One Two Three Four Five by Bart van Dongen x Richard van Kruysdijk

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Bart van Dongen & Richard van Kruysdijk
One Two Three Four Five (Opa Loka Records; CD/DL)

KEEPING COUNT: The Dutch duo of pianist Bart van Dongen and sound artist Richard van Kruysdijk (Omnichord, Kaoss Pad, live sampling, effects) bring you a new album broken into five numbered tracks. The fusion is pretty special and in no way compromises the other’s contribution by style or substance. van Dongen’s keys are from classical roots (sweet to brash drama), woven here with van Kruysdijk’s delightfully minimal crackling and wobbly electronics. A hybrid emerges, one peppered with erudite tones, in all seriousness. With snaps, loose harmonic inflections and amplified keystrokes the two offer something of a plein air spirit.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 10.28.49 AMBart van Dongen & Richard van Kruysdijk by Marc Alberto

The crackling and hum bode well for a composition that would be likely best experienced live in concert, unless you have a quadraphonic sound system. In other words, there’s a lot of intimacy here, so play this with a bit of volume rather than headphones. Every echo and tiny percussive movement counts. And when they build their collective bits in unison there’s a booming, judicious energy that’s palpable, and systematically one that calls for caution. They conjure a keen sense of darkness. As Three begins with a sonic crash which fades into sultry piano, a hive emerges, an uncertain shift in the continuum that speaks on different stages, like a calculated argument, yet still in conversation. Fiery sound effects face-off with prepared piano in the next vignette.

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JULY 13 RELEASE: A symbiotic transformation manifests once Four is midway, the rounded electronic pops and visceral piano becomes manipulated through layers of abstract harmony. This leads into a twisted drone mash-up fueled by angry strings, yet it all ends up composing itself in the end. Speaking of which, the final track opens with a drifting, flared ambient sensibility. The colors are somewhat faded in this last lap, though its far from barren. As the track continues it widens in scope, the tonal structure balances the thin line between serene and atonal. It’s a bit intoxicating. The heavy handed piano which is full of plunk trills and circumstance is mirrored in the wavering drone and slow searing electronics woven around the sound center. It becomes playful and melodic, finding a watery mid-point that trickles into a lengthy keyboard run and out of sight.

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