Not the original cover art
Label: Sonic Pieces
So the story goes that Rutger Zuyderveldt and Gareth Davis met once for 15 seconds and out of that enough music for four albums was spawned. That’s an exaggerated version of events; nonetheless, by now this pairing is the stuff of myths. ‘Grower’ is the result of the same session that brought us last year’s ‘Drape’ release on Home Normal from this pair. Unsurprisingly, ‘Grower’ is surely to be as treasured by all that enjoyed the first round of music.
With ‘Grower’ what we get are two songs clocking in at over 15 minutes apiece. The thing that has made this duo a delight to hear is how well they feed off one another, especially considering the brevity of the sessions that led to this release. These are songs that take their time and are delicately nuanced but also surprising: the stillness is just an illusion as things are always transforming, elements drift in and out of focus, and what seem to be incidental moments actually become motifs within the pieces. Machinefabriek proves himself again and again to be a great collaborator always serving to counterpart the very best attributes of those he works with.
‘Grower Part 1’ begins with a long stretch of Rutger’s droning guitars setting the tone. But once that clarinet enters there is a whole new element added to the setting. When Davis enters there is a sense of foreboding and mystery that becomes clear, almost as if Davis gives the evocative aspects of Machinefabrieks’s works a sort of pinpoint accuracy. Gareth Davis does a lot with a little once again as he seems to be able to reference various world influences in three notes or less a la Demdike Stare. It’s quite unbelievable how many corners of the world this music is able to reference in its 33-minute span.
‘Grower part 2’ is the far more subdued piece at the outset. Davis comes in early on this one and Machinefabriek tends to take a more reserved position in the background. This time the relationship is reversed: it is Rutger who acts to give Davis’s work a sort of platform to build off of. But as it evolves, the piece turns noisier and darker than it’s predecessor. The final minutes seem like some nightmare of dissonance that might serve as part of the score to a Dario Argento film circa 2032.
The two songs that comprise ‘Grower’ are perfectly configured to create a narrative, just as the four compositions that made ‘Drape’ were. It seems odd to label improvised works as ‘perfectly configured’, but really this is a very focused release. Sure, such decisions are made after the fact, but still; we as listeners reap the rewards.
‘Grower’ is an album that often takes its time. These two artists hear each other and hear each other well, never missing a step, never getting ahead of one another. The only way these sorts of musical payoffs exist is when you have two musicians working with a sort of chemistry that is either organic or, well, not-at-all. Needless to say, these are two artists that balance/challenge/coerce the best from each other.