Machinefabriek – The Measures Taken


[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]

The Measures Taken is the name for a “dance performance” performed by the Alexander Whitley Dance Company. It was commissioned by the Royal Opera House in London, and Rutger Zuydervelt, the dutch sound artist working under the moniker Machinefabriek, composed the score for this event. An already appealing figure in the acoustic music underground, Rutger has scored quite a number of soundtracks for films, dance representations or video installations.

As mentioned above, this time his work reached London at the famous Royal Opera House. The choreography signed by Alexander Whitley engages five dancers sharing the stage with projected geometrically designed visuals constructed by the digital artist Marshmallow Laser Feast. The visual projections interact with the performers’ movements in real time. If somebody missed this show (as certainly most of us did), the site gives an ample insight into The Measures Taken’s approach and desideratum.

The music is expressly designed to articulate the balance between the dynamic of the human movements and their inferential reflection into computer-generated projections. The result is close to an innovative hybrid sound capturing, with an incredibly plausible vitality; the graceful, muscular and anatomically unpredictable motions of the flesh on a background of static, automatic and pulsating counter-reactions generated by these threedimensional visuals.

The introduction and the four parts of the disc display different sound algorithms revealed along this human-digital interaction. Part I evokes a sort of accepted discord, tamed and controlled by the digital sound and endowed with the sensitivity of classical music. On Part II, the winning melody presented before turns into an abrasive discourse, revolving around the negative effects of over-used technology, this praised field of logos that seems to have replaced the ancient messianic philosophies. The modern pace of life no longer adapts to the solutions offered by theology or psychology (or vice-versa). Technology not only has condensed and reduced human sciences to formal and syncretic fit-to-live brochures, but has lured man into infinite possibilities, altogether false and impotent to accomplish what one is truly looking for: “a deliverance from the conditions that make us human”( John Grey, quoted from the program of the dance performance). This Part II goes on a playful tribal rhythm, concocting the idea that the future will once have its own internaut tribes, lost and forgotten in some deserted space on the web. Slowing down the pace, the tone becomes relaxing, insisting not on melody, but seeking perfection in terms of quality of sound.

Fair enough; this duality, sensitivity or sentimentalism by means of melody on the one hand, and ideal quality of form or structure on the other. Such duality reflects the similar dichotomy between human and human-controlled machine. Rutger Z. said in a video related to this soundtrack, that he is “much more interested in the quality of sound itself than in something like melody or instruments”. However he reached an equilibrium in the idea that sound (his sound sources being mostly field recordings and computer generated sounds) attains an exceptional quality and thus it is inherently melodious. Listen to this graceful suite for minimal digitalized harmonies that are presented on Part III: the space that takes form around you, changes alongside the rhythms you receive.

This dialogue that Rutger has established with the environment sometimes achieves a dramatic modulation, as if he were trying to regain spontaneity and composure of music by using the very arms of modern technology. In this idea, Part IV takes a slow turn back and reaches again, on the tune of a tragic aria, the debut pattern from the Introduction.

The disc is memorable regardless of the fact we don’t have access to the visual side. Zoharum records delights the aesthete listener with another marvelous release.

MachinefabriekThe Measures Taken
Zoharum, ZOHAR 091-2
CD/Digital 2015


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