Taking its title from a single quote from Lord Byron’s epic, sixteen thousand line, satirical poem, Don Juan, Rutger Hoedemaekers` The Age Of Oddities is in part a tribute to the now Brussels-based Dutch composer`s close friend and collaborator, Jóhann Jóhannsson. Echoes of the pair’s work on films, such as James Marsh`s The Mercy, can be heard throughout. The album is also a statement of closure, and a fresh start. Hoedemaekers having recently left the Berlin studio he co-founded a decade ago, while the music itself is a project he began soon after first meeting Jóhannsson – and which was only completed via a memorial concert to mark the Icelander`s sad, untimely, passing. Rutger`s personal circumstances reflecting the predicament of mankind in general, as, in lockdown, we attempt to take stock, make sense of, see a clear, just, way through on-going rapid environmental, political, and social change. Given this back story there are bound to be touches of musical melancholy, but, in all honesty, these are surprisingly brief.
An opening fanfare of muted, treated, brass masks a choir of subliminal voices – tongues manipulated through guitar pedals, and loops of tape. Blurring their number as if an opera were beginning far far away. Strings swoon – all 32 pieces of Hungary`s Budapest Art Orchestra. Within this symphonic setting, a sad, cinematic, ache rises. Melodies of optimism and hope, however, gradually counter any introspection. Playful pin-points of piano toying with the pastoral swells. Those submerged singers, become stuttered, broken off into bytes of sound. That diva in the distance dashed on a tide of crashing beats. The vaporized vocals eventually moving to the fore, evolving into the score`s most prominent instrument. Their sighing guarding details of glittering, electronic, glitch, the drawing of players` breath. The horns turning a cool blue. Blowing a midnight-hued jazz, a reminder of Miles` romantic noir rendering of Rodrigo`s Sketches Of Spain, before the whole hits its finale, reaching a stirring, purposeful, peak.