On vinyl after its release last year on tape, Vanessa Amara’s Both of Us, along with the sister recording from the previous year, King Machine. The work of Birk Gjerlufsen Nielsen and Victor Kjellerup Juhl, and some of the strongest new work from the Danish experimental genre. Recorded in a church using organ, synth, piano, tape loops and guitar. From Posh Isolation.
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- Both Of Us & King Machine by Vanessa Amara
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“This looks ambient”, exclaims the office Robin as he hops around wearing his red breast with pride and dreaming of a day that he can escape all this non-music and start a totally heavy grindcore night in some dank basement in Leeds. Listening to the first part of side A would lead me to believe his words, but Danish duo of dudes who aren’t actually one woman called Vanessa Amara have more tricks up their quadruple sleeves than just ‘ambient’.
Some almighty rasps clatter forth from the organ abyss that is ‘Both of Us’ - a massive composition of various organs and percussion recorded in a church, then rearranged via looping tape into one long funereal meditation that spans the whole of side A. Harmonies that would break Max Richter down to tears and recycled organs to lull Tim Hecker into a stupor are the main body of the track, with toms and raw drum noise adding the necessary pepper to channel all this into your own heart. It’s all very grandiose and melancholy, so think again if you want a nice stroll. These two certainly didn’t, apparently cycling 30km to get to this church from their artiste retreate.
The second side, recorded a couple of years earlier, isn’t much of a departure from this. It’s a little more treble-heavy, layered and busy but still features the same organ texture and defiled drums as the last side. The crescendos here certainly fill the space in the first side, with the final moments of ‘King Machine’ proving to be quite ghostly. I think it’s the church channeling its own monolithic architecture through the Danes - theolo-architechtural sound? Who knows. Bloody music journalists, always trying to pigeonhole. But this is a great example of incorporating location into composition, allowing the artists to freely convey how they feel, in that exact place, at that exact time.
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