Machinefabriek With Voices

Release Date 01/18/2019

(Western Vinyl)

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With Voices is the newest recording by Dutch composer Rutger Zuydervelt under the moniker

Machinefabriek. True to its title, the album’s eight pieces exhibit Zuydervelt’s use of cassette

recorders, tone generators, radios, synths, and other hifi curio to construct bewildering aural

architecture around vocal work from Peter Broderick, Marissa Nadler, Richard Youngs, Chantal

Acda, Terence Hannum (of Locrian) and others. These human voices are featured as musical

instruments rather than mere vehicles of lyrical content, resulting in a sub-linguistic mosaic of

primordially stirring moods.

The initial spark of With Voices was kindled while Zuydervelt was in Taipei creating music for a

dance company. In the final days of his trip, a dancer named Wei-Yun Chen caught Zuydervelt’s

ear with an instagram video featuring a voice that turned out to be Wei-Yun’s own (she would end

up on the album’s seventh movement, a piece that features dissected bits of Taiwanese poetry

amid low-pitched murmurs and whispering fogbanks of static). The encounter stirred Zuydervelt

to create a single 35 minute soundscape upon which each vocalist on With Voices was

encouraged to improvise, be it talking, reading, singing, or wordless, guttural intoning. Such vocal

smatterings were then used to determine how the other tonal elements should be arranged,

dictating where each musical passage would ultimately lead. “The idea was for everyone to just

do what came naturally” he recalls, “the element of unpredictability was important to me.”

Indicative of this approach “III” (the tracks are simply titled with Roman numerals) slowly winds

like ivy through staccato phrases spoken by Zuydervelt’s peer Peter Broderick, whose micro-

incantations skip along mechanically only to telescope into monastic grandeur at the track’s

midpoint; the vibrations of vocal cords are often stretched to a seismic hum to form the heavy

implements in Zuydervelt’s toolkit. On “V”, tape recordings of Berlin electronic artist Zero Years

Kid (aka Joachim Badenhorst) sputter with their own apparent intelligence like a faulty AI

attempting to interpret reels of human speech in some ruinous library of the distant future. Finally,

a siren-like Marissa Nadler leads the suite to its lullabic endpoint with overlapping wisps of

harmony devoid of accompaniment ending the album on an angelic note.

In these moments, like much of With Voices, warm-blooded arteries seem to have grown around

bits of well-designed artifice to form something warmly alien, soberly futuristic, and inherently

satisfying. More than simply an album of collaborative features, With Voices is a mutating collage

of modern minimalism that challenges as often as it comforts. There is an alchemical,

metallurgical quality that arises from Zuydervelt’s unique way of merging humanness with

abstraction, harshness with beauty, and unintelligibility with familiarity on what may be the most

affecting Machinefabriek release to date.


01. I (with Terence Hannum)

02. II (with Chantal Acda)

03. III (with Peter Broderick)

04. IV (with Marianne Oldenburg)

05. V (with Zero Years Kid)

06. VI (with Richard Youngs)

07. VII (with Wei-Yun Chen)

08. VIII (with Marissa Nadler)


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