Offen by Modelbau

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Modelbau | Offen
Barreuh Records (CS/DL)

Frans de Waard is a tireless creative, having produced countless recordings under a dozen or so monikers, solo and collaborative, and this past season alone, as Modelbau, four recordings have emerged on various imprints. Offen (in an edition of only 27 tapes) stood out to me for its tight programming and subtleties. Here are four pieces starting with Open Out, which is luxe ambient with strokes of Asian gongs, a melancholic melody and crickets. My only criticism is its over just as I am losing myself within it, though there is barely a second lost as we enter Open Up. An enchanting soft and distant drone slowly percolates below the surface. Minimal, almost elemental in its delivery.

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This may be appreciated most via headphones, however I played it very early in the morning when nothing was stirring nearby and I was alone in the house. The static and open mic/amp sounds mesh well and manage to keep a wrapt sense of tension. The wave increases/decreases in faint and unstructured ways, with crusty twists and a sense of inflation. A feeling of equilibrium is tangible, as it is moving closer, but in its own organic way, to the listener. Such a true ambiguity here. Is it only the wind?

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Then on to Open Door, and now a theme of moving through passageways to an undisclosed location becomes mildly apparent. Here de Waard brings a cyclical rhythm that acts as an almost other worldly pulsation, interrupted what sound like squawking birds, yet its hard to tell, but there is something wild ingrained here. Something seems off, uncomfortable. And continuing the cycle, for the final of four, is Open Air.

By far the most minimal from the top, what you encounter is a bare beat and some distant squeakiness until a thin layer of running static is lain atop the mix. The listener will experience a bit of an eclipse here, a redaction of most, like playing back an erased tape that still has residual dust and faint semblances of what previously was there on the surface. The volume increases, perhaps the speed of the spindle, but the many mysteries of its former self remain intact.

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