TRACK: Rutger Hoedemaekers – ‘The Invention Of The Moon’: fragile wonder from Jóhann Jóhannsson collaborator

Rutger Hoedemaekers, photographed by Chloë Desnoyers

YOU MAY or may not be enough of an aficionado of modern composition to have come across Rutger Hoedemaekers, who’s recently signed to FatCat’s superb leftfield and experimental modern composition imprint, 130701 – but if this particular area of our musical landscape grabs you by the heart, you soon will be and frankly, damn well ought to be.

After many years just behind the front line, composing for the big screen and working in collaboration of the some of the finest names of recent times, he today drops his debut single for the label, “‘The Invention Of The Moon”; you can luxuriate in its complex depths with us on our SoundCloud embed, below.

The tune itself comes from a similar experimental but very human compositional palette as some pieces on Olivier Alary & Johannes Malfatti’s recent, deeply affecting album, u,i (which we reviewed here).

It begins in a female voice, processed to the point of fracture and linguistic incomprehensibility, but not to such a point as you can’t immediately identify with the soul and bare-naked emotional consciousness of her soft song: pitched as it is somewhere between seeming lament and lullaby, fragile, real, yet also surreal.

Our unnamed chanteuse is the rhythmic and melodic constant about which slowly, ever so slowly, Rutger allows the full majesty of the 23-piece Budapest Art Orchestra to swirl and swell, whirling an ever-more complex harmonic response around that initial lone, lost voice. Stunning.

It’s just the tiniest taste of what’s to come from Rutger, with his The Age Of Oddities album set for release on March 5th next year. It comprises ten tracks: beautifully recorded, lusciously arranged, arrestingly melodic, deeply human, utterly forward-looking. (Yes, we are lucky enough to be bathing in the full-length vision).

And once you discover that Rutger has spent tin the Berlin studio he co-founded working closely with such talent as Hildur Guðnadóttir, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dustin O’Halloran, Gunnar Örn Tynes from Múm and Yair Elazar Glotman, you’ll understand the absolute immersion he has in deep soundscapery, its manufacture and its precise capture.

Rutger was born in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, his first steps into music coming through the world of ambient techno – whose prettiness and textures you can hear still inform his work. He later studied composition at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, before founding the Berlin studio that was to become such a salon of creativity.

In 2015 he was asked by Jóhann to compose the score for the acclaimed Icelandic crime series Trapped, in tandem with Hildur Guðnadóttir – the pair winning an award for their work. He went to work with Jóhann himself on the scores for Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! (2017) and James Marsh’s The Mercy (2018), since which he composed a brace of scores alone: The Last Berliner (2018), and this year’s Hulu/Arte France production No Man’s Land.

But The Age Of Oddities itself has been being painstakingly put together for years, always held just behind more pressing matters. It took the terrible loss of Jóhann more than two years ago now to spur Rutger on to move forward, secure change, close a chapter, build a beautiful work – which is partly in memoriam to the great Icelandic musician.

If you’ve followed 130701’s astonishing series of releases over the past year or so – from Dmitry Evgrafov, Yair Elazar Glotzman and Mats Erlandsson, Shida Shahabi, the aforementioned u,i – you’ll know it’s an absolute hallmark of enveloping and cutting edge modern composition, recorded beautifully. To say it’s a decent record label is a bit like saying the Northern Lights are aren’t a half-bad lights show. It releases only a small clutch of things annually; but pretty much every one lands a blow on all your musical needs in terms of sonic gratification, emotional response, and experimental melodicism.

Pencil March 5th onto your calendar, and keep an eye out here and at 130701 for pre-order availability.

Rutger Hoedemaeker’s The Age Of Oddities will be released by 130701 digitally on March 5th; a vinyl edition will also soon be available for pre-order, release date to be confirmed, dependent on coronavirus restrictions.

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