BOOTS & WHITLAND: Three Day Week (2019)
Updated: Feb 21
“Big jewels on this Three Day Week which is all about sequencing…and sequencing patterns...and excellent drumming”
1 Fish 34:01
2 Alpaca 9:10
3 Eagle 29:20
(CD/DDL 72:30) (V.F.)
(Improvised Berlin School)
Take two musicians! Two veterans with opposing visions and lock them in a room heated by sequencers and synthesizers with the challenge of creating rhythms without synth solos, not even Stephan Whitlan's, and you'll get an album like THREE DAY WEEK. The connection between the ideas of Ron Boots and Stephan Whitlan has been proven with Substitutes. The two musicians, backed up by Harald Van der Heijden on drums, had been filling an hour for a crowd in waiting for the main act with improvised music at the E-Day 2018. Whence Substitutes which had been very well received by Ron Boots' fans, those of the Groove label and the specialized press in EM. And it's precisely after this last E-Day 2019 festival that the two musicians decided to revive their ideas in another context of pure improvisation. This time, Boots & Whitland will be focus on the sequencer aspect. And it's the fruit of these improvisation sessions that guided the making of THREE DAY WEEK. Both musicians judged these parts interesting enough to be offered to fans of the Berlin School model with Dutch and England visions. The other parts, including the drums always performed by Harald Van der Heijden, were added to finalize an album made in relaxation but with the idea of exploding our speakers.
Fish starts in sweetness. Synth shadows draw arches that float in the dark, causing particles to crumble and leaving their footprints slowly evaporate. Tinted by mysticism, the mood begins to breathe after the door of 5 minutes. A pulsation makes tinkle its resonances which multiply in secret to initiate a rhythmic lift that will siege for the next 27 minutes. Moiré arpeggios and discrete sequences, flowing like suspended rivulets, are at the origin of this structure, which is silently wrapped in layers of mist and by voices of an absent choir. Tactilely exploiting Fish's minimalist approach, the Boots & Whitland duo adds rhythmic particles that give the sound weight to this long title designed to receive a large inventory of sequences and percussive elements. Among the dancing arpeggios, some have a more harmonious level and trace these evasive melodies that adorn so well these structures set with magnetizing loops. Fish progresses in this setting where percussion, frolicking like a core of dragonflies frozen in time, add to the charms of this rhythmic boom which grips its atmospheres. Without exploding, but constantly accumulating a vigor that will remain contained in its space-time, the passive rhythm of Fish brings us to a final that gets emptied of its percussive elements. And in the end, Fish is 34 minutes of a latent rhythm growing in volume and intensity in a tubular plexiglass corridor that is gradually widening from the inside. A bit long, but the intensity in it makes it pass rather quickly.
My favorite is this ode to the serenity of space that is Alpaca. The movement is celestial with 4 chords that walk quietly on the edge of a cosmic ocean, with as a traveling companion a bass line less docile to the idea of walking 9 minutes. These arpeggios gather in places to blow us a nice melody that gave me the shivers at times. Especially with these synth shadows that are like maternal caresses. More hypnotic than minimalist, this astral procession is adorned with ether vapors, as well as whispers and noises camouflaged by distance. I loved it. This goes in my iPod, section; minutes to daydream and fall asleep! I always thought of being in Alpaca's beach when the moods of Eagle get to my ears. Its introduction is multicoloured of sonorous textures that come and go on an oblong circular movement of the sequencer. Acid winds, lamentations of sounds and twisted reverberations pour into this opening that has already exhausted 11 minutes in ambiosonic and ambiospheric elements when finally, Harald Van der Heijden comes to lend his hands to two sequencers awakening. Eagle gets flying! Its rhythm is lively, because of the drums, and spasmodic, because of the sequencers. It's especially inviting with an acoustic-electronic mesh whose only winner are my ears. In fact, it lacks only synth solos to make it all perfect. What was not planned in this THREE DAY WEEK focused on sequencers and their dimensions that are not always rhythmic.
Despite some lengths, this latest album of Ron Boots and Stephan Whitlan has all the assets in needed to please fans of EM. There are three different structures that each have their own charms; minimalist, melodious and ambient rhythms as well as quite lively with an Eagle that breaks the house. I enjoyed its discovery a little more with my headphones, although the mastering allows listening it on speakers, and it filled my listening room with power and precision. A very nice achievement from Groove nl.
Sylvain Lupari (October 19th, 2019) ***½**
Available at Groove nl.