J. T. Boogaard & R. M. van der Meulen – PLACE

Eindhoven is no Rotterdam, although both cities have similarities: a lot of new buildings, wide streets (initially build for cars), daring architecture, rough edges and a couple of cozy working-class neighborhoods.

This morning I took a walk through Strijp-S and Woensel West with PLACE as a soundtrack. I was lucky: all the elements for a perfect experience were present. A beautiful low sun produced a warm glow and generated a bit of warmth and there were hardly any people outside.

Most of the names on this cassette tape, released by Rotterdam based cassette label No Hay Banda, refer to different locations. For me, the soundscapes do well with these far from polished cities. Maybe because it’s so obvious they aren’t perfect. While living in Cologne I used GAS and the Kompakt Ambient Pop series as a soundtrack for my city walks. Heerlen, for me, is a perfect match for the releases on Pollen Records and most of the Border Community stuff.

PLACE does a good job in Eindhoven. The seven tracks on this tape seem to be especially crafted with an eye for detail, but fact is that there are the outcome of an improvisation. Roel van der Meulen (active as singer-songwriter RoelRoel) and Jasper Boogaard (in Nagasaki Swim and founder of Front) gathered their machines and got together in their home studio and started building these soundscapes.

Seven beautiful time capsules are the result of this meditation. Flirting with the warm melancholy of La Düsseldorf (‘Nieuwe Westerdokstraat’), estranging and open (‘II’), pastoral, cold and slowly building toward a climax that never comes (‘La Vilette’, ‘Nieuwkoopse Plassen’) and mysteriously exciting (opener ‘I’). There are references to the Cologne ambient sound and releases on Border Community, but Van der Meulen and Boogaard definitely succeed in creating a sound of their own.

Love the fact that there are no beats present. It makes PLACE ideal as an environmental soundtrack, adjustable to the pulse of the moment.

Can’t wait to use this excellent tape for my walk or bike-ride through the dunes near Haarlem.

PLACE by J. T. Boogaard & R. M. van der Meulen is released by No Hay Banda.


Maushaund – We’ll Meet Again

Remember when back in the second half of the 1990s trip-hop turned into lounge? We really needed that. We unconsciously knew things were bad and would become worse, but without a clue to fix the situation, the best thing to do was to turn away and create this fantastic, optimistic, metropolitan way of living (or at least the soundtrack to that). Gave us some damn good music, right? Remember Tosca, Kruder & Dorfmeister and St. Germain?

Back then, lounge wasn’t new. Every period of time before a big change has its own variant. Maybe Maushaund is leading a new lounge explosion. The Rotterdam based audiovisual artist Bart Kalkman just released his We’ll Meet Again EP on the Smikkelbaard record label from Leiden.

The lo-fi video for ‘Escape’ is a cool hint to the current lock-down situation in The Netherlands. His new EP is his first step into down-tempo and sounds really lo-fi. Works well because of the introvert, amateur-like feel it gives. The songs are quite short (around three minutes), much like the other much faster 8-bit breakbeat stuff he is producing normally as DJ Maushaund (a reference to his art studio called Muishond). You can find them on his Soundcloud.

The lengths of this EP is problematic if you want to use it as the soundtrack for your forced isolation, but you can always repeat it a couple of hundred times so the songs blend together in this nice, cosy, formless, happy feel of letting go all your worries. That’s lounge all about, isn’t?

We’ll Meet Again by Haushaund is released by Smikkelbaard and available via Bandcamp.


Lewsberg – In This House

The indie-rock scene in The Netherlands is thriving, especially near the west coast of Holland. The Rotterdam based band Lewsberg debuted in 2018 on Subroutine. This second long-player is self-released. Things didn’t change much. In This House is an uncomfortable collection of minimalistic indie songs. And I love it.

The band is named after Robert Loesberg, a Dutch poet and writer that was part of De Zestigers, a group of artists coming of age in the late sixties. Loesberg wrote poems for the magazine Bijster, columns for the infamous Propria Cures (a radical Amsterdam student magazine) and published one novel – Enige Defecten. Loesberg was highly talented but struggled with addiction, anti-social behaviour and life in general. He died at 46 in his house in The Hague.

The music of Lewsberg sounds like to soundtrack to Loesberg’s life. It’s minimalistic, a tiny bit out-of-tune, rushed and in way unfinished. The lyrics are tiny masterpieces, more spoken than sung with a deliberate accent, about the ordinary things in life. Musically Lewsberg draws from Velvet Underground, early The Modern Lovers, Television and Japan.

But in essence, Lewsberg embodies a typical Dutch feeling that is also manifest in a lot of Dutch literature, from Slauerhoff to W.F. Hermand and early Joost Zwagermans to Thomas van Aalten: having absolutely no fucking clue what you are (supposed to be) doing.

I love Lewsberg.

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