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Rene van der Wouden: Peaceful Electronics

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A relative newcomer to the international EM scene, Rene van der Wouden has attracted winning praise for his blend of ethereal ambience with compelling electronic compositions. Here are a batch of new releases by this synthesist based in the Netherlands.

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RENE VAN DER WOUDEN: Altostratus/Cirrostratus (double CD on Ambientlive Records)

This release from 2007 offers 122 minutes of inspired electronic music.

Mirroring the attributes of cloud formations, this music exudes a spontaneity coupled with a sense of awe--the type of wonder displayed by people who gaze at the sky and see more than textbook vapors. That sense of unbridled imagination is reflected in these songs; it is a sentiment easily communicated by the musician to the listener, one that will last for a long time after the discs have finished playing.

Airy tonalities flourish, spreading with a fluid expansion and manifesting as mesmerizing harmonies. These atmospheric currents serve as an excellent backdrop (or firmament) for the graceful stream of delicious tuneage crafted by van der Wouden.

Sparkling electronics are key to these recordings, characterizing the breezy chill of extreme elevation and the flowing textures of gaseous consistencies found at such dizzying heights. Breathy keyboards provide soft-spoken punctuation, while heavenly chords color the resonant sequences with a majestic grandeur.

For the most part, percussion is reasonably rare here, utilized infrequently to emphasize an instance amid the roiling flux of picturesque harmonics. In a few tracks, integral e-perc generates a mounting sense of accumulating drama as the listener hangs suspended at the core of an enormous mass of clouds.

These compositions capture the ebb and flow of vaporous formations traveling across the sky. Dreamy melodic hints have been injected into these drifting structures, duplicating various elements native to cloudbanks and lending these aspects a pacific influence over the audience. These slippery melodies are tantalizing approximations of the tenuous nature of meteorological phenomena: ethereal yet compelling, evocative yet elusive as whims of chance persist in altering their definition.

While the majority of the tunes on these two discs are ambient in character, each one does contain a few pieces in which the pace and intensity break away from a passive disposition and pursue snappy passages of engaging sonic strength.

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RENE VAN DER WOUDEN: Kaleidoscopic Surrealism (CD on Ambientlive Records)

This CD from 2007 features 68 minutes of pleasant electronic music.

Airy electronic textures are punctuated by denser (but still soothing) synthetic embellishments that establish a infectious mood of serene introspection. The ambience becomes tinged with livelier melodies that retain a gentility even when snappy e-perc enters the mix.

These shimmering tonalities generate a lavish and expansive panorama of relaxing disposition. This foundation frequently hosts meticulously twinkling keyboard passages which serve to vivify the harmonic flow with engaging melodies.

While the majority of this tuneage is mild and pleasant, an undercurrent of restrained intensity surfaces periodically, as bass tones possessing an orchestral flair evoke a heavier-than-air atmospheric layer that floats amid the overall serenity. There are also instances when the tunes move beyond their tranquillity and adopt an inspired edge of puissance.

A few tracks features percussion, functioning as injections of strident pep to the musicís pacific temperament.

The compositions are crystalline and delicate. Unlike most ambient releases, this music is rich with bewitching melodies of suitable complexity. These melodies are compelling without being unduly distracting. Their appeal lies in their beatific gentle nature, but they exhibit a tasty sprightliness.

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RENE VAN DER WOUDEN: Recreation (CD on Van Der Wouden Music)

This release from 2007 features 62 minutes of pastoral electronic music.

A full range of sounds are employed with this recording, all directed toward establishing a serene mood and then seasoning that serenity with a tinge of bouncy pep, resulting in quite enjoyable tuneage that serves to pleasantly invigorate while generating a cerebral calm.

Atmospheric tonalities waft with expansive purpose, blotting out discord and creating a panorama of gentle majesty. Subtle embellishments lend this aerial fog a trembling quality, bestowing the sky with a pulsating demeanor.

More demonstrative melodies emerge, to cavort and twist and roll across the sonic landscape, leaving livelier imprints in their wakes. Shrill tones are reconfigured into more pastoral resonance, then set loose to infect the songs with their congenial influence. Denser textures coalesce to provide dramatic punctuation. Most commonly used, though, are a series of light-hearted sounds of synthetic origin that serve to approximate an environmental exhilaration, welcoming the audience into a comfortable coexistence with nature.

A degree of percussion is utilized, dispensing rhythms which embody a crafty sense of locomotion without becoming too strident.

As the songs progress, a sense of euphoric elevation enters the melodies. Calm is still prevalent, but now a touch of enlightenment has appeared, bringing with it the promise of inspiration and spiritual deliverance.

The overall purpose of these compositions is to sedate in a shrewd manner that actually introduces a buoyancy to the listenerís meditative state. The result is entertaining and graciously hypnotic.

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RENE VAN DER WOUDEN: Universal Quiet (CD on Van Der Wouden Music)

This CD from 2008 offers 59 minutes of serene electronic music.

One would expect a CD with this title to exemplify extreme ambience, but this music strives to combat such minimalist tuneage by injecting lovely melodies into an atmospheric mien, producing a dose of serenity that seethes with gratifying strength.

Gurgling diodes generate pleasing electronic environs peppered with textural flows of heavenly disposition. Inventive keyboards flesh out things into glorious compositions of startling beauty.

The electronics are crisp and delightful. A well-balanced mix of soft and stern sounds result in appealing harmonics which are then embellished with cunning keyboard riffs, transforming into passages of dazzling scope and alluring charm.

E-perc appears in mellow formation to enhance these tracks with a softened locomotion. The tempos are gentle and suitably submerged so as to provide percussive nudges instead of strident propulsion. In several instances, the applied use of cyclic pulsations are employed to provide a tune with elegant rhythms.

These compositions are superb examples of dreamy electronics that can sedate one minute and invigorate the next. Crystalline structures instill a sense of relaxation, only to have that tranquillity bolstered by lavish melodies into engaging excursions into trance with lively instances surfacing with welcome regularity.

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