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Machinefabriek - Amalgaam [Zoharum - 2020]

Machinefabriek is the alias of modern electronics pioneer and graphic artist Rutger Zuydervel. He began recording as Machinefabriek in 2004 and has since become a prolific force on the avant-garde electronic music scene working on a host of projects with other musicians both on stage and in the studio, from strictly musical collaborations to recording film scores and even in recent times a game score. Zuydervel is always busy, Amalgaam is one of four new Machinefabriek albums released in 2020 thus far, and you wouldn’t bet against him releasing another before the year ends. Anyway, let's get to the music.

The album consists of three full-length tracks, totalling just over thirty minutes in length that are preceded by a short intro of ambient synth that lasts for about a minute and a half and sets things up nicely. "Amalgaam I" is the first track proper and after a sinister horror/drone synth opening with some glitchy electronic noise, it eventually settles into a quite pleasant minimalist piece that is every so often punctured by this almost Carpenter-esque stab of phat synth that sounds like it has been culled from The Thing soundtrack. As the track develops more and more found sounds are incorporated before vocal samples bring an almost angelic feeling to the final three or four minutes.
"Metallic" is up next, and after an opening of glitchy electronics and industrial sound samples the track settles into some sort of ambient industrial soundscape, the shortest of the three main tracks at a mere five minutes it doesn’t really shift and change that much beyond the opening seconds.

The final track, "Amalgaam I" is the album’s longest cut at over 15 minutes in length and probably represents my favourite here. One can instantly hear reference to the Carpenter/ Morricone score for The Thing as this glacially moving piece plays up that sense of isolation you can almost hear the sound of the ice moving and cracking. The track builds incorporating more samples and some white noise before climaxing and fading away to nothing.

One can’t help but feel this is the perfect lockdown album, the sense of isolation is palpable and whilst it could tip some people over the edge I find it has an almost comforting quality that suggests everything will be ok in time. The CD release from Zoharum comes in a stylish foldout digipak designed by Zuydervelt himself. A fitting package for a beautiful, stylish album that is currently providing the soundtrack to my working day.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Darren Charles
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