Machinefabriek - Slaapzucht (Root Strata CD)
RS-21 already came and went from the label so you're going to have to start making the rounds of the shops if you want to procure this. But then again it's not like there's any shortage of Machinefabriek product out there to peruse. Aside from the self-released 3" CD-Rs he puts out about once a month on his own Machinefabriek label, the Man from the Netherlands also known as Rutger Zuydervelt has releases to be found on Cut Hands, Lampse, Type, Anima Mal Nata, and probably many others. "Slaapzucht" compiles two previously-released 3" CD-Rs ("Slaap" and "Zucht", both self-released) as well as adding the brand new 20-minute track "Still", all adding up to over one hour of Machinefabriek drone gloss goodness. This one comes all wrapped up in those spiffy cardboard fold-in cases RS seem to favor, with silk-screened art.
The story behind this reads that these recordings made between April and August 2006 feature "electric guitar, e-bow, tuning fork, file, an electric tooth brush, a minidisc recorder, a little iron rod, loads of effectpedals, a melodica, a loop pedal, a cheap mixing deck and a laptop". Truth be told it's pretty hard to distinguish those esoteric items from what sticks out the most (guitar, laptop, effex) but whatever methods used to acheive the final result are cool with me. I guess if you wanted to you could divvy this disc up into three movements: the first three tracks are "Slaap", the next two are "Zucht", and the last is "Still". It's a pretty good way to think of things because, whether it was intentional or not, the three makeshift movements get increasingly melodic, increasingly loud, increasingly symphonic, and increasingly kajunga. Take the first few tracks. "Slaapdronken" darts around in the shadows like a warmer Wolf Eyes jam, with grainy electronic sounds filtering through softly before they're swallowed back up into the silence. Seems to be indicative of more epic things to come, but not just - "Slaapwandelen" is practically completely submerged in silence for all 8 minutes, slowly building up a swell church organ/hollow cave/Charlemagne Palestine type drone that lasts for too short a time. Only on "Slaapmiddel" does the garbled electro/drone melody hang around for a bit and it's quite rewarding when it does. Think a post-rock influenced Tim Hecker DAT tape left out in the summer sun and you've got two tickets to paradise. The two tracks from "Zucht" are far more linear and both total dream/bliss pageantry. "Zucht 1" spends a long while building a glacial, shimmering guitar drone into a mini explosion of electronic crinkle, fuzz, and gleam. Doesn't sound at all removed from Palestine or La Monte Young either, perhaps reinterpreted by Fennesz or like-minded Swede Jasper TX. "Zucht 2" is even more remarkable for how much it sounds like bigband post-rock ala Godspeed You! Black Emperor (indeed one of Zuydervelt's influences, apparently), particularly circa "Skinny Fists". The whole track is like a restrained, even muted symphony, to which Zuydervelt adds multiple layers of star-flecked guitar and other such dazzle (maybe this is where the electric toothbrush comes into play?!). It never erupts like "Storm" did for Godspeed but it's enjoyable all the same. But the real money is to be found on the bonus track "Still" which I don't think has ever been available up until now, though I'm not sure if it was created specifically for the release. Whatever the case, it's a real barn burner. It starts off in familiar, low-slinking guitar/electronics drone turf Growing style, grows somewhat ominous with this heavy radiator hum introduced at the midway point, and threatens to kill your children in the final 5-7 minutes. I'm no Machinefabriek pro but it's as aggressive as I've ever heard him before and it's an absolutely perfect way to conclude based on the way each preceding track smokestacks itself into something bigger and more grandiose. Well it doesn't get much more grandiose than "Still", at least not for one guy standing at a workbench. Even if the other tracks were snoozers I would say that the slow-burning, sky-tearing finale is worth it alone but the fact that both "Slaap" and "Zucht" are great in their own right makes "Still" all the more special. Like I said, I don't know the Machinefabriek discography inside out, but I have to think that this would be one of the more valuable documents in the whole equation and a must in no uncertain terms if you're a fan. I'd also recommend it especially to those with an interest in more ambient/drone-oriented post-rock type groups like Godspeed, Mono, Stars of the Lid, Efterklang, Labradford, and so on. It slaaps my zucht, no two ways about it.
Zucht 2 (excerpt)
Courtesy Root Strata