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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

GERT BLOKZIJL: Interaction (2015)

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

Interaction is a solid album which has easily its place between Mirage and The Dark Side of the Moog IX

1 Interaction I 17:24

2 Interaction II 52:34

(DDL 69:58) (V.F.)

(Minimalist Berlin School)

What is a classic album? I would say that it's an album that leaves resolutely its imprints, its influences on time and as well as on several artists who continue to get soaked by it many years later. Mirage by Klaus Schulze! Its long minimalist movement which carries some nice dreamy electronic harmonies on a structure with subtle permutations is this kind of album. And it's the main essence of the charms of this last Gert Blokzijl's album. Dutch self-taught synthesist who discovered the numerous possibilities of the minimalist electronic music, as soon as 4 years old, after having made the discovery of a broken harmonium in a family barn. Since then, he has never stop developing an EM inspired by the visual art; movies, photos and paintings. From the 90's to nowadays, Gert Blokzijl has composed and produced more than 20 albums which now get accumulate on the download platforms since 2011. His style hangs onto the influences of Berlin School with the points of reference for Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. While for the moments of atmospheres, his influences go from Steve Roach to Biosphere. Klaus Schulze and Biosphere are in the heart of INTERACTION; a superb album which simplifies extremely the minimalist movement and where the photo of Newton's cradle on the artwork explains itself the content of this enchanting sequenced music.

A sibylline breeze, painted of delicate ringings, of cracklings and amplified by muffled implosions, is floating over the first two minutes of Interaction I. A first line of sequences emerges from this short and nebulous astral phase. The keys are crystal-clear. They skip and push themselves in the back, winding in single file a minimalist path which draws a slender spherical movement. A delicate bass line is pulsing in the background. Its pulse adds another parallel rhythmic schema which reminds a movement of Tubular Bells. Other sequences get in. This time the keys are flickering such as some Will-o'-the-wisp which are trapped in the eye of a tornado. The bass accelerates the pace and the shadows of the Will-o'-the-wisp get excited just as much. Magnetizing, the simplistic and very charming movement of Interaction I wraps itself of heavy and rippling synth layers filled by aromas of old organ which draws vampiric harmonies as much frightening as attractive. The charms of these harmonies float at countercurrent over the movement while the percussions which fall are just adding a little more velocity to Interaction I which continues its minimalist gyrating ballet until sequences are getting short of breath and until the movement takes refuge with the atmospheres of its intro. Five minutes of ambience for twelve minutes of ambient and minimalist rhythms; Interaction I is the kind of thing to which we stick instantly and which obsesses the senses. It's also a similar pattern for Interaction II which offers 4 superb phases of rhythm bogged down in dense sonic magmas and the somber atmospheres a la Biosphere.

The whole thing begins with a line of bass which pounds slyly, scattering its pulsations which draw an imperfect but obsessive ascending movement. Sequences ring all around the movement. They sparkle and flicker while the 1st phase of Interaction II gets expanding. But it's all remain static. If the keys make harmonious cabrioles by drawing rotary figures a bit jerky, the movement stays peaceful. It's like to hear a thick cloud of rubber balls to sparkle in a too small jar. Lines of synth release some furtive melodies which have difficulty to nest. They remind me of Klaus Schulze's with tones filled by a soft Arabian perfume. Little by little, this 1st phase sees itself be buried by heavy buzzing lines and hollow breezes which furnish the atmospheres for a short 3 minutes. We hear bangings and ringings there, amplifying a feeling of anxiety, claustrophobia which glides everywhere around the lifeless phases of INTERACTION. If the first movement drew the path of the curiosity, the one which emerges near the 17th minute brings us straight away in the best moments of the union Klaus Schulze and Pete Namlook in the The Dark Side of the Moog IX. The rhythm is slow. It's quavering with a drum of which the knocks get reverberating in an echo painted of ghostly breaths and jingles. The movement is hypnotic and drags us on a soft soporific slope where the minimalist art shows an absolutely intrusive sonic ornament. It's not too long, nor too short. It's a beautiful 7 minutes phase where Gert Blokzijl leads us near the audiophile slavery. A violent storm of winds, of wiishh and of whoosh comes down on our ears at the 25th minute spot. We have the longest ambient passage of the album here. Winds roar and squeak with tones sometimes hollow and sometimes acute and with tints occasionally dark and other times translucent over a long period of 8 minutes before that a structure of rhythm a little more fluid than the phase 1 invades our senses. Livelier and more dynamic, even a little bit funky, the rhythm skips with a mixture of delicacy and hardness in the ringings of sequenced serpentines of which the glass tones scatter a bordering rhythm to the percussions and to bouncier organic cawings. It's little like a baby angel who would play the xylophone to calm a herd of toads and to tame the jumps of the grasshoppers in an arid area. And yes, we always have this feeling to hear the spectres of TDSOTM IX to roam around our ears. In any case, it gave me the taste to hear it. It's a lovely passage which goes beyond the 42 minutes spot, there were a seraphic choir and its sibylline singings are waiting for us. It's a short and a rather intense moment which precedes the last chapter of Interaction II and of its last delicate ambient rhythm. The sequences skip in the shadow of the last one, forging a superb harmonious serial movement which rolls in a loop by its echo. It's hypnotic and that invades both ears tightly tied to our earphones. This phase gets intensifying with jumps and more lively sequences as well as the percussions which guide them towards the singings of synths always a bit nasal, always a bit seraphic. Synth always so present but of which we forget so easily the role in all these charms of the sequences and the minimalist rhythms of which they have the plans. Sequences and rhythms which do not stop improving their fineries with an impressive mixture of nuances, both in tones and tints, and of their agile, almost dreamlike, jumps and cabrioles. Yes, my friends, INTERACTION is a solid album which has very well its place between Mirage and The Dark Side of the Moog IX without joining the reputations of these two little masterpieces. Is this what we call a must?

Sylvain Lupari (March 13th, 2015) *****

Available on Gert Blokzijl's Bandcamp

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