Machinefabriek’s Rutger Zuyderfelt has such an impressive discography where subtlety and restraint are key components that when he started doing scores for dance performances, I couldn’t wait to hear what would unfold. Following on from previous collaborations with circus artists and dancers Marta Alstadsæter and Kim-Jomi Fischer, As Much As It Is Worth and Engel, Our Arms Grew Together not only juxtaposes the feelings and ideas from the previous two but brings them into a new light.
Expressive synthesizer elements are imbued with that aforementioned restraint, adding distinct texture and depth to the performers’ movements. Hushed breaths on “Pre-Fashion” or quiet bird calls on “V-ing” add a layer of intimacy that spreads through even the most rhythmic spaces. “V-ing” is a perfect example as those early moments of birdsong and distant tones coalesce into minimal beats and glowing electronics, but there’s a real sense of closeness in each synth swell and each plodding progression. Zuydervelt is so good at building this warmth into his music no matter the context.
Another recent effort from Zuydervelt, Prisma+ is off in another hemisphere entirely, but still manages to bring that same inviting sensibility to the expansive, techno-infused piece. Details become focal points like the emotive grit of roiling basslines early in the piece, moving as the driving force beneath dub-inflected arrangements or the crisp transients built within the latter beats. It gives “Prisma” life.
Prisma+ is really about the remixes, though. Matt Wand appears twice, though I return most to the short, strange “Scarlett’s Blood Bubbles Mix.” Wand deconstructs tiny elements of “Prisma” and sends them through an angled matrix of unfathomable processes. It’s eerie and fantastic. Nick Storring’s “Tactile Dub” is what I imagine the last moments of consciousness while being submerged in a metal drum sound like before Phil Maguire sends the piece through a soothing ambient drift with his “Wheat Flats Mix.” The remixes shine new lights on different parts of “Prisma,” somehow making it feel more like a Machinefabriek piece than it ever has in the end.
I don’t imagine Rutger Zuydervelt will slow down any time soon (a lovely album of vignettes called Texturalis came out in between these two releases), but with his palette and approach always shifting and looking for new ground to explore, there will always be a new invitation waiting for us.