The tracks on this album might not be as old as the photo on its sleeve, but for me it sure feels like they were made in another era. There are beats, there are pop songs – hell, there are even some catchy tunes on here that you can hum along with! Characteristics that seem to have disappeared from my music.
It all started behind a piano, with me working my way through ‘Für Elise’. I must have been six or seven. Later, in my teenage years, it became clear that if I wanted to have some credibility, playing the guitar would be a much better option. So the piano lessons went out the window, along with Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. Time for power chords and growing long hair. I was wrapping my fingers around the fretboard and a pick, playing Metallica’s ‘One’ and other popular favorites.
Thanks to a tough-looking metalhead at school camp, I discovered death metal. I went to the library and looked up every band name I remembered seeing embroidered on this guy’s jean jacket. Carcass, Napalm Death, Gorefest, Cannibal Corpse, etc. I stepped into a world that had an obsessive (or just childish) interest in horror and gore, and I became a master in drawing unreadable band logos.
The next logical step was to join a band. Through an ad in a fanzine, I became a guitar player in the (not so) brilliantly named band Into Infinity. We rented a cold and moisty practise space and faithfully rehearsed every sunday, writing our own compositions and dissecting songs from our favorite bands. I clearly remember the crowd cheering when I started the opening riff of The Gathering’s ‘Strange Machines’ during our first and only gig, at the drummer’s high school, in 1996. The band existed for only three months.
A classmate in design school was responsible for my first attempts at making electronic music. He gave me a simple software program (Fast Tracker), which I learned from the inside out within a month. For evenings on end, I was staring at the screen of my parents’ computer, headphones on, constructing beats and taping cassettes. By then, my musical taste had changed to more electronic and danceable music like the Chemical Brothers, the Prodigy and Orbital. It felt great to be able to make music like that, all by myself, with no band mates to argue with.
During my study at the art academy, in 1999, I moved to Arnhem to share a house with a dozen other art students. An extremely inspiring environment. A housemate sold me his mixing board, I recorded the violin playing of another, and I got myself an electric guitar as payment for a graphic design job. My collection of hardware was rappidly expanding, and my room became a musical playground, filled with drum machines, multi-track recorders, samplers, pedals, keyboards, and guitars. I was greedily exploring every possibility within the limitations of my (mostly second-hand) equipment, finding ways to translate my musical ideas into sonic matter.
Most tracks you’ll hear on this album were made in that period. I began to make CD-Rs, in small editions of 10 to 40. I spend hours designing sleeves, printing them in the local copy chop, and cutting and folding booklets. I didn’t really know how to sell or distribute my music, so at that time my only audience existed of my friends, and the handful of customers that bought an album in the record shop I worked at.
After giving one of my CD-Rs to Kultuurhuis Bosch, the local venue, I was asked to do a concert. The idea of being on stage all by myself was way too scary, so I asked some friends to assist me with their saxophone, cello, and spoken word skills. The gig was performed as Machinefabriek – a name I had stumbled across many times, as it was mounted in big letters on a building I passed every time I went to the supermarket. Machinefabriek means machine factory. An appropriate name, but most of all, a beautiful word.
It was when I received a CD that I ordered on the Internet that I was introduced to Lampse. The package included a flyer from that label which caught my attention. From then on, it went really fast. I contacted the label, and a few months later (May 2006) ‘Marijn’ was released. My first official full-length album. It marked the beginning of something you could call a decent musical career.
Compiling this album wasn’t easy. There was an great amount of tracks to choose from, on more then 40 cassettes and 20 CD-Rs. Nothing from those cassettes made it into this selection, but on the CD-Rs, I found a number of gems I had forgotten about. It was like meeting old friends again, finding out that although we might have changed a bit, there was still a connection.
I once read that a lot of musicians that I respect started by imitating the music they loved. This was good to know, as I guess that a lot of the music on this disc might be my version of either Autechre, Aphex Twin, the Notwist, múm, Photek or Mogwai. Or all of those at once. Obviously, I still hope these tracks have enough relevance to be heard. For me they do, as a definite reminder of a stage I’ve passed, but haven’t forgotten.
Rutger Zuydervelt, February 2010
released October 1, 2011
All music by Rutger Zuydervelt
Saxophone on ‘Pé’ by Petra Langenkamp
Cover photo by Rob Zuydervelt
Thanks to Monika Herodotou, John Twells, Boomkat, Juha van ‘t Zelfde, Coert Wigbels, Petra Langenkamp, Kenneth Kirschner, Stephen Vitiello, Ralph Steinbrüchel, Taylor Deupree, Steve Albini and everyone that supported me through the years.
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