“This is a very good compilation, a very honest one which shows the various faces of René van der Wouden”
1 Prosa I 6:12 2 The Alchemists 10:28 3 Recreation III 9:42 4 Go Quiet 9:42 5 Sequential Tourism 16:06 6 Numerus Fixus Part VI (Extended version) 11:44 7 Gruga Platz IV 20:44 8 Kompass 6:04 9 Antartica Festivities 6:56 10 Panavision 7:26 11 Mosaic of Stars 7:02 12 Sketch Two 6:10 13 Red Moon passes the Earth 9:14
14 La Contradiction 6:56 15 Moon Movement 20:10
(DDL 154:36) (V.F.) (Mix of ambient and sequencer based EM)
It's been already 10 years since Rene van der Wouden satisfies our ears with a EM thought in the influences of Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis. Ten years for about 15 studio albums, between 2005 and 2015, and of which a too much majority have passed beneath radars. A first compilation appeared in 2011, Sequential Mixed Up-The Best of REWO, that the Dutch synthesist offered, and still offers by the way, for a small contribution on his Bandcamp site or simply for free. THE FIRST10 YEARS is a second compilation, also offered for a tiny contribution or totally free, which underlines those 10 years of REWO and which offers more than 2:30 hours of EM which oscillates between the phases of his influences. This compilation offers also over 40 minutes of unreleased material written during the sessions of his last studio album, BauRauM.
The main quality of this compilation is undoubtedly its selection. Contrary to several labels and/or artists which are going to favor a selection of catchy tracks, Rene van der Wouden offers rather a selection which is highly representative of his music. Of course, there are tracks that seduce instantly! I think of the floating rhythm of Prosa I and of its soft EM symbolic melody molded in the essences of Jarre. Recreation III is also a good piece of music with a jumpy structure of rhythm and with harmonic lines from a fluty synth. It's the kind of thing that will appeal to fans of Tangerine Dream's more contemporary era. Go Quiet is a lively cosmic rock. Numerus Fixus Part VI is unarguably the most known track of Rene van der Wouden's repertoire. And its extended version is always very appropriate. Kompass is another very catchy track with movements of intertwine lines of sequences. There are also long more complex titles that confirm this capacity of the Dutch artist to develop his rhythms, always very lively, in atmospheres of ether. And the melodies are always there. The Alchemists, Sequential Tourism, the very good Gruga Platz IV as well as Mosaic of Stars, this one I never heard before, are beautiful examples. Other tracks are simply between catchy anthems and complex phases, like Antartica Festivities and Panavision. This last one showing the ambient side of Rene van der Wouden.
In brief, it's a very honest glance over the career of the Dutch synth wizard. The new material starts with Sketch Two. We are in the BauRauM period. It's a very ambient track with a nice astral melody blown by chords which inhale the breaths of lyricism. I like that! It's very delicate and it's ideal to tame the insomnia, like The Contradiction which proposes on the other hand a more intense, a more dramatic environment that is constantly wrapped by sigh from Cosmos. Red Moon passes the Earth offers a nice sequenced melody which waves such as a sound snake through mists misty by metal and by electronic effects which are very near the repertoire of Vangelis. Moon Movement brings us towards a long, a more linear and a more convoluted movement with a concept of a sequence which skips in solo and whose variances in the tones and in the colors are pounding under a dense ambiocosmic coat. Sometimes the sequence unties some shadows to structure a short rhythmic storm which loses its breath rather quickly.
So, as I wrote higher, THE FIRST 10 YEARS is a solid good compilation. It's a very honest compilation which shows the various faces of Rene van der Wouden who, atmospheres or rhythms, always succeeds to create a little something which seduces. And often, they are melodies! And don't forget, it's free! But a small donation, however small it is, gives to all these artists the financial means to explore a little more the universe of EM and the uncountable possibilities of the instruments that forges it. Like in this THE FIRST 10 YEARS!
Sylvain Lupari (February 1st, 2016) *****
Available at René van der Wouden Bandcamp