2 by Matthijs Kouw & Radboud Mens


Matthijs Kouw & Radboud Mens | 2
Moving Furniture Records (LP/DL)

In follow-up to 2017’s 1 here are composers Matthijs Kouw & Radboud Mens continuing their journey as a duo with 2 which includes two alphabetic twenty minute long tracks. The tones are low and minimal on C, the first half opener. Well it’s actually a singular tone and shadowed drone. The deadpan drone builds and the tone drops, becoming embedded over time in this still setting. Recorded live in 2014, due to the neural intricacies, this would likely be best served through headphones or with ample volume. About six and a half minutes in the vibration widens, and a very finite melody of impulses is teased. It is one of those metered ways of developing an anticipatory atmosphere as if something or someone is lurking just around the bend.


Coming into this work not having heard the first in the series, the listener, like I, may be fumbling mentally at first, but somehow, with the way in which these two sensitively manipulate their electronics after a short time you’ll be embraced by a tingling sensation. This is created by a repeating harp-like chord overlaid by a buzzing, winding reverb that runs right through it. These drawn cadences have a duality, that are both abstract ambient (emotional) and body music (tangible).

Built on frequencies that travel like transcendental chalk to a board, as E begins to emerge with its blunt single tone, it sort of clears the slate. This is a pure poker-faced stare into the void at first. This is black, a certain slightly varying shade thereof that harkens back to the work of Ad Reinhardt or Kazimir Malevich. Bold and blunt and to the point, with a phasing verve if you pay close attention. I’d imagine this piece, different from the other side, may be much more intensified in a live situation. The only thing in recent memory that comes close to the imagined experience of being there was being in the round and in the dark with an intimate audience with Francisco López – but that was way back in ’03. Kouw & Mens‘ work somehow feels as minimal and jam-packed with more shades of gray than most anything of late. When a simple string strum looms the intensity of its deep-seated drone-infused backdrop fluoresces. It’s a haunting quiet.


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