'Macrocosms' is the fourth collaboration album by Banabila & Machinefabriek. Again, Michel Banabila and Rutger Zuydervelt spent a few concentrated weeks swapping sound files and sculpting ideas to fully form tracks. This intuitive way of working and open-minded approach resulted in an album that harks back to the rhythmic playfulness of 'Travelog', while also maintaining the abstract tendencies of 'Error Log'.
The overall theme deals with the macro and micro - how incredibly tiny and insignificant we become when zooming out, and how wondrous small worlds can be found within ours when zooming in. Artist Sarah Payton describes it beautifully in her spoken word section of the title track.
Field recordings made by Banabila at the nature reserve Biała Woda in Poland are an important addition to the music, reinforcing the sense of place, and invoking intricate, detailed worlds of their own. Combining elements of ambient, musique concrète, noise, and even the 'fourth world', this Rotterdam duo created a unique sonic world expanding their oeuvre with another fine album.
'Macrocosms' is released by Tapu Records, in digital formats, and as a limited edition CD in a beautiful six panel digipak.
This album was #2 in the ACL 2016 TOP TEN ELECTRONIC:
Four collaborations, each one different yet alluring in its own right: this is a pairing that works. On their latest effort, Banabila and Machinefabriek use field recordings along with elements both organic and electronic to highlight the relationship between the micro and the macro. The natural world is the focus, presented as benign (“Kaleidoscope”) or dangerous (“Prey”), but always lovely by design. The beautiful photography draws the viewer in like a Venus Fly Trap, but the sounds are worth the risk. (Richard Allen)
This album was #3 in the TOP 16 DJBROADCAST Dutch releases 2016. www.djbroadcast.net/article/137861/de-16-beste-nederlandse-albums-van-2016-2
Reviews / quotes:
Macrocosms is the fourth time that Michel Banabila and Rutger Zuydervelt - both based in Rotterdam - have swapped files and sculpted pieces together. There’s a certain creative tension between the recognizable and the unrecognizable, with computer generated sounds, guitars, keyboards and field recordings from a visit to a Polish woodland all subject to processing. And as opposed to the architectural sweep of Crumble, some of these nine pieces have song-like structures and range from near still lifes to rhythm-based compositions. “Awake” is a brisk, intricate mix of pulses with glitchy tics so that one keeps shifting, which is further turned around when a simple vibraphone and synth melody arrives. On the title track artist Sarah Paynton intones “Inside the single world we think we see are a hundred thousand separate worlds”. Simple, bold keyboard arpeggios run through the track and her voice is finally subsumed into a cloud of tiny sound particles that spiral off into fractal like shapes, making it an appropriate analogy to the different levels of detail in the duo’s music. (Mike Barnes)
Dutch artists Michel Banabila & Rutger Zuydervelt aka Machinefabriek have been collaborating together since 2012, and their fourth album Macrocosm is out really soon! We got a sneak preview of a few tracks (the first one, and last two from this little feature), and I recommend grabbing the older releases and following either on Bandcamp so you can grab the new one when it appears. We hopped back to their first self-titled release, and to the amazing 2013 release Travelog in the middle. Banabila has been interested for decades in sounds (musical and otherwise) from the far reaches of the world, and has a long career making hybrid music from studio techniques, tape sampling & then digital methods along with acoustic instruments. Machinefabriek is best known for long drone works, but also works in shorter forms and is a master of digital sound design. It's great to have something new from their collaboration, which as always is more than the sum of its parts. (Peter Hollo)
NORMAN RECORDS: (8/10)
Regular collaborators Michel Banabila and Rutger Zuydervelt are back at it as Banabila & Machinefabriek with ‘Macrocosms’, the pairs fourth collaboration, no less. Beautifully presented in a matte digipak with photography by Michel and graphic design by Rutger.
It’s worth noting that the CD edition varies from the digital release, in that the individual tracks have been melted into a continuous mix for a journey interrupted by brief pauses of silence.
Across the disc, the lines between the real/organic and synthetic are blurred, utilising a seemingly endless vibrant palette of recognisable elements i.e “real” instruments and processed, electronic sounds and field recordings. The overall experience is something like glimpsing into worlds within worlds, within the world - Microcosms and Macrocosms. Something that’s always held an endless fascination for me. Take a dog for example, within that creature is a whole universe of smaller ecosystems, and other minute livings things like bacteria. Is our own planet just a single cell in a larger organism in an infinite universe? My head explodes just pondering these things. It seems the artists have similar thoughts and through sound conjure visions of these large and small scale worlds. It makes for pleasurable and thought provoking listening, at times recalling Jon Hassell and Brian Eno’s ‘Fourth World’ ambient. There’s an immense of amount of intricately detailed sound throughout the disc - like zooming into insect realms, then further into the very fabric of matter; cells, molecules and atoms. While larger sounds evoke images of weather systems and the cosmos. A wonderfully vibrant, organic sonic world that exists as a fusion of reality and imagination. (Anthony)
Het zou toch wel eens verrassend of verfrissend zijn als je bij een nieuwe release van de innovatieve, toonaangevende muzikanten Michel Banabila en Rutger Zuydervelt ofwel Machinefabriek kan zeggen dat ze de plank volledig hebben misgeslagen? Dat ze diverse plugjes gewoonweg verkeerd hebben aangesloten en het lijkt of beide een fikse tik met een koekenpan van een niet geringe doorsnede op de hersenpan hebben gehad. Beetje dwepen met een discografie die in tegenstelling tot de Chinese muur wél vanaf de maan zichtbaar is en dan met zulke pulp aan komen zetten. Maar ja, dat is dus niet zo. Na drie eerdere samenwerkingsverbanden moet ik heel saai melden dat hun nieuwste worp Macrocosms wederom een geweldige bundeling van krachten is. Ze serveren 9 tracks vol abstracte elektronica, experimentele ambient, glitch, veldopnames (uit voornamelijk Polen) en ludieke samples, onder meer van de contrabas van Ilya Ziblat Shay. Daarbij hoor je in de titeltrack nog de stem van Sarah Payton. Voor de rest weten de heren zelf weer voor een rijk gedetailleerd en biologerend geheel te zorgen, dat echt van een andere orde is en zelfs wel afkomstig van een andere planeet lijkt. En weer zo anders dan voorheen, waardoor ze weten te overrompelen met allerlei originele, organische en meeslepende vondsten. Avontuurlijke, nachtelijke muziek die je ook nog eens bij de lurven grijpt. Er staat gewoonweg geen maat op deze klasbakken. (JanWIllem Broek)
This is already the fourth time that Rotterdam based composers Michel Banabila and Rutger Zuydervelt, also known as Machinefabriek get together to record music, and do a release. First there was the self-titled release (see Vital Weekly 860), 'Travelog' (see Vital Weekly 898) and, thirdly 'Error Log' (see Vital Weekly 984). That is perhaps already a most remarkable fact, seeing these two men being very active when it comes to playing and composing music, also for occasions we don't hear or see because they are not always released as such, music for films, installations, theatre, and dance. For the fourth time these two men manage to surprise the listener again;
'Macrocosmos' is not a rehash for the earlier albums, I think. The first was abstract, the second more melodic, and the third was more about ambient music, through the use of longer pieces. On the fourth album they explore the best of these three worlds and expands on that, with a relatively bigger role for real instruments, or so it seems. This is their most all-round album so far, I'd say. The guitar plays quite a big role in some of these pieces, along with the crackling of the modular synth, but in 'Stokjes', 'Awake' and 'Turmoil' they as easily slip into a rhythmic piece, the latter with an almost Alva Noto like but with a slightly more exotic mood. Melodies are never far away in these pieces, and 'Awake' is a like true pop song, with an electro melody below. Then there are pieces in which the ambient side is more present, such as in 'Prey', 'Upwards' or the title piece. Here the influence of Zuydervelt seems to be more apparent, even when these duties are no doubt not divided like this; this is just something I was thinking of. It seems that field recordings, mainly
insects, birds and rain, play a role in the majority of these pieces, which further enhances a somewhat 'tropical' feel to the music. That too might be something I am just imagining of course.
It makes that this album has a very diverse feeling to it, in terms of textures they choose, of changing moods, instruments to use and make it a fine ride for the listener, going through various places; like a road trip through the macrocosmos. An excellent release by these masters of their trade. (FdW)
Their fourth collaborative album shows Michel Banabila and Machinefabriek in a playful mood, somewhat less abstract than on their previous album Error Log.
Macrocosms radiates the joy of swapping sound files and surprising each other in turn with an unexpected twist of the material: field recordings from the Biala Woda nature reserve in Poland, musique concrête, noise, ambient, ‘fourth world’ samples, ‘Holger Czukay style’ sped up guitars, and whatnot…
“The overall theme deals with the macro and micro – how incredibly tiny and insiginificant we become when zooming out, and how wondrous small worlds can be found within ours when zooming in.” Michel and Rutger are a perfect pair: two giants of Dutch experimental music, combining the best of many worlds. Abstract experimentalism, cinematic romanticism, impressionistic environmentalism… it’s all in the details that merge into a recognisable trademark style and manages to surprise with every new release. (Peter van Cooten)
A CLOSER LISTEN:
To date we have heard four full-length collaborations between Michel Banabila and Machinefabriek, each one different in tone. This one, while intricate and multi-faceted, is their most accessible to date. It all starts with a concept: the micro and the macro. Listening to the album is the aural version of zooming in and out with a hi-tech camera. Pieces of sound appear, migrate to different speakers, and dissipate. Zoom in and one can hear them better; zoom out and one can appreciate the overall picture. The cover art implies a scientist’s eye, so it’s no surprise that the music includes field recordings, made by Banabila in Poland’s Biała Woda (a reminder to check out Izabela Dłużyk’s Soundscapes of Summer, also recorded in Polish woods). The brightness of the album’s visual tones reflect that of the music, which at times can be downright danceable (“Stokjes”) ~ and when’s the last time one danced to field recordings? It doesn’t happen often. This joyful combination is what makes the album so accessible. One can imagine the artists opening each other’s sound files, getting excited about their next ideas, and committing them to tape. Crickets, choirs and children each find their places in “Upwards”, serving as both rhythm and adornment. The world itself is rhythmic, often intentionally but sometimes not; Banabila and Machinefabriek find hidden swayings and surround them with aural sculptures. Even when the track turns ambient, the listener recalls the tempo that launched the piece. But the title track is where everything comes into play. On this piece, Sarah Payton surprises with a spoken word segment that seems at first like a documentary excerpt, perfect for the nature (pun intended) of the release. Arriving at the album’s midpoint, the voice is unexpected, yet comforting. Inside the single world we think we see, a hundred thousand separate worlds go about their daily business, connected only by the thinnest of threads, a contingency of each only vaguely perceived by the others. Following the narrative, one zooms out even further, above the earth, recalling the photographic work of Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Piano, strings, static and samples provide an elegant backdrop against which Payton herself first approaches, then recedes, a metaphor for her own words. Some collaborations seem like work, but this one seems like play. It’s clear that the artists enjoy what they are doing and are inspired by this partnership. While we often write that we’d love to hear more of the same sounds, the duo has proven that they can change sounds and continue to entice. We already trust that their fifth album will intrigue in equal measure, no matter what its style. (Richard Allen)
MUSIC WON'T SAVE YOU:
Quarta tappa della consolidata collaborazione tra Michel Banabila e Rutger Zuydervelt, “Macrocosms” non smentisce l’attitudine del duo a ricombinare in maniera incessante gli elementi della propria musica. Seguendo un itinerario sostanzialmente diverso rispetto a quello delle allucinate visioni orchestrali del precedente “Error Log” (2015), le nove tracce del nuovo lavoro oscillano tra intricati incastri ritmici e dense frequenze in progressiva trasformazione.
Elementi concreti e di sintesi convivono in “Macrocosms”, al pari della dimensione minimale propria dei due artisti e della loro velleità di creare universi sonori, come da titolo, estremamente estesi. Da tale combinazione risulta un dialogo a tratti difficile tra prominenti vibrazioni di oggetti e macchinari (l’aspetto “macro”) e minuti crepiti elettronici (il “micro”), il cui pulviscolo soverchia gradualmente quasi ogni altro elemento.
Così, mentre la parte iniziale del lavoro è tutta un susseguirsi di pulsazioni sintetiche e sincopi di moderato rumorismo, quella finale ripiega su quella concezione di ambience poco più che silente alternamente costeggiata nel corso degli anni da parte di entrambi gli artisti. In questo senso “Macrocosms” rispecchia in maniera esaustiva il robusto impianto concettuale sottostante alle rispettive ricerche, riassunto nella creazione di un ambiente sonoro al tempo stesso puntuale e in continua espansione verso orizzonti infiniti. (Rafaello Russo)
Rutger Zuydervelt is het brein achter Machinefabriek en doet niet aan instant bevrediging. Liever puzzelt hij eindeloos met organische klanklandschappen en stukgeslagen arpeggio’s, maar vrijwel zonder uitzondering bouwt hij er iets volkomen uniek en tijdloos mee. Drie keer eerder dook Zuydervelt met zijn Rotterdamse stadsgenoot Michel Banabila de studio in en ook op Macrocosms is het resultaat verbluffend. Experimentele elektronica wordt afgewisseld met elastische pianocomposities en abstracte ambient gaat hand-in-hand met metaalachtige elektronische hiphop en klassieke contrabassen. Buitencategorie.
Today we are in Rotterdam where two sound scientists are going to show us the world from a wider perspective. In case you thought you had any significance or what you’re worrying about matters, we’ll look at what a meaningless speck you are in space and time. But it won’t be grim, it will be lush and amazing. The title track has a repeated narration that pulls back from the earth watching our activity upon its surface turn to pattern and fade out, the cover is an extreme close up on the face of a bug. Micro and Macro worlds are the overarching ideas at work here. While treating instrumental music as a soundtrack to something is a lazy and exhausted idea you can imagine this working remarkable effectively over incredible footage of bugs and forests and weather systems and such. It would probably be selling it a little short though because there’s enough texture, detail and finely tuned sound here to occupy your mind and stimulate your imagination without the need of lush images. A meticulous blend of field recordings, electronics and ‘real’ instruments it creates a wonderful set of atmospheres that are as much sound design as composition. Inkeeping with the projects concept the more you pay attention the more you notice the incredible range of sounds subtly woven into it, layer upon layer. Couple of glasses of wine, put this on your headphones, see yourself as a tiny bug in a vast and teeming universe, wonder at it, let go your ego – that kind of thing.