Boomkat Product Review:
Modular synth maestro Thoams Ankersmit pays tribute to Dick Raaijmakers’ pioneering work with a visceral study in electronic music as weather systems, replete with uncanny otoacoustic phenomena - recommended for speakers, rather than headphones, where it can get a bit too intense
“Thomas Ankersmit’s new album for Shelter Press “Homage to Dick Raaijmakers” is an all-analogue electronic music composition inspired by legendary Dutch composer / electronic and tape music pioneer / multimedia artist Dick Raaijmakers (1930-2013). The work takes inspiration from Raaijmakers’ music from the 1960s, his texts on sound composition like “Cahier M”, and notes on his own music. On this recording Ankersmit plays Serge Modular feedback and sine/pulse/random generators, contact mic, and tape speed variation.
Mirroring some of Raaijmakers’ work, Ankersmit plays his Serge synthesizer as a kind of weather system. He references storms, thunder, crashing and falling objects, and distant radio transmissions in his electronic sounds, as well as dragging a contact mic across his equipment. Despite the abstract nature of the material, a sense of loss or mourning sometimes emerges from the music.
With his homage Ankersmit re-contextualizes Raaijmakers’ ideas about electric sound, composition, and spatial experience. Like Raaijmakers himself Ankersmit exclusively uses analogue devices, such as sine/pulse/random generators, modulators, filters, and especially feedback processes between them.
The music focuses on the sounds of raw electricity through creatively abused electronics, composing with analogue micro-sounds, and the creation of three-dimensional sound fields.
The piece also uses tones produced by the listener’s own ears, inspired by Raaijmakers’ thoughts on “holophonic” sound fields to be individually explored by the listener. With this phenomenon, the listener’s inner ears actively generate sounds that don’t exist in the recorded signal, and which can change with a small movement of the head.
“Homage to Dick Raaijmakers” was commissioned by Sonic Acts and was premiered live at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in February 2016. Ankersmit also dedicates the work to his father Thijl Ankersmit (1947-2016), who first demonstrated feedback to him.”