Album Reviews

Koen Holtkamp – Motion – Album Review


A single note greets you at the start of ‘Endless’ the centre piece of Koen Holtkamp’s new album ‘Motion’. This sound is pure and simple, until it unfolds, swirls within itself and develops into a pulsating, textured thing. After an initial few minutes, further electronic noises are introduced and layered until they start to unravel and feed upon themselves. Some elements slowly fade into the background and some steadily become centre stage. There are no clunky changes or sudden movements, all is gradual, with elements emerging and disappearing with a slow and steady movement. Later in the track, an abrasive element of guitar enters in the background. It continues to lurk somewhere distant, and never dominates as it would with other bands/ artists. This is instrumental music that doesn’t seek to control its surroundings, but creates something complex for the listener to explore, if they so choose. This track is a sprawling twenty plus minute that dominates and ends the album.

The first track ‘Between Visible Things’ enters with a fast paced keyboard barrage, which holds for several minutes until more slow sounds take control. The second track ‘Vert’ features a clear, but heavily distorted guitar almost throughout. This is unusual for the style, but it is low in the mix, and this could never be described as a guitar song, while it does form the back bone of the piece. ‘Crotales’ is a wall of electronic sound played against an organic sound of a double bass (which although appearing natural, was again computer generated).

Tracks vary in length from almost twenty minutes, to a near radio friendly six minutes, and in truth there feels no need to end any of the songs. They could easily just continue to develop. It is hard to tell the origin of any of these sounds, they are so heavily altered. Suffice to say that a variety of electronic sounds feature and even the ones you can clearly define, are of no definite origin.

Holtkamp is better known as half of the band ‘Mountains’, but this is a solo effort, having left his comrade Brendon Anderegg behind for this work. As with all ambient/ instrumental music, it is easy to ignore it and for it to disappear into its surroundings.  If you’re prepared to take the time and actually listen, it’s a rewarding album that can transport you to somewhere distant.

Motion is released on March 24th on the Thrill Jockey Label.

01 Between Visible Things

02 Vert

03 Crotales

04 Endlessness

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