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Field Rituals

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Album Review

What a sweet solo debut this is from Koen Holtkamp, one half of Mountains — and a fitting addition to Type Recordings' catalog, one to put right beside Helios' Caesura. The "field" in Field Rituals is "the field," as in "being in the field," as in doing field recordings. Holtkamp's field recordings are delicate to start with (urban playground, a field at night, quiet rippling water), and delicately woven into the music, usually as a backdrop ("Night Swimmer"), occasionally as an integral part of the "score" ("Sky Flowers"). The music they underpin oscillates between drone and tune, ambient soundscapes and naïve pastorals, with plenty of acoustic guitar, melodica, and objects used as makeshift percussion. The closest comparison to Field Rituals would be the albums by Sweden's Tape (whose member Johan Berthling makes a guest appearance here, and that cannot be a coincidence). The album's pièce de résistance is "Sky Flowers," a gorgeous 15-minute track that begins in the playground and ends with a lulling harmonium (or is that a free-reed instrument?) droning away, and plenty of slow-burning bits of melodies developing in between. The other, shorter tracks are just as satisfying: the dreamy scapes of "Half Light" and "Walker," the subdued sweetness of "You Mean the World to Me," the non-assuming humming (by Scott Mou) in "Night Swimmer." There is nothing particularly original about Field Rituals, not after Tape has come along and fathered a slew of copycats, but Koen Holtkamp has a strong mastery of this dreamy kind of tuneful-meets-experimental ambient music, which makes it easy to recommend it. Just kill the lights, lay back, and float away. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Experimental guitarist Koen Holtkamp began his solo work with the formation of his label apestaartje while attending the Art Institute of Chicago in the late '90s. Holtkamp's work with heavily processed guitars and layers of textural sound began around this time with solo project Aero, using his label to release albums Pretend in 2001 and Rises & Falls in 2003. Around 2005, Holtkamp relocated to Brooklyn where he began focusing on Mountains, the drone project he'd begun with apestaartje co-founder...
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Field Rituals, Koen Holtkamp
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