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STROOM

Ever the innovators, Stroom create a whole new space in the Piccadilly release schedule, with this 'back to school' banger from Patrick Selinger. A free spirit with a decidedly DIY attitude, Patrick released New Beat-Not New Beat (Matt's hastily knocking up a new Piccadilly genre heading as we speak) classic "Business Man" under the name Logo in 1988. Set to the metallic clang of some reverb soaked percussion, the track drifts through deserted city streets, capturing a rainsoaked mystery with mournful pads, detached vocals and delicate melodies. Evocative, understated and oddly danceable, this is a moody and medicated Eurocentric cousin of Flash and the Pan's perfectopop "Walking In The Rain". Soon after this release, Selinger left the music industry in search of the music, putting together a CD only release of piano compositions which we can sample on the B-side. 


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: How good is this? Belgium's finest mark the end of the summer with a retrospective EP of Patrick Selinger's unique music. On the A-side we have the definitive mixes of sadface newbeat groove "Businessmen", while the flipside showcases the Antwerp musician's later piano works. Ace!

"Spoki (Ghosts)" is the sound of an artist putting their private world to tape. Of exploring and pushing the limits of themselves and technology to realise the music in their head. Recorded in Riga between 1988-2011.
As Ingus Baušķenieks himself explains: “My own world differs a little from my friends' tastes. And - as my father said - the collective art is not art at all." 
The music of Ingus Baušķenieks is both deeply private and completely alien. Experimental yet happy to celebrate pop influences such as Engelbert Humperdinck, Simon & Garfunkel or Fleetwood Mac. It is shaped by the artist’s engagement with technology and his strive to put to record his ‘own world’.
As Ingus explains, it is the sound of him: “doing what I like to do.”

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: The Stroom hot streak continues this week with the strange and beautiful world of Riga musician Ingus Bauskenieks. The eleven tracks on offer cover 23 years of odd-pop experiments, bedroom sonnets and synthed up chuggers. In other words, this is power Balearic, Latvian style…

As Stroom continue to go from strength to strength with their flawless string of archival releases, they revist the unique audio world of Axel Liebeert for a maxi 12" of unreleased Pablo's Eye cuts. Where "Spring Break" introduced us to the calming coastal and cool ambient ends of Axel's audio spectrum, "Bardo For Pablo" puts the percussion up front, resulting in a rhythmic selection of otherworldly audio. Opener "Amb 8" serves up a solid machine rhythm, floating pads and a hypnotic keyboard sequence, while "Cypher NY Mix" is a tranquilised trip into dreamy downbeat territories - check out the panning! Grooving along, "Today" kills it with heavy tom abuse and a bottom end thrust along the lines of Massive Attacks "Safe From Harm". The percussive processing continues on the B-side via the techno tribal stomp of "My Only Guide Is", a hefty hit of machine voodoo essential for fans of Tolouse Low Trax. Bringing us to the finish line "Self Abandonment" and  "I Have No Other Compass" offer hazy percussion and optimistic ambience respectively. Live in limbo folks.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Stroom revisit Pablo's Eye for a 6 track selection of previously unreleased pearls. Pushing its way towards the dance floor (with predictable sophistication) this set slinks along with touches of trip hop, machine voodoo, valium downbeat and ace ambience.

After a string of stunning archival releases (Pablo's Eye anyone?) Belgium's tastemaking Stroom turn to the contemporary with their thirteenth release, inviting Jason Kolar to take us into his unique sonic world. Gently oscillating between the glassy synths of Satoshi & Makoto, the coastal cool of CFCF and the ephemeral ambient landscapes you get from Johnny Nash and Suzanne Kraft on Melody As Truth, Kolar creates an immersive ambient experience tinged with the emotional resonance of the New Age movement. Close your eyes and take off that tie, it's time to slip your mooring...

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Stroom step into the here and now with a killer set of contemporary ambient recordings from Jason Kolar. Optimism meets melancholy as we explore the spaces between Melody As Truth and the ambient arm of Growing Bin.

Theater De Kreet was a short lived theatre collective that existed between 1979 and 1981. In that period the troupe presented just one performance, a musical called 'Adeline' which had a run of six shows during 1981.

The members of Theater De Kreet were originally part of a bigger group called Grasgroen, which was founded by art history students from the Leuven University. The collective mainly focused on so called ‘animations’ in the public space. After a while, Grasgroen split into two different groups (theatre and performance), and Theater De Kreet came into existence. Its core members were Walter Verdin, Guy Dermul, Hilde Wils, Gaby Geysens and Nicole Boffin. Mainly using improvisatory methods, the collective started working on 'Adeline' in 1979. The premiere took place in October 1981 and was met with very mixed critical reviews. Walter Verdin was in charge of the music for 'Adeline'. Originally an art history and visual art student, Verdin was introduced to the Belgian music scene through his record sleeve and poster designs. Prior to the music for 'Adeline', he released a solo album and a 7” white man reggae project with Grasgroen ('Storingen' by Specimen & The Rizikoos). Later in his career, he had his biggest commercial success with Pas de deux, the band that represented Belgium at the Eurovision Song Contest in Munich (1983). After the Pas de deux adventure, Verdin gave up on popular music and had a blooming career in video art, working on video concerts and installations and later on with renowned theatre and dance companies from all over the world.

To write the soundtrack for 'Adeline', Verdin took to the studio of the Audiovisual Services of the KU Leuven, which was his audio and video laboratorium for around 20 years, and subsequently to the ICP Recording Studios in Brussels for post-production. Verdin & co. didn't compose behind a writing desk or a piano. Music for them meant playing - with an instrument, but also with non-traditional instruments. The spring of a desk lamp for instance, could be used to produce music too. 

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Stroom just don't slip up! The Belgian label keep us coming back with a wonderful collection of improvisational electronic grooves from Pas De Deux man Walter Verdin. Combining all your favourite bits of minimal wave, Balearic, synth funk and cosmic pop, the eight tracks on "Voor Adeline" are the kind of wonderful oddities that litter all the best mixtapes.

In the relatively short time since Stroom first appeared in the stores, the Belgian label has quickly blossomed into an essential imprint for any true heads out there. Drifting between esoteric ambience, bedroom tape manipulations, wavy torch songs and overlooked R&B, the Stroom catalogue explores the frayed edges of the musical map, always looking for something unheard and unmissable. Their latest release puts a spotlight on Pablo's Eye, a loose collective of musicians and performers centered around Brussels engineer Axel Libeert. From 1989 to 1999, the flexible ensemble created a septet of CD only releases, the highlights of which make it onto this perfectly sequenced collection.
Opener "Blind And Quiet" sets the scene with backmasked guitar, tremulous bass drones and animalistic breathing, gently pulling us into the deep dreamspace which Pablo's Eye call home. "Track 2" offers a further post modern twist, turning evocative piano, otherworldly zither and choral vox into a mournful mood piece via snippets of evangelical vocals. Soon we drift from that Lynchian contradiction to the remarkably Balearic "La Pedrera", a moody midnight stroll by beachside cafe's in an ocean breeze. At the close of the A-side, the somber strings and gentle guitar of "Track 4" hold us close in suspended animation, before the flip brings the propulsive beach resort funk of "Otis". With its atmospheric electronics, steady bass and chorus guitars "El Barrio Gotico" sounds like an ambient reprise of Texan classic "Broken Wings", while the tumbling percussion, snatches of vocal and electronic textures of "Amb 7" takes us dancing into the centre of the self. Finally, the one chord suspense and delicate jangle of "A Long Standing Dream" carries us off into the warming soup of the collective consciousness. By means of depth placement, psychoacoustics and spatial fug, Pablo’s Eye is experienced in the deeper reaches of the body, bypassing the conscious part of the mind entirely. More than anything, Pablo’s Eye is a temporary atmosphere, like a taste or a dream..." 


So far so far out for Stroom, who continue their journey through the lesser thumbed pages of the Belgian underground with this sublime retrospective of art-house hero and ambient music weirdo Jan Van Den Broeke. Famed for his wavy, sample heavy synth compositions as Absent Music, The Misz and June 11, Van Den Broeke made an appearance on Alain Neffe's Insane Music imprint, with the lo-fi tropicalia of "The Desert" (included here folks). Falling somewhere between Spike, Marc Barreca, Eno's poppier moments and the bedsit anxiety of a Flying Nun band, the music collected on "11000 Dreams" beguiles, intrigues and transfixes us with its introverted magic. Working with a minimalist set up of drum machines, guitar, synth and spoken vocal, Van Den Broeke pursues his own unique musical path to create a sound which falls into a flawless musical no man's land - Absent Music indeed! So, if you dig on Balearic, minimal wave or ambient sounds, you NEED this in your life.

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP Info: LP + DL (inc digital bonus tracks) + "CHEZ RENEE" booklet

Hot on the heels of Stroom's NSRD retrospective LP comes the perfect companion piece, a quartet of the group's most danceable tracks combined onto one maxi 12". If, like me, you're obsessed with minimal wave, mutant disco, NDW, grooving post punk and bedroom funk, you're gonna lose your shit for this one. Opener "Neskaties" hits us with clanging, clattering tin pan percussion, dubbed up drum machines, shoulder rolling synth bass, trumpet, and a floppy disc full of cut and paste samples. I'd have bought a copy on the strength of that alone, but when the pastoral electronics, circular melodies and solid 4/4 of "Ziemelbriezu Pajuga Pa Rigas Juras Lici" I feel like I've borrowed Mario's flying hat and shot way beyond the clouds - lush, lovely, lo-fi euphoria! #e-tune. Seguing seamlessly into darker, dubbier territories via "Nujorkas Taksometra Pa Manhetenu", this A2 animal allows you to mix out at a sunny 120ish or take things into the murk at 80bpm - Mega! Keeping the quality high on the B-side, "Augu Nakti. Kada Rita. Sovakar " locks us into a slow and steady trance dance, gothing away with a moonlit fusion of gloomy electronics and Gregorian chant. "Splivens" signs off in emotive fashion, approximating the end-of-season melancholy of a Depeche Mode classic as a proto Italo-house/NDW fusion - sounds mental, is mental....aaaand totally unmissable.


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Stroom follow their NSRD LP with a killer maxi dance 12" for the adventurous DJs out there. Lo-fi electronics abound on this ace slice of underground Latvian oddness - Dejot!

So, four releases in (ignore the cat numbers if you will) and Stroom have established themselves as an essential imprint for fans of minimal wave, ambient and weirdshit. Now the label take aim at the fourth world loving Balearic crowd with Cybe's 'Tropisch Verlangen'. After travelling to India, Indonesia, Thailand, Bali and Java in his younger days, Cybe self-released three cassette tapes between 1981 and 1985. "Tropisch Verlangen” now compiles a series of ten analogue vignettes from those tapes, sounding like lush fields of electronic wheat swaying in voltage controlled wind. It reads as a musical travelogue from a Dutch musician from Haarlem, who listened to way too much Gong and went searching for inspiration, sound recordings and instruments in the East in the early eighties.

STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Well, that's my alarm clock sorted for the summer. Stroom follow their beautifully introverted retrospective of Jan Van Den Broeke with this wonderfully evocative LP from Cybe. 'Tropisch Verlangen' sees the Dutch musician send a postcard home from South East Asia scoring a must have for Balearic / Ambient / New Age fans in the process.


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