Pre-Echo Press is pleased to announce Beast, a new project & moniker from acclaimed Sound/Visual Artist, Koen Holtkamp (Mountains, Thrill Jockey). A somewhat radical departure from Holtkamp’s previous working modes where sound has typically been treated as an edifice to be sculpted, the works here are far more concerned with the generative possibilities of rhythm. The pieces on Beast developed out of Holtkamp’s creation last year of an audio-visual performance that centers on the physical properties of light via 3D laser projections. Rather than simply make a visual element for a piece of music (or vice-versa), Holtkamp created a system that intricately links every aspect of the performance, from the modular synth and virtual instruments to the constantly shifting projections of his “Color Phase” light installations. As form follows function, the sounds created here are by necessity more immediate, more off the cuff, more pattern oriented, and explore a much further range of dynamics than the somewhat amorphous (yet still gorgeous) work he’s become well known for. The work harkens back to Process Music of the 1970s, being simultaneously minimal & maximal (think Jon Gibson), as well as the the lush pop-minimalism of early 1980s Soft Verdict, all the while remaining thrillingly contemporary.
Beast Volume One was recorded in real time and is presented with minimal edits to divide it into three pieces, and is the slightly rawer & more abandoned of the two volumes, while Beast Volume Two is a more “in studio” version, and as such retains a more palpable air of elegance while still remaining a side of the same coin.’
“Koen Holtkamp embraces the lush maximalism of ‘70s ’Process Music’ and mannered ‘80s pop minimalism as BEAST, making a radical but logical departure from his atomically-detailed modular synth recordings released by Type, Thrill Jockey and Umor Rex over the past decade. It’s the most rhythmically focussed material in his catalogue.
On Volume One we hear this ‘Process’-oriented approach at its rawest and most hypnotic in three parts edited from real time performance; firstly in Yesterday with a gloriously effervescent yet precise side of chattering Reichian percussion and brownian electronic squabble that precipitates Can-like rolling breaks and beautifully moody bass synth swells with ‘floor-reedy urgency, then with the more pastoral swell and bustle of Today, and in a duskier projection of creamy harmonic washes and needling rhythmelody called Tomorrow which distinctly resonates in the air with Crepuscular ’80s belgian pop-classical gestures.
The four parts of Volume Two were generated and edited in the studio and are arguably bound tighter than their predecessor, resulting in more crystalline structures and a more puckered sort of elegance. That’s clearly in effect with the lissom curves and clipped, airborne waltz of Look Out, while the glittering cascade of Chase Scene sweetly define that paradoxical feeling of poised stasis within a rapid flux, harnessed only by its dembow-like rhythm, before the lofty brass of False Bottom seems to describe a sea cruise where you see the cosmos reflected in a nocturnal lagoon, and Taipei Hideaway gives breathlessly ecstatic close recalling the black MIDI rushes of TCF or Lubomyr Melnyk meditating on a particularly strong swedger.