On Equal Weights, Dutch sound artists Frans de Waard and Martijn Comes are tightening the bond of their collaboration without ever actually responding to each other. This paradox was made possible by a remarkable creative process: First, de Waard created two empty containers – acoustic canvases of a predefined length – and added his own sonic brushstrokes to them. Then, he sent them to Comes, who finished the “paintings” by filling in the blanks. What could have turned into a random collection of sounds ended up an immersive journey – thanks to a shared interest in an underlying topic.
When Comes received the first version of the two long-form tracks, the old-school electro-acoustic timbres instantly put him into a very particular, sentimental mood. Topics like memory, grief, and longing came welling up. “I just felt a bit nostalgic,” was de Waard’s nonchalant response, but it sent Comes into an inspirational spiral. Nostalgia, both as a concept and a concrete pointer towards musical source materials, would turn into an unspoken leitmotif for the album.
Embedded into the compositions on this CD are ethereal, recomposed sections from the works of 16th century murderer, psychopath and genius Gesualdo; dreamy trumpet and flugelhorn improvisations by fellow Dutch musician Marcel Klingeler; as well as synthesizer leads seemingly taken straight from a 1990s Warp 12inch. “We were working within and towards a shared form,” Comes remembers, “At the same time, we were staying within our own space.”
Nostalgia is closely related to our personal perception of time. And so it can be no surprise that Equal Weights deals with time in many, both open and disguised ways – not least expressed by the fact that these pieces clock in close to the half hour mark each. That reference was also the guideline for the artwork by Bas Mantel, who arrived at the idea of using gemstones as a symbol for digging up objects from the past that have stayed underground for a long time. Once polished, they are suddenly charged with occasionally overwhelming emotions.
For the duo, this technique was a deliberate counterpoint to their earlier album Various Weights which was based on a highly interactive, extremely detailed and expansive process of continuously sending sounds and arrangements hence and forth between their studios. Since that release, the two had performed together as a duo several times, gaining a better understanding and a stronger sense of trust.
As a result, Equal Weights, despite its exquisite corpse approach, feels more, rather than less, cohesive, than their debut. It also, in contrast with the title, has something weightless about it – a final paradox on an album which started out with one in the first place.
released November 11, 2022
Composition by Frans de Waard & Martijn Comes
Trumpet & Flugelhorn by Marcel Klingeler
Artwork & Lay-out by Bas Mantel
Mastered by Jos Smolders at EARLabs