Reinier van Houdt - Drift Nowhere Past [Elsewhere Music - 2022]
Drift Nowhere Past features six pieces created by Dutch pianist and composer Reinier van Houdt during the Covid lockdown of 2020. It’s an album, that seemingly effortlessly drifts between the lulling and soothing, to the uneasy and unsettling- with moments of real disquiet and light noise sear occurring along its length.
The CD appeared in March of last year on Elsewhere, and is presented in a mini card gatefold. Cover artwork wise we get a very theme-fitting picture, of a hand pressing against a window looking down into a deserted night-time street.
Each track was created and recorded in a single day during the worldwide lockdown- and captures both the uncertainty and strange lull of that time, which(one hopes) we’ll never experience again. Central to most of the tracks is Houdt piano playing, but this is often added to by radio samples, strange sing-song voices, low-key noise elements, field recordings, and subtly unbalancing production elements.
The album opens with the title track, which comes at dead on the fourteen minutes mark. It’s built around a slow bounding piano melody, which is joined fairly quickly by folky sing-song female harmonies and singing. As the track progresses more discordant note darts are added in occasionally, as well as the original melody lines darkening at its edges- along with the darting addition of more concerned-sounding female French signing/ speaking, & eerier tolling chimes.
Track three “Horizon With Out traveller” and it’s just under eleven-minute runtime, moves from blends of waved ‘n’ aged male or female vocals over slowly felt keys. Onto crackling samples of old orchestral records and people-less train ‘n’ tram machinery field recordings. Through to baying animal sounds, and rising drone elements, which are edged with water shift and crackling tone elements- which get slowly illuminated by moments of slowly pulsing and purring noise pitches.
We have the darting ‘n’ shrill just under eight minutes of “Bardo For Cor” which brings together aged piano key rolls, twittering radio signals, dragging ‘n’ fat glitches, and warped muzak. Or to finish off the album there’s the eleven and a half minutes of “Mystery Of Erasure” which brings together slow rattling metallic percussion, elegant key runs, sinister bass tone sears ‘n’ drags, creepy tone stretches & carefully spoken male voice, and bound piano key pile-ups.
Drift Nowhere Past is one of the few sonic releases that managers capture the whole strange selection of emotions, fears, and hopes we all felt during the Covid lockdown. So really from that you need to decide if this is an album to embrace, or not- as it’s both troubling & unbalancing with moments of strange wonder, and soothing emotion.Roger Batty