HV025 Equal Stones - Transgression
"Transgression" is a third release on Hidden Vibes by Amandus Schaap, an ambient producer from the Netherlands also active on the Myosotis project.
When Amandus put together the setlist to this release he had a lot of tracks already finished, laying about. He decided to go with a drone theme this time around. The tracks on Transgression are mainly built up from multilayered synths accompinied with a lot of microsounds, statics, vinyl sampling, scrapes and minimal guitar textures, alot of these slightly hidden in the high register. There are some vocal patterns holding the melody in place, but most of the experience is built upon textures.
The idea for the title of the third track, Reject All You Have Learned, comes from a quote of one of musician's favorite philisophers Emil M. Cioran. "Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, chaos is being yourself." This track is a lenghty experiment in which Amandus tries to give form to the chaos he experiences in life.
This album really shines when you take off your headphones and listen to the tracks on a well equipped stereo setup.
The vinyl version of Transgression comes on virgin 180 grams vinyl, and comes in a gatefold sleeve with beautiful artwork designed and produced by Tessel Dekker.
Equal Stones on web:
"This auditory “Transgression” is the manifestation of the chaos within the life of composer Amandus Schaap. But this chaos is more of an awakening than a harsh anarchy. The music embraces the chaos, as a rejection of everything he has come to know as truth. This theme is conveyed very well in this album however, the sonic turmoil is countered and balanced by atmospheres of positivity and deep introspection." (c) Bryan Hilyard // Tone Harvest
Subtlety is always a key factor when composing drone music. Behind the soothing static, noise, and synths are dynamic waves of melodies, vocals, and other instruments to progress the music. If this album is about releasing chaos (or yourself), then the first track 'Set It Free' is an appropriate title. The song is heard through a clear film of static with overtones delicately pulsating into the mix. Halfway through the song a vocal track is present, providing the listener with a choir feel. After a soothing first track (I find ambiance and static to be a calming release), there is a more chaotic feel in 'We All Fall' It might be weird to put this into context, but the static and drones of this track are more spastic.Once the melody comes in however, it rides its stay for the rest of the track.
'Reject All You Have Learned' is possibly the most intimate and intricate track on here. On the left side of the audio mix is a pulsating release of static, while the other areas of the mix are growing in impact. Around the 4:00 minute mark the synths take over and let the soothing begin. Throughout there are different pitches of drones serving as an umbrella. Even the crackling static in the background adds to the atmosphere. Around the 9:00 mark another shift in the music takes place. From this point on the main focus of the music is different swells and soft xylophone hits. The entire mood of the song switched. The theme is haunting. Even as the notes are ringing out, the vibrations of the notes (sounding like bells) can be heard.
'Death At Both Ends' is a perfect example of a way to use static to cause a panicking feel. The way the crackles bend and warp with the ghastly exhales being released in the background. The ringing noises circulating the mix help force the chaotic feel. This song closes the album well as it crackles away. Equal Stones definitely released a drone project that embraces chaos. (c) Sean Gonzalez // Music INRIhab
Underpinning the far reaching extended experimentalism lays an industrial heartland, which gives the material a fulcrum around which to pivot. Lengthy tracks draw the listener into the space as the compositions float slowly round the room in phrases of distortion. Not something to rush with a morning cup of coffee Equal Stones demands time of the audience.
The music progresses imperceptibly as the loops of sound slowly shift places in the sequence, giving the resulting output a mesmerizing resonance. Somewhat experimental in feel, due to the processes in creating the sounds, Equal Stones does not however leave the brain confused as the gentle progression allows the imagination plenty of time to come to terms with the resulting echoes and flickers. (c) Tim Whale // Emerging Indie Bands
Exploring the darker, less comforting side of experimental and ambient music, Schaap’s work with Transgression haunts and disconcerts (specifically haunting with the disembodied vocal sounds on the opening piece, “Set Free.”) It’s borderline abrasive at times, and once the pieces get going, the thick and claustrophobic atmosphere can be unrelenting.
The entire set is incredibly solid, and very well assembled, but it really hits its stride on the second piece, “We All Fall.” After slowly building up a wall of static, scratches, and what is described in the press release as “microsounds,” long stretches of mournful guitar drones and synth waves come cascading in. It’s one of the few moments on Transgression that captures how ambient music can both be incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking, while still managing to be rather unnerving.
On the multi-movement “Reject All You Have Learned,” oscillating layers of feedback give way to various blasts of shimmering, then later aggressive sounding static, before finally finishing out on a rather dreadful, ominous note in the final few minutes.
Transgression closes up with the incredibly jarring, cacophonic “Death at Both Ends;” seven minutes that juxtaposes a heavily processed and decaying drum loop, with layers and layers of droning and screeching feedback that only become louder and more prevalent over time, before it all slowly fades into the distance, becoming a memory you are unable to shake. (c) Kevin Krein // Anhedonic Headphones
"When marine transgressions flood the land, shorelines retreat to higher ground. Leave behind the driftwood and look for a new vantage point, that’s what it says on the tin of Equal Stones’ Transgression.
Four drone pieces give a homeopathic push against equilibrium. Set Free circles an abyssal pit. Looming in without staring too much. Leaning over, not quite falling. Finally, descending.
On We All Fall, ancient horseshoe crabs invade the beach by night.
Reject All You Have Learned. Opens with longing horns, sirens tempting lost ships on strange new waters. As befits sirens, these ones turn nippy after a while. Morphs into eldritch territory.
Death At Both Ends. After the flood recedes: new debris exposed, stagnant melancholy, temporary sediment." (c) Thomas // Dead Eyes Water
I am pretty sure the majority of us will agree that over the last decade there has been a rising direction of real instruments in electronic music. Lucky as many of us have been, we’ve had the chance to be exposed to countless ambient / drone outfits. This particular type of music is generally backed-up by some major abstract sound, thus expressing a sense of darkness through multilayer sound manipulations and creativities.
To be noted… Most artists usually hit a creative wall when their movements are dragged to a long duration’s i.e. a 10 to 15 minute’s piece; most of the time at that point the music itself instantly reaches a pure ethereal climax. And that is simply proven by frequently monotonous or directionless that goes on and on for hours till our sense of hearing is compelled to abide and adapt by the drone(ss) of certain minimal noises.
Now this is where Equal Stones break through. In addition to the above statement “Transgression”, the third release of Equal Stones aka Amandus Schaap. Faithful to its title “Transgression”, Amandus has breached the traditional ambient ambiance with melodies and textures that moves aimlessly and idly without a fixed direction. Almost, as if you are left suspended above the earth and below the sky. Such melodies and such emptiness, pushed by soft electronic pitch and samples as well as the forces behind the music that holds the power to elevate one, “Transgression” will give you a brief snapshots of the sonic states in oblivion.
When everything around you starts to melt in ashes, when all purposes and significance feel forever out of reach, when noises are dimmed to silence, when a room of people feels like an utter solitude and when all your senses are sink in a melancholic feel, that is when you know the person behind the music has reached an exquisite creative wall. The end result of “Transgression” is darkness in an epic light through direct atmospheric sound that focusses more on memories and emotions as opposed of a specific direction type of sound. (c) Mog' // TheSirensSound
The difficulty with revision is that you get so embroiled with stuffing endless pieces of information back into your head that you sort of lose perspective on real world things and start seeing meaningless things in innocuous places; “transgression”, in the case of Equal Stones’s new LP, I’m almost certain does not refer to a rise in sea level relative to land because that would make no sense. Rather it makes use of the word in a much older and meaner context, one that embraces defiance and disobedience and that comes through strongly in the abrasive music contained within.
The earliest moments of opener “Set Free” are genteel and almost soft as warm drones melt by and cyclical glitch ticks away gently in the backfield; time flowing consistently and we being aware of its ebb. It cant remain in this blissfully unaware, even naive, form for long however as it begins to fight back; thicker drone currents begin to ooze luxuriously and cyclically into the mix and we’re introduced to a character that begins to feel this cage and oppression, slowly mounting through the gently creeping crescendo of texture and intruding vocal moans. Unfortunately it peaks somewhere about 5 or 6 minutes in and then seems to remain content to sit in place for the remaining half, which is vaguely disappointing since one would expect something wholly more cathartic and satisfying to tie the piece together in its closing moments but there is only an inconclusive sensation of something unfinished.
“We All Fall” does something wholly similar to its predecessor as it introduces itself on a wash of distant drone and static, like a bleary television screen stuck between channels, hovering in limbo before some sense of purpose and direction is appropriated to it from some outside presence. And there is a disorientating feeling of weightlessness here, that sickening sensation of motion in your stomach following a plunge and a certain blinding panic as we go down, out of control and unable to make sense of our spinning, twisting surroundings that looked so steady and stable mere moments before. And so it goes, this terrifying instant of failure distilled and stretched out, time slowing down and prolonging the ordeal as we absorb the magnitude of our failure and resign ourselves to our swiftly oncoming fate. It fades away slowly as we’re not allowed to progress that far within the parameters of the sound but there’s a solid resignation still present.
So far there’s been a real sense of dangerous beauty coming through the music, almost a level of admiration, and that comes through even more strongly on the longest, 14 minute expanse of “Reject All You Have Learned”. Its span allows for an even more carefully plotted evolution that was not possible on the first two pieces as it revs itself up on soft and melancholic smeared vocal moans and shimmering, elongate synth drones. Its faux record player/lo-fi aesthetic also comes through with a sort of pseudo-organic cyclical glitching and clicking, turning over and over and keeping tab of time in the same way the opener did as the track unfolds. Its peak is brief despite its duration, culminating in a few moments of briefly aligning textural crescendo before becoming undone in tersely shifting, piercing synths in its closing few minutes.
Closer “Death At Both Ends” seems to embrace a certain long-form chaos that’s been slowly built up through the duration of this record, a head of steam atop this teetering pile of emotionally wrought drone. There’s more drive and more punch in the shortest track of the album as it runs itself down in double the time of the previous track. And there’s a real sense of rhythm and definable, oscillating motion here too, present as a tattered, stuttering mass of lurching electronica floating in a sea of whining and miserable drone before the whole entity just gives up the ghost and migrates back to darkness to draw the curtains on the album as a whole.
Whilst I appreciate the need for sparseness and minimalism, and see the necessity for the paucity of the evolution within each movement, it still doesn’t make the album any more compelling to me, emotionally or otherwise. I’ve listened to this a number of times now but there’s still some barrier to entry for me; there is an intimacy and there is a solid heap of introspection but it feels so distant and alienating, and the fact that every track has no conclusive finale and simply meanders to nothing is really disappointing. There’s not a whole lot of love from me here but the fugue it commands is worthy of a listen at least. (c) Chris // HearFeel
Свежий альбом нидерландского проекта Equal Stones открывает новый этап в жизни молодого украинского лейбла Hidden Vibes, ведь издан он на виниле. Учитывая более чем тяжелую ситуацию в стране, это действительно смелый шаг в развитии заведомо некоммерческого предприятия. Впрочем, выбор носителя принадлежит самому музыканту, видимо после двух цифровых изданий захотелось увидеть альбом, что называется, «во плоти». Для творчества Амандуса Шаапа в качестве носителя однозначно нужны либо пластинки, либо кассеты, ведь львиную долю звучания его музыка отдает шершавым, плотным текстурам. Медленно мутирующие гитарные и вокальные петли подвергаются эрозии ветра, песка и воды, что в результате создает музыку, напоминающую замысловатые детали рельефа. Выветренные скалы, изъеденные морем камни вдоль побережья, потреcкавшаяся соленая корка, белым ковром простирающаяся за горизонт... Несмотря на электроакустическую природу, музыка альбома звучит очень «натуралистично», так же близко к процессам идущим в наших телах. Потоки крови по капиллярам, движение воздуха в легких, ритм ходьбы и биение пульса в висках - каждая из четырех композиций с легкостью вписывается в этот ежедневный шум нашего тела, который мы вряд ли часто замечаем.
Шепот хаоса звучит над бездной, и она отвечает тихими звуками. Сначала их вибрация едва заметно переступает порог слышимости, но затем обрушивается волнами незаконченных (а может быть и не начатых) мелодий, отголосками разговоров и обрывками пульсаций, бывших некогда стройными и изящными. Наверное именно так бы звучала встреча космической пыли с солнечным ветром, и действительно так звучит наш ум изнутри - шум крови, сплетенный в электромагнитными импульсами чувств и восприятий. Сложно представить, как из этого узора вибраций может родиться мысль, которая в свою очередь породит миллиарды ответвлений и вариаций. Из простой пульсации тела рождается эмоция, классификация, музыка, поэзия, философия... Приглядываясь к иллюзорной простоте птичьего перышка можно обнаружить бесконечную сложность - таким же образом и музыка Амандуса обнаруживает глубины познания, в которые любой заинтересованный может погружаться практически бесконечно. Исследуя что либо не исследуем ли мы самих себя? Где провести грань между субъективным и объективным? Постмодернистская философия закрутила немало фракталов мысли вокруг этих простых вопросов, и название альбома явно намекает на то, что его автор и сам знаком с ее изысканиями не понаслышке. Трансгрессия за пределы возможна лишь тогда, когда предел выявлен, но что же делать, когда куда бы мы ни устремили свой взгляд, везде находим лишь бесконечность?
Возможно, долгое прослушивание дроун-эмбиента навсегда меняет восприятие, делая его особо чувствительным к категориям непознаваемого - бесконечность, вневременность, безграничность... После долгих путешествий в лабиринтах текстур и пульсаций, создаваемых этим альбомом, можно уверенно сказать лишь одно - такая музыка определенно стоит того, чтобы посвящать ей себя целиком, будь вы слушатель или музыкант. Полное погружение, непосредственное соучастие в процессе ее звучания - вот единственное, что требуется для путешествия по бесконечным граням соприкосновения мысли и хаоса. (c) Pied Paper
“Set Free”, the opening track, picks up about half way through, when a more determined fluttering joins the pulse and a hollow, two-note vocal pattern is introduced. It’s nothing dramatic, nor is it all that different to what comes before in the track, the change being done entirely seamlessly. But is enough to propel the music forwards, to give it a reason to cycle on for five more minutes, and reason enough to pay attention to Equal Stones for the forty-minutes-or-so of the album.
Schaaps’ influences are never far away. Imaginary Country-era Tim Hecker is a strong presence in the expansive, synthesised waves of “We all Fall”. The darker, more distorted moments recall Evan Caminiti (solo and with Barn Owl, although in fact some of the more ritualistic moments, like the knells at the end of “Reject All You Have Learned” are a little more Jon Porras). Mix that with some of the percussive sounds and there are hints of Aquarelle, particularly in the middle section of “Set Free”. The key thing is, though, that Transgression never feels plagiarised. If you’re going be influenced (and who isn’t?) it may as well be by the best, and Schaaps patches all of his reference points together into an engaging, enjoyable – if in no way original – genre piece.
That’s the best way to think of Transgression really. “Death at Both Ends”, the closing track, is the best on offer because it distils all the various elements of the music into a tighter, seven minute package. The opening even gets a little bit experimental (in the vein of The Haxan Cloak and others) with a swelling of crushed, industrialised drums. The following drone is more oppressive and insistent, allowing in little but a stretched background squeal and more industrial crackle.
Come at Transgression without any particular expectations, without putting any pressure on it to be ground-breaking, and it will reward you. It’s a genre piece that builds up a convincing individuality – even if it does that through piecing together a few personal favourites – and it’s a pleasing reminder that the tropes of ambient and drone music, pulled off with just a little bit of flair, can still actually be quite entertaining. (c) Matt Gilley // Fluid Radio
L’occasione è data dal terzo lavoro di Amandus Schaap sotto l’alias Equal Stones, che vede il produttore olandese espandere il suo ventaglio di texture chitarristiche, samples e microsuoni, a una materia densa e caotica, rispondente all’impostazione concettuale sottostante a “Transgression”, legata all’idea della trasformazione dei piani della comprensione attraverso la destrutturazione e la diversa ricombinazione degli elementi cognitivi.
Su questa linea si sviluppano le quattro lunghe tracce che compongono il lavoro, con la sola nenia vocale dai sotterranei dell’anima dell’iniziale “Set Free” a palesare un simulacro di pur spettrale umanità, ben presto sopraffatto da pesanti strati distorti e loop ritmici pesantemente processati. Via via che il corso dell’album procede, le stesse falde di feedback si increspano progressivamente, mantenendo estrema potenzialità trasformativa lungo il quasi quarto d’ora di “Reject All You Have Learned”, fino a sfociare in dissonanze di rumore filtrato nella conclusiva “Death At Both Ends”.
Al termine dell’ostico percorso dei quaranta minuti delle due facciate, resta comunque la sensazione di un suono granitico, pullulante l’inarrestabile dinamismo di una corrente elettrica che scorre tra energia statica e picchi di tensione. (c) Rffaello Russo // Music Won't Save You
This is a truly magnificent record from Equal Stones, aka Amandus Schaap from the Netherlands. Hidden Vibes makes note that Transgression has more of a “drone theme” than previous Equal Stones stuff, which I haven’t heard, so I can’t say if this is his usual sound or not, but I’m gonna guess this drone is somewhat new to him. But who fuckin cares because this record is the fucking best. This is a softly textured drone that’s gritty and looped, making heavy use of analog creek & crackle alongside echoing guitar, subtle synth, and ethereal nondescript vocals, wonderful waves of static that rise nice & high without being overwhelming and sit just below the threshold of euphoria, mysterious & hypnotic, like staring at the horizon through a thin fog over the ocean, seeing the occasional whitecap and floating debris, all shrouded in a soothing bittersweet bliss, dissolving your problems to their true objective state and letting that obsessive anxiety fall away. 100% awesome and you get the best of both worlds with options for limited gatefold vinyl and/or free* digital. You know what to do. (c) Justin Snow // Anti-Gravity Bunny
Transgression requires full volume. Equal Stones set up sounds that are enormous. Sprawling the sounds manage to convey a sense of place. Vocals float into the mix as yet another layer of sound. Multiple layers allow for the sound to obtain a level of thickness. At moments the sound threatens to swallow the listener whole. Giant in nature the songs also include a lot of environment noises allowing for a strange awe-like take on field recordings. Repetition gives the songs a sense of calm, a Zen that gives them their power.
Beginning on a quiet rock-infused note is “Set Free”. Vocals space out towards the end. Effects are minimal yet efficient: mind distortion, an off-kilter sense of rhythm, and the detailed elements of the static itself. “We All Fall” is the highlight of the collection. Near silence introduces the piece. For a while Equal Stones work purely in the almost quiet. Gradually the piece builds with vaguely industrial churning. The evolution transforms the piece into glorious shoegaze work with gentleness given muscle by deep bass rumblings. After the noise fades away the notes linger on for a bit longer showing Equal Stones has a true sense of form.
“Reject All You Have Learned” goes for a much larger static sound. The piece covers a great amount of territory and its movement is incredibly gradual. “Death At Both Ends” closes the album off with a great deal of mystery. Various percussive elements swim through the murky territory attempting to keep order and failing. Transgression is a beautiful blooming album. (c) Beach Sloth
Ukrywający się za projektem Equal Stones Amandus Schaap eksploruje mniej przystępną i nie zawszę komfortową dla Konsumenta muzyki sferę ambientu. Album zatytułowany "Transgression" brzmi jak poszukiwanie struktury i ładu w ambientowym chaosie.
Trzeba przyznać, że są to poszukiwania owocne. Amandus Schaap formuje bezkształtną, pozbawioną selektywności i precyzji dźwiękową magmę w sposób interesujący. Kompozycje pozbawione są wymuszonych dłużyzn, a ich statyczność, dziwna martwa akustyka nadają albumowi niepowtarzalnej atmosfery.
Choć użyte środki nie należą do innowacyjnych, holenderski kompozytor uzyskał bardzo ciekawy efekt. Przetworzone strzępy wokali tworzą np. magiczną mantrę w "Set Free", Natomiast mikrodźwięki i gitarowe drony potrafią ułożyć się w płynną quasi melodię ("We All Fall"). Album wieńczy połamany mikro rytmem utwór "Death at Both Ends"). Wraz z ostatnim dźwiękiem "Transgression" następuje próżnia, bez pogłosu z odrobiną wybrzmienia. To też fascynuje...
(c) BH, Only Good Music onlygoodmusic.pl/recenzje/equal-stones-transgression
released April 14, 2014