Label: Thrill Jockey Release date: 01/11/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon There are certain composers that can make music for the night. I’m not talking about The xx, though it is undeniable that their music is best at 3am, I’m talking about actual compositions, songs without vocals but with movements and beauty without extravagance. This select group contains all sorts – from the minimalist Max Richter (more Infra than or memory House), William Basinski (especially his Disintegration Loops) and on a more modern note, Seams (‘Night Cycles’) and Gold Panda (‘I’m With You But I’m Lonely). These songs and albums have something in common – they don’t muck around, but they don’t go anywhere. They’re present in your mind when you listen to them at night, drunk or otherwise, and they’re really background music that you can focus to intently. Actually, that’s unfair – they’re background music to somewhere that you’re not, they tell stories in their gaps and their recordings, they open up and let you listen in on a world, on a mind. They build up slowly and push you through a euphoric eye of the needle (‘Infra 5’), they take you into the city at the dead of night to show you just how peaceful the streets can be (‘Night Cycles’) and they take you into somewhere ethereal but altogether ordinary, the sublime nature of nature itself (Disintegration Loops). And now it seems they have more company by the name of Koen Holtkamp. Holtkamp is a Brooklyn based musician, formally based in Chicago, which should tell you something for the uninitiated. His own brand of noise projects I’ve been aware of for a while now, from his work in Mountains and under the name of Aero to his previous solo work, he often deals and trades in the more ambient side of music, a minimalist, a recorder. His work Field Rituals was punctuated by birdsong and held together by drone, an interesting work, but not one that really stood out for me – it seemed a work that you ‘got’ or you didn’t, and I didn’t. However, in his latest release, two tracks, both very different, have made his music turn a corner. Gone is the sense of absolute precision and in its place comes the entropic tangle that is the latter half of ‘Loosely Based On Bees‘, full of drones and noise. Gone is the overuse and over relying on field recordings – they’re here, but his talent as a minimalist composer comes through more when he has full rein his sounds and movements. Here we have songs that last, songs that grow and develop. We have two sides of vinyl that really are sides – they are recordings of his mind, his purest expression. This, like a lot of what is loosely called “neo-classical” is not for everyone. It’s difficult and slow, it builds up in an almost random and beautifully changing speed, it ebbs and flows and demands patience. This isn’t as easy to understand as ‘Infra’, this isn’t as simple or basic as Basinski’s work, this is the middle ground. We have complexity in rhythm, we have phrases phased over time and growing gently and naturally out of sync, but we also have the intelligence of the movement that Richter so often demonstrates. This is an album (or a single, however you want to call it) that moves by itself. It is at once a natural sound and a complex and well thought through composition; it’s a composed cacophony. Photobucket