some kinds words from Frans de Waard in the recent issue of Vital Weekly!
"Blake Edwards, the man behind Vertonen, is not someone who does things by half, as he proves, once again, with three new releases. I am quite a fan of most of his work, except for some of his noise work. With such a body of work, you could think that much of it is in the similar musical territory, but then you are wrong.
The approach Edwards has towards the world of drones has many faces and here he shows how that works out. 'Shallows' and 'Shallows II" (not sure why he didn't use a double CDR release in one package) are work in which he uses field recordings, drones, small objects and creates some very interesting sound collages with this material This time it is not all put together in one big mass of sound, but in a more linear approach. Vertonen explores a few sound events and then moves on. On 'Shallows' there are more or fewer breaks within the piece, whereas on 'Shallows II', they are cross-faded slowly. The cover details the various sections, and they all have track titles (which reminded me of track titles by Hands To), so why he didn't go for cutting these into separate tracks, I don't know. The differences, so I gather from the information, lie in what sounds are used.
On 'Shallows' this is "raw and processed field recordings with a focuses on over air recordings from closed, resonant internal spaces (churches, ventilation systems) external spaces (fields, forests) and external transmissions (shortwave radio)" and on 'Shallows II' "small manipulated objects and machines (cassette and microcassette recorded direct, small wood and metal assemblages), and processed field recordings", but it is not easy to distinguish that with the result found on these discs. On 'Shallows II" there is a whole section that I would think is all ventilation systems. Which, perhaps, only means, what do I know? I very much enjoyed the quiet approach Vertonen has here, bringing a much-needed rest in the headspace here, following some turmoil of a few days.
The linear approach as well as the collage-like style of using different elements to tell his story works wonderfully well. The covers are hand-painted gouaches and will disappear over time, depending on how you handle them. I love that idea.
'Elettra' is a somewhat different work, a bit louder and working with 'raw and processed shortwave signals'. I love the use of shortwave signals a lot. It is, next to the human voice, one very easy instrument to play (although it needs practice and creativity; that goes without saying). I have no idea if Vertonen uses a real radio or uses the one from the University of Twente, which allows you to tap deep into all short, mid and long frequencies worldwide. Also, I don't know what Edwards does with these radio waves in terms of the processing; analogue or digital or perhaps a combination. He does something, that I am sure of. I believe I hear in each of the six sections to hear a mix of various signals and a few additional sound effects. Throughout this album is all a bit louder than the other two, or rather more present in the overall sound approach, but at the same time, it is effectively music of a similar quiet approach and deep listening. This is closer to the more usual drone approach of Vertonen, and it has the usual intense and mysterious sound that I know and love so much from him. There are so many voices on this release, just radio waves in many layers, and coloured by the use of sound effects. Excellent release. It once again made me think that a book on the historical use of radio signals as instruments is something I would welcome a lot, providing people such as Vertonen will get a place in there too!