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Machinefabriek - Colour Tones

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Artist: Machinefabriek

Album: Colour Tones

Label: Fang Bomb

Review date: Jul. 12, 2012

Rutger Zuydervelt has pumped out a release per month since his Machinefabriek project got going in early 2007. It was around that time that he put the near-perfect Marijn LP out into the world, kick-starting a prolific musical path containing both peaks and valleys. Fast-forward a few years, and Glisten, and Patina — Zuydervelt’s two collaborative efforts with experimental guitarist Tim Catlin — showcased some of the best music that’s come from Gareth Hardwick’s Low Point record label. This is a mere glimpse into Zuydervelt’s canon, neglecting to delve into the countless EPs, digital downloads, DJ mixes, videos, and half-dozen or so retrospective compilations that he’s released. It’s said tongue-in-cheekily about prolific artists, but seriously, does this guy not sleep?

This year, however, has been a relatively slow one for Machinefabriek, with only a couple short-form vinyl releases and the full-length Colour Tones. In the latter’s case, Zuydervelt’s tones were inspired by an exhibition by graphic designer Lesley Moore, who, in one medium or another, created abstracted interpretations of The Colour Tales, a book by Latvian writer Imants Ziedonis. Appropriately, Zuydervelt titled each of his own pieces with a different color, with the exception of the closer “Mosaic,” that exists as a kind of completed picture to the synesthetic jigsaw puzzle that is everything prior.

It’s more than tempting to try to hear (see?) the particular color associated with each piece, and the lushness of the track “Green” and the more free-floating textures that make up “Grey” almost make it easy. Take out these more obvious signifiers, however, and the subjectivity of the connection between sound and color shines through. The tracks “Red,” “Brown” and “Blue” for example, leave all association between sound and color strictly to the listener’s imagination.

While Colour Tones lacks the poignancy of Marijn or Patina, the album does have its fair share of nifty tricks and satisfying sound arrangements. “Grey,” with its slow drift of atrophied ambience, brings a much welcomed tape loop to the fore, a ploy Zuydervelt uses again on “Mosaic” that starts with quickly decaying pings and soon finds itself in the midst of gritty tones and an unobtrusive acoustic guitar.

Aside from maybe “Green” and “Grey,” the pieces never scream of their colors, but no one is to say that Zuydervelt doesn’t know his brown sound from his green, as it’s that subjectivity coupled with a passion for sound and an unhesitant wielding of free interpretation that lends Colour Tones its lasting value.

By Adrian Dziewanski

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