Circles, Reeds, and Memories brings together three Dutch contemporary composers-performers Reinier van Houdt, Germaine Sijstermans, and Koen Nutters, who have each released their own work on the elsewhere label in recent years, were interested in each other’s work but never performed together before as a trio. Nutters, who has collaborated in the past with both van Houdt (Cornelius Cardew project) and Sijstermans (DNK Ensemble, The Names), conceived the idea of a trio performance with the two musicians, which later developed into this three-way collaborative project.
The album features three compositions, recorded for the first time together, live in the intimate space of a small church, Savelberg Chapel in Heerlen, Limburg in the Netherlands in December 2021 before an attentive audience. The three musicians played these three compositions, one by each composer, and all clocked for about twenty minutes, stressing the seminal influence of the Wandelweiser-related reductionist composers. These compositions offer rich instrumentation including clarinets, Indian harmonium, harmona organ, voices, field recordings, sine tones, objects, and tapes that added to the three compositions rich, complex layers of sound and profundity, enveloping the audience in a vibrant yet contemplative space.
«Linden» (2020) by Sijstermans opens this performance. This is a delicate ethereal and lyrical, acoustic soundscape that blurs the sense of time but develops with its own kind of organic unpredictability and a natural balance between these distinct musicians. «A Piece with Memories» (2017) by Nutters was written for a «flexible number of musicians and instruments. The musicians play through a number of pitch constellations while retrieving memories about a specific time, place, or person of their individual choosing». Nutters employs sine waves and field recordings in addition to the organ to deepen the ethereal atmosphere and static time feeling and the music to a more otherworldly, dreamy state of mind. The last composition «Harmonic Circles» (2022) by van Houdt is a trio version of his 2020 solo piece «skies waves trails», written during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and originally from his album drift nowhere past (elsewhere, 2020). This darker and sometimes even unsettling composition emphasizes van Houdt’s attitude of subverting the hierarchy of composer-score-musician-listener into a field where these positions in some ways are interchangeable and suggests another distinct, impressive and profound perspective of the elusive sense of time.
Germaine Sijstermans (cl, bcl, v), Koen Nutters (harmona organ, v, objects, sine tones, field rec), Reinier van Houdt (Indian harmonium, v, pre-recorded organs, tapes)