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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

RENE VAN DER WOUDEN: Numerus Fixus (2009)

Updated: Oct 31, 2020

This is a real nice album which aims to be a continuity of the analog space music from JM Jarre without getting into some kind of banal copy

1 Fixus Part I 14:33 

2 Fixus Part II 10:24 

3 Fixus Part III 4:25 

4 Fixus Part IV 4:56

5 Fixus Part V 7:33

6 Fixus Part VI 8:27 

7 Fixus Part VII 4:18 

8 Fixus Part VIII 9:11

(CD-r/DDL 63:27) (V.F.)

(Sequencer based Cosmic Rock)

Mastered by Ron Boots, NUMEROUS FIXUS is the 8th opus by René Van Der Wouden. It has like backdrop, the fragility of ecosystems in an increasingly small world for endangered species. It's a good opus with a melancholic flavor very close to the Dutch synthesist who is strongly inspired by the universe of analog EM and more specifically EM made in France. Which gives a much more cosmic than terrestrial vision to music dedicated to the environment. Therefore, this album is balancing between two universes with a strong scent of Jean-Michel Jarre and where the cosmos expels its perfumes towards the Earth with a tonal contemporaneity that doesn't really match the theme of the work. If the first 3 parts form a moving symbiosis where the earth / space paradox is vibrant, the last 5 titles project us rather into a sound universe where René Van Der Wouden continues where the French synthesist has decided to stop his creative counter.

Fixus Part I opens NUMERUS FIXUS with fine arpeggios that carillon like strikes of xylophone in order to dance lazily on a movement of sequenced rhythm whose minimalism form takes the shape of an endless spiral. It's a galactic twist accompanied by wispy choirs that parade like a Halloween-like nursery rhyme where the roar of motorcycle explodes and gets lost in this crystal tone space. It's an intro full of paradoxes and quite heterogeneous on which is added the weight of a good bass line that rocks the movement of the same minimalism similarity and where the synth solos breathe a more spectral than cosmic approach. The fact remains that Fixus Part I is closer to Cosmos than Earth with its slow-blowing violins from a mellotron. The violins' lines crisscross sequences of which the twisted impulses are harpooned by drums and are painted by variegated sound effects that bring the title to another level of intensity without deviating Fixus Part I from its oblong ethereal nursery rhyme. Electronic sounds with the fragrances of analog years often water the works of René van der Wouden and NUMERUS FIXUS is full of them. Fixus Part II is bathed in these tones with a rain of sonic constellations that sweeps under powerful cosmic waves before a heavy oscillating, and sometimes resonant, sequence animates a tempo which beats through a panoply of sound particles. Gently the rhythm is detached from its lunar approach to embrace a more terrestrial structure under the breaths of a mellotron which always hesitates between both universes. A mellotron which harmonizes more fluty tunes while Fixus Part II strangely flirts with the shimmering arpeggios of the introductory part. Still in the register of crystalline arpeggios with sweet musical orations, Fixus Part III is simply magnificent. An oneiric sweetness that sings life and hope, like the ticktack of a timeless watch, to embrace a musicality so warm and so poetic that it's a shame it has to end.

Fixus Part IV brings us back to the rhythmic territories of Space Art with its fiery tempo captured by a synth with interlaced solos, while Fixus Part V is of an extremely well-structured galactic heaviness. It's a kind of cross between Magnetic Fields by JMJ and the electronic post punk from Daft Punk with a heavy and lively tempo whose nasal synth offers nice symphonic impulses. Just like Part VI incidentally which has a great atmospheric intro and a clearly more elaborate humming rhythm. Fixus Part VII is like the Oxygene era of the French synth-wizard with a good ambient and cosmic structure which is endowed with a dramatic approach of rare intensity. Fixus Part VIII ends the album in a more captivating way. It's a heavy track surrounded by round and fatty sequences which parade under the ethereal caresses of a nice mellotron whose fluty breaths float on arpeggios with tones of xylophones dancing in the shadows of carnival percussions.

Without appearing in the 2009 Top 10, NUMERUS FIXUS is not far from it. It’s a good album which aims to be a continuation of Jarre's analog years without going into banal plagiarism. There are great passages on this album that we listen to from start to end without having a second of boredom. Nice work from René Van Der Wouden who never ceases to amaze and progress. The fact is that he is to Jean-Michel Jarre what Redshift, Arc and Free System Projekt are to Tangerine Dream; the reflection of an era sealed in time with a superb blend of creativity and originality. Fans of Jarre and Vangelis, NUMERUS FIXUS, and the vast majority of René Van Der Wouden's albums by the way, are true values.

Sylvain Lupari (February 13th, 2009) ***½**

Available at REWO Bandcamp

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