Musicians like Rutger Zuydervelt have a special relationship with presets – sounds, rhythms and samples that are inbuilt to keyboards or synthesizers. Presets are the opposite of individualism in music, they are commodities, sounds off the peg. Self-respecting musicians never use them, or perhaps use them precisely because they shouldn’t. Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek is a master of self-made sound and time-stretching, sensitively handling organic recordings and samples on countless releases, and regards preset sounds in an organ or a cheap keyboard as a tonal find, as a part of the cacophony of every day life. He uses the chugging of a Bontempi rhythm box or preset strings like field recordings, with the same calm and matter-of-factness as the murmur of ventilation or the hum of a refrigerator.
These Bontempi-rhythms plus the computer-stretched sounds of saxophone (Espen Reinertsen) and voice (Mariska Baars) are the base elements of Vergezicht 1 & 2. It is stunning how Zuydervelt manages to produce depth and meditative calm with this supposedly soulless material. Never-ending expanses and the mechanic rhythms overlap and start shifting, slowly and imperceptibly before the beat gets nervous, starts to stumble to finally come to a standstill with the slowly swelling bass. The track is held in suspense, rattling and rustling. Ghostly squeaking breezes in, then another stop with a soft beat of the drum. Slowly, the track builds itself up again with filtered grooves and prolonged notes.
On Vergezicht 2, the Bontempi-rhythm sets in again, after seven minutes of rising and subsiding expanses and the breezy, ethereal soprano, this time slowed down alongside warm basses and single notes from the piano. Then a momentary halt, almost too beautiful and too clean for this track. Soon an ominous siren call floats above the euphony and restores order by friction. This subtle irritation is part of a complete acoustic pattern. It is not possible to imagine Machinefabriek’s music without the irritiating moment, the doubt turned into sound.
The Dutch word ‘Vergezicht’ means view or panorama. And it is a wide acoustic panorama opened by Zuydervelt here that reveal presets in new light.