Cover photo by Jonathan Crabb.
Earlier this year, we talked about Orphax, an alias of composer Sietse van Erve, when taking a look at the activity of his label, Moving Furniture Records. Then, the «Piano Music» EP, one of the musician’s “most personal works to date” was about a month away from release. A peculiar full-length and two additional EP releases later, Orphax is set to play its first full concert without a laptop (source) tomorrow at Amsterdam’s De Ruimte. The show, which will further see a performance by the drums and cello duo of George Hadow and Pau Sola, is the last of a series of benefits for OCCII, one of the most important independent venues in the city, which is raising funds to renew its sound system (find out more about it here). In the remainder of this piece, we take a look at all four Orphax releases from 2019.
First and foremost, there’s «The Beginning», a twenty three minute long piece entitled «There was nothing, and let’s keep it that way», which you can hear below. This exercise in ambient through droning minimalism was recorded on December 31, 2018, and digitally released a day later, on January 1. Accompanying it was the following, rather straightforward, statement: “recorded live with 2 synthesizers without overdubs or edits,” with the synthesizers in question then identified as the Vermona Perfourmer MK2 and the ARP Odyssey.
«The Beginning» was released digitally on January 1 and can be obtained here.
Following the long-form piece was «44×44», released the following month and, as its title alludes to, comprised of 44, 44 seconds-long sketches. The idea dates back to 2005, when the musician “was working on a few sketches to try out some new things.” As the first few sketches all lasted 44 seconds, this led him to write 44 of them. He further explains the story behind the release, “once in a while I would work on this, without any set deadline to finish,” adding that “I removed some old sketches, recorded new ones and repeated this various times.” One would be thus tempted to read the record’s progression as mirroring the artist’s, however, they were eventually randomized, “so it is not clear anymore what was recorded when and in which order.”
«44×44» was released digitally on February 19 and can be obtained here. Due to the cycle of creation, recording, and destruction these short pieces went through, “it is impossible to recreate these sketches in the same way as you can hear them in this selection.” Be that as it may, Orphax suggests new life is in store for them, “first of all, they are here now to be listened to and enjoyed. Second of all, they will be used as a source for new music.”
The following month saw the release, through Moving Furniture Records, of «Piano Music», the record we talked about here, “with music based on improvised piano recordings,” which the composer describes as “very personal music about closure and trying to leave things behind.”
«Piano Music» was released on March 15 and is available here on both digital and 7” vinyl formats.
Finally, there’s the short compilation «Music for Taâlem», comprising two tracks released by taâlem, the record label whose goal is to explore “the different sides of ambient music through 3”Cdr’s only.” Orphax‘s pieces now collected in this EP were originally part of «homework – year 2» and «homework – year 3», released in 2017 and 2018 and digitally available here and here, respectively.
«Music for Taâlem» was released on April 19 and is available on a “name your price” model at this location.