Sima Kim & Wouter Van Veldhoven – Sketches

“Sketches” is a split cassette between two minimalist composers Sima Kim & Wouter Van Veldhoven. Both artists focus on creating minimalist music, and this release contains a series of sketches by each, a collection of experimental pieces and unfinished ideas –  it’s the musical equivalent of an artist’s sketchbook.

Sima Kim’s side has ten short pieces of lush ambient music, beautiful and dreamy, with soft warm textures of synth being imbued with subtle hues of melody, the pieces amble along nicely, creating a relaxing atmosphere. With each one being so short, averaging at around 2 minutes,a lot of them seeming unfinished and end rather abruptly, but being beautiful at the same time, and with ten sketches there is room for variation and a large expression of ideas, . Sketch 7 is particularly interesting, with repetitive pulses in the foreground, while a great synth melody gradually builds up in the background, and those soft piano melodies of sketch 9 are really beautiful and are sure to bring a smile to the listener’s lips. While varied and short, there is a certain cohesion throughout these ten tracks,and Sima Kim’s side of the album is a really lovely ambient affair, it definitely leaves the listener wanting more.

Wouter Van Veldhoven’s side is really much more experimental. Containing different pieces spanning a period between 2002 and 2012, this side doesn’t have the cohesion of Sima Kim’s ambient offering, and instead gives us a series of different experiments with tape manipulations and various instruments. It’s more of a true sketchbook – while Kim’s work felt somewhat finished, this side really gives us a glimpse at the midway point of the creative process, when the artist is perhaps in his most adventurous and thoughtful state of mind regarding his works. Perhaps taking it’s cues from the style of Musique Concrete, his piece “Sketch 11, 2004” is made up of different noises –  clicks, bells and scrapes, and while they may not be particularly musical in and of themselves, he creates an interesting melody out of them, while “Fluister Sketch 04-2012” has the recording of a beautifully played string instrument, with a haunting and mournful atmosphere. With a rather self-abasing title “Sketch / First Failure A-E 10-2008” is the longest piece given here across either side at eight minutes in length. With tape manipulations and haunting strings, the atmosphere is one of complete depression, there’s an air of abject melancholy here rarely heard in anything quite so experimental. It isn’t a failure in any sense, and with it’s length it’s the most well thought out piece on either side of the release. Overall Wouter Van Veldhoven’s side is fantastically experimental, eccentric and interesting.

It’s certainly an interesting release, and one which offers an insight into the creative minds of each of the composers, and how they go about making experimental and minimalist music. I haven’t heard anything by either of these two artists before, but if these are just their unfinished sketches and they sound this good, then the finished compositions by both are sure to be fantastic.  Despite just being a collection of different ideas, this isn’t one to pass over by any means whatsoever.

Sketch 9 by Sima Kim:

Sketch, 11-2004 by Wouter Van Veldhoven:

Sketches will be released on Umor Rex Records on the 25th February 2014.

Cassette available through Thrill Jockey (USA) or ANOST (Europe).

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