“Field Rituals” by Koen Holtkamp
The shimmering debut album from Mountains-man Koen Holtkamp.
’Field Rituals’ is the first solo album to come from Koen Holtkamp, an artist probably better known as one half of ambient duo Mountains. Based in Brooklyn, Koen created the album slowly and as a love letter of sorts, taking in delicate field recordings and using them like faded photos representing his distinct memories of the people and places he chanced upon. Some may have heard the incredible ‚Make Haste’ which appeared on limited edition vinyl earlier in the year, but this was only a taste of what Koen has to offer on ’Field Rituals’.
Taking cues from the classic ambience of Brian Eno and fusing it with the instrumental subtlety of Sweden’s Tape, Koen has come up with an aural book on his subject matter. Each track feels entwined in the next and feels like a part of something much bigger. Sure we’ve heard field recordings, synthesizers and guitars before but rarely have these instruments been injected with such a lightness of touch and with such a delicate open ear. Each listen reveals more, like peeling back layers of onion skin – take the album’s epic centrepiece ’Sky Flowers’ for example, which blends slow-moving synthesizers with good-natured environmental recordings and shimmering strings. The result is explosive somehow, with the grandeur more usually exploited by Arvo Part being framed with a distant electronic ambience.
The slow-burning pace is probably the single most important facet and reveals an artist at ease with his musical choices, something unusual in a genre brimming with young hopefuls. A good comparison might be Stars of the Lid, but Koen’s music is more organic and more humble somewhat than the ex-Texan duo. In the end we are just proud that Koen has allowed us a look into this most personal of works.