The doors are closing!

Within Rutger Zuydervelt’s voluminous discography sit several albums of music for film that rank among his strongest and best-known work (“Sol Sketches”, “Secret Photographs”, “Apollo”). His dance scores are less numerous, but that number is growing, with a new commission from choreographer Iván Pérez being the latest dance collaboration to produce an audio release. The specific requirements and expectations of a score commission inevitably close some doors and open others, and yet can lead to some imaginative and innovative music, as the film scores prove. What new ingredients might a dance situation throw into the mix?

Zuydervelt worked closely with Pérez and dancers from the companies Ballet Moscow and Korzo to create this new score, resulting in an album that closely follows the dramaturgy of the dance performance. It is immediately apparent from listening that the constraints imposed by the nature of the collaboration pushed the music in a different direction from that taken by Zuydervelt’s film scores. The ambling, patient drones give way to a much more dynamic approach, with stronger contrasts of rhythm and texture — I can’t think of another Machinefabriek album where one could speak so easily of a kind of topography of ‘loud pieces’ and ‘quiet pieces’, of peaks and troughs. While there are no ‘beats’ present, in the dance music sense of the term, a much more conscious and deliberate approach to rhythm has been integrated right across the album, from the frenetic ringing of “Slapping Dance”, through the languidness of “Kostya’s Solo”, to the lurching, teetering saws that bring things to a close.

To what extent this emphasis on dynamism reflects either the nature of the particular choreography it scores, or the more general modernist cliché that posits dance as an inherently and necessarily dynamic and energetic artform, is perhaps beside the point for those of us sat listening at home. More relevant is the invigorating, animating effect this more tensile structure has on Zuydervelt’s tonal innovations. The details of individual sounds, the ways they are developed and played off against one another, are in no way lacking or diminished here, with the restriction to a smaller range of more flexible chiming, buzzing, and ringing timbres reflecting the sharper focus of Zuydervelt’s recent output. This trademark respect for individual sounds coupled with a more dynamic, narrative-like structure make for a slightly different Machinefabriek release, but perhaps one of his most accessible and immediately engaging thus far — well worth seeking out.

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