Rutger Zuydervelt

Stay Tuned
Baskaru karu 31

By Ken Waxman

One well-honed cliché of music anecdotes is when a talented performer walks into a room, asks another player to “give me an A” and once satisfied with the sound rhapsodically displays the breath of his mammoth talents. Rutger Zuydervelt, a conceptual artist and electronics manipulator from the Netherlands, subverts that bromide in a unique fashion on this fascinating CD. Contacting a cross section of international experimental musicians, he asked for an A alright and got 152 of them transmitted to him. Zuydervelt then processed the sound snatches into a 50-minute loop that approximates both the fantasy of a gigantic ensemble tuning up as well as a mesmerizing stand-alone electro-acoustic creation.

With the participants including guitarist Oren Ambarchi, trumpeter Nate Wooley, singer Eric Chenaux, tubaist Hild Sofie Tafjord and accordionist Andrea Parkins, the resulting textures take on many sonic hues. Blending, stretching and reassembling diminutive timbres into an oscillating drone no instrumental intonation is easily identifiable However there are times that string buzzes, percussion clashes and guitar and piano tremolo resonations can be sensed. With the performance undulating in moderato yet disciplined waves, sibilate vocal exhortations are additionally prominent. Establishing that this is music, not a technical exercise, Stay Tuned torques to a climax in a final sequence as not quite inaudible phrases meld to create a drone that’s part blues melisma and part ecclesiastical drone; and that’s further segmented into high and low-pitched tones. Still the fade finale is insinuated so subtly that it appears as if the piece could start up again within a nanosecond,

Give this one an A for execution as well as concept.

—For MusicWorks #122 Summer 2015