Review Summary: Heron's first steps into Satie-inspired ambient. May he wander far into this land.
The Netherlands isn’t that well-known for its vivid ambient scene. However, that might change with the first solo release of Heron, an Amsterdam based producer who has recently released Wandelaar
, which translates roughly as ‘hiker’ or ‘walker’, but the Dutch word has a slow or stately connotation as well. And Heron’s music on Wandelaar
embodies this perfectly.
, Heron was active in the Amsterdam dance scene. He released airy techno on several splits with Dutch labels Tape Records and BAKK. With his solo debut, he instead takes a left-turn, focussing mainly on ethereal piano melodies drenched in echo and reverb. Slow, stately piano flourishes take shape, flicker for a moment, and then slowly fade into nothingness. The mood is sombre yet positive, slightly melancholy yet far from bland or boring. The music is somewhat reminiscent of Satie (mainly fellow Dutchman Reinbert de Leeuw’s famous slow renditions of the Gymnopédies
and the Gnossiennes
) or even Debussy’s solo piano works.
The most striking detail, mainly given Heron’s history with techno, is that there is almost no beat or any percussion on the record’s seven tracks. During the spare moments when it is used, he isolates it, like on interlude and side-A closer ‘Selenieten’. Further dismissing any resemblance with his prior techno output, this album features hardly any electronic elements. A notable exception are excellent twin tracks ‘Maangerij’ and ‘Caverne’, featuring short bursts of glittering synth, some theremin-like sounds and washes of violins.
, Heron has put The Netherlands on the map of ambient music. We can only wonder where he will be walking off to next. Hopefully, it is only slightly as good as this stellar debut.