Zandvoort & Uilenbal – Folk Triumfator

3 out of 5

Label: Weme Records

Produced by: Jimi Hellinga (mastered by)

Stunningly immersive ambience, and then suddenly inert.

Zandvoort & Uilenbal are, I quote a ” ‘paramusical academic’ project of medieval music,” mixing archival instruments with electronics. It’s not necessarily surprising to me that I hear some Pierre Bastien in there on occasion, as that’s another artist mixing the organic with the experimental, but Z & U very much lean more toward a beatless, world-building sensibility, relying on long-running buildups of held tones and sprinkling them with dashes of “other” – other sounds, other instruments. This often walks a fine line between being quite pretty and ominous, which is a great line to walk; Folk Triumfator has half an album’s worth of tracks of this nature which take you down a garden path, hand-in-hand, and then either cast aside the clouds and shine light upon some gorgeous, expansive vista… or call in the storms and smile at you mischievously while beckoning to some shadowy shelter. These tracks keep me entranced, stock still and guided, very willingly, along on the journey; the aurally invisible blending of whichever physical tools with the electronic ones is part of this, as things haze back and forth between something that feels timeless, and something that feels absolutely modern. But just as I’m about to paint myself psychedelic colors and pledge myself to Z & U, a track will play that lacks this sense of fullness; like palate cleansers, these arrive approximately every other song, and are much more minimal, and more sedate – they don’t feel like they build to much. Applied as interstitial songs, I think this would make sense, but the runtimes are mostly the same across the board – running between 5 to 7 minutes.

Weme, as usual, has brought me something very unexpected and absolutely worth a listen, and Zandvoort & Uilenbal have successfully intrigued me enough to see how their other works come off, but Folk Triumfator is a bit too uneven to keep me immersed the whole way through.