Aart Strootman

Triple Album Review in Gonzo Circus


In the online magazine Gonzo Circus, music journalist René van Peer wrote an enthusiastic review about the last three albums on Alaska Records:

With the World Minimal Music Festival just around the corner, it is not a bad idea to listen to three CDs that have recently been released on the Alaska Records label of Anthony Fiumara. As a composer, that genre is an important source of inspiration. On the label he releases music that is played by kindred spirits, partly pieces that he himself has written. For example, "Grids" consists of four works by Fiumara, performed by guitarist Aart Strootman. Strootman has again provided songs for the cd "Whoever You Are Come Forth" by saxophonist Tom Sanderman and the cd "An Index Of Wood" by marimba player Ramon Lormans.

What these three CDs have in common is the undisputed mastery of the musicians. "Grids" is the most varied in terms of sound. With his electric guitar, Strootman simply has an awe-inspiring wide spectrum of sounds at his disposal. With extreme precision, he plays patterns that overlap and can thus lead to complex stacks. These can be intertwined melodies, but also changing chords that seem to bounce back and forth like the "Bells" from the title, and gradually develop into a festive urban landscape. The closing "Feathered River" is reminiscent of the song "Scarborough Fair", has the same openness and apparent naivety.

Tom Sanderman is not inferior to Strootman in terms of control. His cd opens with the title track, written by Kate Moore. It is a lyrical, poetic melody played without frills, but with a strong sense of the coloring and expressiveness of the tenor. In the subsequent "Redshift" of Fiumara he takes the soprano and a walking station. Although the love of Fiumara and Sanderman for minimal music is unmistakable, the composer shows that he knows how to give his style a twist. There are patterns and repetitions, but due to the alternation of the chords at different heights get a new effect.

Aart Strootman put the saxophonist in a floating task in "Floating Points On A Fixed Monorail" by having him play small deviations from the normal tones with alternative fingerings. The solo melody gets a whole drag behind by the use of a delay.

Ramon Lormans has a harder time because there is little variation in coloring with the marimba, no matter how nice and warm the instrument sounds. You get a thick scarf wrapped around your ears for 45 minutes. It was a good idea to record a song with the voice of Anja Plaschg aka Soap & Skin. That adds a nice new dimension, but would have been better suited as a watershed in the middle of the CD.