Mariska Baars & Rutger Zuydervelt – Eau

Mariska Baars and Rutger Zuydervelt go way back. Although they regularly work together in the quartet Piiptsjilling, their last collaboration was 2008’s Drawn, an incredible eleven years ago. ‘Eau’ means ‘water’ in French, so the theme of the record quickly reveals itself, turning into a natural liquid thanks to its stream of watery song and its currents of light, looping texture, choosing to go downriver and advancing in a single direction. A feminine voice spools outwards, occupying every inch of the record but never feeling like a drag.

Like ripples on a lucid cyan pool, solar flares mirroring light, eau reflects the lag of an afternoon sun on a summer vacation, forever young, unchanging. The glinting voice is susceptible to a few glitches and stutters along the way, as if it were being grazed by the sandpaper of sediment along the way, but it’s imbued with a fascinating flexibility, the voice building transparent arenas for aural gymnasts.

It escapes out of the palm – like water – and it easily slips out of its hiding place – like water. The electric guitar melody evokes a past era,ala Velvet Underground, with its crisp and clean melodic lines returning to the psychedelic era. The neon melody is a sun-burnt mirage, awash in psychedelia, glimpsing a taste of Miami or California while drenched in the stifling heat of August. The voice continues to swirl – it can and wants to sing in a brighter, alternative timeline, where her voice is gently bent and left to echo in the background. Other sounds flit and scrunch against the speakers, making for perfect background music and music for your immediate attention. It can switch between the two.

A deeper bass enters through a window left open for a spring breeze, and the sound rumbles against higher trinkets and clanging instrumentation. That bass never threatens the piercing light of the album, because a bright, exotic guitar returns again and again, reminiscing over paradise and reincarnating its palm trees from time to time, as a photograph will bring it all back in a flood of remembrance, acting as carer and babysitter, keeping watch and ensuring that the sun still gets through.

There’s no hurrying or any pressure to get to the finish line, despite its condensed running time of half an hour. Because of that, eau floats, untethered of any rigid expectation and choosing to part with the dangers of musical autopilot. It’s as fresh as a mountain stream. Like young hearts, its water runs free.

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