with In Search of the Unknown, an exhibition on past and future tense in art. The opening performance is by Johannes Sterk and Elias Tieleman, and the wonderful installation Time Slip by Antoine Schmitt. After this, time for Spinoza Redux at Castrum Peregrini, the first in a series of three nights on Freedom in the work of the 17th Century philosopher Spinoza. Then a quick drive-by The New Beat Generation somewhere in the Jordaan (ask Nalden), followed by the opening of Contemporary Semantics at Arti, an exhibition on Web art by Constant Dullaart with our friend Jan Robert Leegte (who participates in Aura).

At 8.30 PM Peter Brötzmann and his Chicago Tentet will play at the Bimhuis, but I am afraid I won’t make that one this time – nor the Muziekgebouw for that matter.

We’ll probably finish (or at least I will) the night at The Best of Habbekrats at Bitterzoet. Not so strange music with slightly strange people (and vice versa).

Perhaps we see each other somewhere tonight.

By Juha — Posted February 13, 2009 — 5,057 Comments

Oren Ambarchi and Keith Rowe at the Bimhuis

Steven O'Malley and Oren Ambarchi at the Bimhuis
Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi (photo: Hans de Bruijn)

‘Rowe is incapable of making an uninteresting sound’ (Penguin Guide to Jazz).

Juha has invited Keith Rowe and Oren Ambarchi to play at the Bimhuis this Sunday. Rowe and Ambarchi use the guitar as a point of departure for completely new techniques and sound environments. Before Ambarchi was even born Rowe made a radical departure from traditional jazz playing. He redefined the guitar in the British collective AMM. He prefers to lay the instrument on the table to manipulate its sound with springs, fans, office appliances and electronics. Ambarchi predominantly uses laptop to mould guitar sounds into dark sonic patterns. The duo have made two CDs, Flypaper and Squire.

Join this concert at Last FM, and read this Cut-up review from the first Bimhuis performance by Ambarchi. Our next even at the Bimhuis will be on 27 February, Rednose Distrikt with Knalpot, Dorian Concept, Aardvarck and Steven de Peven.

By Juha — Posted February 6, 2009 — 4,496 Comments

Non-fiction starts working for Muziekgebouw aan´t IJ

Muziekgebouw aan ´t IJ

Starting on Monday 12 January, Non-fiction will begin working for the renowned Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ. This Concerthall of the 21st Century is located in the redeveloped eastern docklands of Amsterdam. It was opened by the Dutch Queen Beatrix in the summer of 2005, guided by the Arditti Quartet, Asko Ensemble, Schönberg Ensemble and others from the realm of contemporary music. Jan Wolff was the founder and director, until Tino Haenen took over in June 2008.

Our objective is to help the organisation with their public strategy, new media development and visual identity. We are honored to be working with such an incredible music institute and look forward to the assignment.

By Juha — Posted January 11, 2009 — 62 Comments