Wonderful words by the ever erudite Adam Turner.
Reinhard Vanbergen must avoid sleep. He creates and releases music seemingly constantly, on his own, with others, and as part of Rheinzand. His latest solo album is based on the seven modes of music. Each track is exactly ten minutes long, making the album an epic seventy minutes. Reinhard relates the sounds to the western musical modes – seven modes, but with five lost. He goes on to tie in both minor and major scales (Aeolian and Ionina), circles, chakras, the twelve signs of the zodiac, and the months of the year, the days of the week, the solar system, ancient Greek ideas about the 4 seasons, the elements, colours, and more, all coming back to those scales, the minor-major variations, and the horizontal scales of non-western music. In short, it’s a numerological and cross-cultural concept album.
The music is, thankfully, a delight, largely ambient, and as the title suggests, very meditative. The seven pieces bear similarity to Richard Norris’ Music For Healing project – a monthly ambient exploration of minimalism, repetition and deep listening. Reinhard’s musicality is evident throughout – from Locrian Tuesday’s cello and piano – perhaps the root piece here – to Phrygian Wednesday – full of ominous ambient wash and a strummed acoustic guitar (including the occasional thump of fingers on catgut). Aoelian Thursday has minor scale piano circling over a rising and falling, sawing backdrop. Gentle, Roger Eno-esque notes finding their way in, while the drones simultaneously subtly force their way forward.
Dorian Friday floats further into the ambient realm, all drones and tones and reverb-ed piano notes, a glacial beauty in its passage from start to finish. Myxolydian Saturday’s synth adds a touch of the “Tangerine Dreams” – a cinematic sound that summons images of hunter gatherers moving slowly across tundra, continents drifting, seasons changing, suns rising and setting. Ionian Sunday pitter patters in, a spectral choir “ahh”-ing in its distance, keys and a rippling top-line taking it in turns to lead, before Reinhard’s violin returns.
Lydian Monday completes the circle – piano chords echoing, while classical guitar flits in and out. The Spanish-leaning 6-string action surfing on synth swells that see us through to the end. The sense of a journey being completed is hard to avoid, an ambient cycle concluding, back where it began. Suitably relaxed, we click play and listen again.
Reinhard Vanbergen’s Meditation on Modern Modes is out now on Music For Dreams.
You can find more proper, on point, prose from Adam Turner over at his own brilliant blog, The Bagging Area.