RON BOOTS & SYNTH.NL: BorkHavn (2020)
Updated: Mar 3
“A splendid album of a cinematographic EM flirting between the universe of Vikings and that of the romance of Arab evenings”
1 BorkHavn 5:12
2 Morgenfrisk 7:51
3 Nordsøen 8:20
4 Stjernekiggeri 5:49
5 Torden 4:31
6 Gåpåmod 6:17
7 Hjortebøf 10:03
8 Vindmøller 7:19
9 Venskab 5:38
(CD/DDL 61:14) (V.F.)
(Tribal, World Music, EM)
I concluded my column on Refuge en Verre in 2011 with; a beautiful album, very melodious and full of charm that can be listened to like if to take the time to live. Ten years later, and around the same date, BORK HAVN flees with the palm of one of the most beautiful albums of 2020. Melodious and melancholy with its full of Middle East's beats, this latest album from the Ron Boots & Synth.nl duo is that kind of album that we have never seen coming and where the potential of EM is nailed in a splendid cinematographic ambience. Bork Havn is a town in Denmark where the Boots and van Osenbruggen families spent a week's vacation in the summer of 2012. The days were spent with the family visiting Bork Havn and the surrounding areas, while the evenings, some longer than others, were privileged moments when the two friends discussed things and others which were reflected in sessions of improvisations. Eight years distance these evenings and the final mastering which gives an astonishing album of tribal music from the Middle East with breathtaking orchestrations and arrangements.
It starts with the title-track of this album which is offered as a manufactured CD and for download on Groove nl website and on Groove Bandcamp. What amazes is the precision of the chords of acoustic instruments such as guitars and bass. These are also acoustic six-string chords that reveal Bork Havn to our ears. They are pensive and their vibration is picked up by a soft synthesized voice and long laments of violins drifting in this small room set up as a studio in Bork Havn. Hybrid, these chords are mixed with those of a piano which remains well behind this tonal scene. The flow is as slow as the loving reading of a poem. The sounds! We must discover them. Like here, while organic grumbling clings to the vibrations of the chords. More nourished, the music flows like a lascivious dance when the percussions inject as much vitality as rhythm to this title which favors a duel between the guitar and the unreal voice of an Elven princess, thus testifying its attraction for an envelope more acoustic than electronic. This backbone of Bork Havn will remain the cornerstone of BORK HAVN, the album. The titles and history of the city of Bork Havn seem to be linked to the famous Viking warriors, hence this acoustic influence on its first titles. Morgenfrisk comes with a slightly more electric vision and in a coating of sensuality with its heavy and slow rhythm. The acoustic tone shines with its chords clearly plucked by senseless fingers, while the percussions make this pagan dance tremble with so much heaviness and impact that it's almost impossible that no drummer is identified in the album. Although frank and incisive, Morgenfrisk's slow rhythm travels over superb Arabic arrangements. A title that has the nobility of Led Zeppelin in Kashmir! With a little more drive based on the Morgenfrisk finale, Nordsøen offers a structure of hymn to war. The Gypsy rhythm is split by a stationary approach and its opposite with this push of warriors on a battlefield, defying death as much as logic, with lively movements in staccatos. The orchestral arrangements are imagined in a cinematographic vision where one can easily imagine a battle between Vikings. The percussions firmly fix this rhythm while the synths of Ron and Michel van Osenbruggen launch solos with variegated effects attached to their melodious threads. These first 3 titles of BORK HAVN followed one another with a vision of intensity which reached a small zenith with Nordsøen.
Stjernekiggeri brings us back to Arabian ballad mode. The duo goes there with incredible delicacy on this ballad guided by an acoustic guitar and bordered by percussions with brief sequenced rolls. It's like being in the New Age universe of Windham Hill. And it's not these bass bites, very beautiful by the way, scented of Patrick O'Hearn moves, that will contradict my last words. A beautiful title whose harmonies are sealed in this appearance of a romantic acoustic guitar playing in its electronic corridors. The duo choses to stay in poetry and romance with Torden, a title composed on a piano and dominated by its beautiful playing on a stormy evening. Magnificent! Gåpåmod takes us towards the bucolic tribal panoramas of the nomads of the desert. A beautiful flute makes its phantom orations dance to a rhythm woven in electronic discretion, just so as not to be too ambient while keeping a nice balance with a latent intensity over the 6 minutes of Gåpåmod. The percussions, and the percussive effects, under a threatening sky become as beautiful as this essential flute. The Hjortebøf trap opens with a curtain of voices making tinkle a fascinating guitar on a background of empty bottles which get colliding. A short introduction to present electronics versus acoustics in a very good title where the rhythms have border only the essence and not the music, nor its instruments. The sitar spreads the veil of a Middle East melody crudely plucked over a bed of empty bottles well aligned and with holes, structuring percussive and flute effects, and ramparts forged in continuous strobe impulses. The bass line structures these spasmodic impulses which give a ferocious allure to this rhythm adorned with good percussive effects and which would not exist without the immense possibilities of EM. And for those who are interested, there is a subtle nod to the music of the westerns of the tandem Sergio Leone-Ennio Morricone. A superb track where the percussions resonate as much as the rhythms of the sitar. A weeping violin stretches its tears in the opening of Vindmøller's mortuary murmurs and hums. A dull knock resonates around 2 minutes. The clicks of the cymbals start to flutter, joined later by bass sequences and others more limpid which flutter in an electronica rock which starts to run, after having defied the orchestrations, when pricked by a line of bass-sequences with impulses hungrier than orchestral impulses. These two solid tracks bring us to Venskab, an ambient track dominated by a keyboard in Rick Wright mode and whose nostalgic harmonies melt on a bed of sequenced arpeggios hopping like porcelain earthworms in an electric field.
A splendid album of a cinematographic EM flirting between the universe of Vikings and that of the romance of Arab evenings, BORK HAVN is miles away from Refuge en Verre. It's a daring, in terms of arrangements, and creative albums with music and especially its unusual sounds from the Ron Boots & Synth.nl register. The daring, the dreamers as well as the fans of sounds and those of Berlin School will find their share in this album which is undoubtedly the most beautiful at the level of melodious EM in 2020.
Sylvain Lupari (March 2nd, 2021) ****¾*
Available at Groove NL