Co-founder of the Apestaartje label, with Brendon Anderegg, both of them also active behind the ambient duo Mountains, Koen Holtkamp is back for a third release under his own name after two other solo albums as Aero.
"Gravity/Bees" is a two tracks, each one around 15 minutes, vinyl and mp3 release on Thrill Jockey. While his works with Brendon Anderegg mix introspection, emotions and self-restraint, solo he follows more intuitive, potentially hazardous, pathways and this record looks somewhat like a long alley of mirrors, in which reflections intersect endlessly, both modern and retro-futurist, managing both exploration and integration of stylistic features.
More than expressions of himself, these compositions are projections loosely driven, on a previously white sheet, of elements he precisely selected. And you can feel, mostly on the first track, this constant opposition between digital electronic and analogue synthesis which makes this record subtly bionic, sounding both like seventies ambient (Bian Eno / Terry Riley) and a product of the 2010 ambient scene.
While I'm impressed by the quality and the opulent, glowing rainy day colored sounds of “In the Absence of Gravity Please Note the Position of the Sun”, I'm not feeling completely implicated as a listener, and I wish it was somewhat more authentic, less hypothetical. It's like you are always in two different places and times from begin to end, never totally settle down, always readjusting yourself and fighting for your balance. Bingo, that was just the goal of this composition. Once that said, it's a pleasant composition but which would escape a precise definition with its chimera-like coexistence of spaciotemporal perspectives.
Less directly seductive but much more amazing and convincing is “Loosely Based on Bees”. Koen Holtkamp used for foundation of this track field recordings he made of a beehive on a friend's roof, and this presence gives a welcome authenticity and organic dimension. You'll hear the constant buzz, hiss, and thousands of tiny impacts from a swarm of active bees. There, your body is firmly anchored to this contemplation, you eyes semi-closed in the direction of bees, feeling the warmth of the late morning sun on your face. Your thoughts and mind are condemned to drift, endlessly, vision is blurred by the focus and you're almost hypnotized but still fully conscious and careful about not being noticed by the bees. You're floating away, swept along by consecutive and progressively amplified beautiful and invigorating electric guitar drones waves. This is not so far from the Landing / Windy & Carl / Flying Saucer Attack school of guitar drone but there is a strict accuracy and lucidity due to the presence of bees in the background which gives new sensations.