review by German journalist Stephan Schelle
The Dutchman René van der Wouden is no longer a blank slate in the electronics scene, as he has been releasing his own music since 2000. So far he had brought his albums, which were mainly produced as CDR, onto the market under his name.
Five tracks with running times between 6:00 and 20:18 minutes can be found on the disc/download.
It starts with the long track “The True Glass Of Alchemiy”, which lasts more than 20 minutes. While all other tracks were written in 2006, René had already recorded this track in May 2005. At that time it was still called “City Of Lights”. But as is the case with titles for instrumental music, names are smoke and mirrors and certainly fit different moods and themes.
“The True Glass Of Alchemy” begins slowly. This gives the piece something floating and at the same time moves in the area of the “Berlin School”. It takes a good nine minutes for the track – still floating – to add some dynamism. It also reminds me of Tangerine Dream (without a sequencer rhythm). From about minute 11 onwards, the sequencer starts and the track keeps increasing until it ends in an ecstatic part. A very nice track in the style of the “Berlin School”.
“Far Across The Heavens” now changes the timbres and the theme, because Asian sound patterns now predominate here. In addition, René lets the synths rustle in places, as if you were in the center of a storm. After more than two minutes of this nine-minute piece, sequencer rhythms emerge, which in turn show a different sound. From this point on, René goes back to the “Berlin School”.
“Golden Dreams Of Silver Elements”, what a title. It’s rustling again, as if someone had left the door open during a storm. René initially relies on quite Asian sound patterns (also reminds me of bands like the Yellow Magic Orchestra). But again, that won’t last long. In this track, too, René turns on the sequencer and puts his music close to acts like Tangerine Dream. Anyone who likes TDs of the early 80’s will get their money’s worth here.
A dark beginning and again Asian synth sounds with a TD touch are the characteristics of “The Alchemists”. A great track. With the six-minute “Gone To Earth Through The Book Of Minerals”, the CD ends very hymnically (synth choirs are used) and yet highly melodic.
“Alchemia” is a very good publication by the Dutchman René van der Wouden. Anyone who likes the “Berlin School” with Asian timbres will get their money’s worth here.
Stephan Schelle of http://www.musikzirkus-magazin.de
Review by Sylvain Lupari – Sequences Magazine
After the superbly melodious Pro Sequentia, René Van Der Wouden offers an opus a little more different. Definitely more complex, with its very heteroclite intros, Alchemia is an album with slow movements, charming which we listen the body and the spirit down to 0. Not cause it is deeply relieving! No. Because it is well done.
It is delicate, full of subtleties and we have to hear these movements impressed of tenderness and nostalgia, as on The True Glass of Alchemia, an ambient title of an astonishing attraction. Divided into 2 parts, the intro is a slow synthetic movement which develops with subtle modulations. Synth floats in harmonious nothingness. In this space where silence is lulled by fluctuating layers, hide short melodies which come and go, leaving melancholic traces with each celestial lament. A superb movement, full of an incredible sensitivity. In half-time, the rhythm wakes up gently with a series of limpid notes which draws a hypnotic sound arc. A new series of notes is indexed with those in place, stimulating a more complex sequence, which curves with insistence in a rotary minimalism sphere. This sublime sequence modulates its intonations, among sound effects and explosions, before the sequence takes a spring, where the chords pile up and create a harmonious confusion. A bewitching title that draws the depth of his beauty in the shade of his creamy and melodious layers.
Far Across the Heavens has a intro strongly variegated with its vaporous jets, surrounded of tuneful segments, of scattered tablas percussions. Space waves which flood a static universe, where is formed a loopy sequence which undulates among a dark choral and one spectral synth, with acute laments. Ideal as a soundtrack for an intense horror movie. Like an insane goblin, the sequence rolls with frenzy accentuating the minimalism impulsion which splits up on a harmonious synth, to invading layers.
Notes circle, a little like a xylophone, to form a serpentine sequential movement which will scheme in harmony throughout Golden Dreams of Silver Elements. Synthetic pads float and stretch their breaths on other notes which fly around fine pulsations. Floating, the tempo is in rollercoaster on a heavy sequencer which bores in a flooded atmosphere of melodious segments which curve a disconcerting fixity.
After a short atmospheric intro, The Alchemists extends its melody with a superb harmonious sequence. Nimble and limpid notes wind with grace an impulsion to multiple loops, with good slamming percussions and beautiful synth with solos that draw dreams. The Alchemists is certainly one of the beautiful tracks in 2006.
A long atmospheric breath, to which are grafted discrete choirs, prepare the rhythmic intro on clapping percussions of Gone to Earth thru the Book of Minerals. A very electronic title with the spirit of the beautiful rhythmic analog incursions of the 70’s, on a moulding synth with superb melodious lines.
As we can hear Alchemia is a bit different from Pro Sequentia. It is a more progressive opus which requires an attentive listening, to be certain to catch all of its nuances. And, as all the great works, there is always a new click to each listening, capturing our hearing for another listening session. Undeniable sign of a work of great vintage.
2006. Sylvain Lupari / Canada
René van der Wouden follows up his sequencer drenched first album with another effort full of rhythmic/ melodic energy. This time the music and arrangements contain more sophistication and layers of synthetic enhancements. The overall sound is fuller, more powerful, and filled with layers of spatial textures and rippling/ pulsing sequences that make this one of the best recent Euro indie EM releases of late 2006.
2007. Archie Patterson / USA
Alchemia is René Van Der Wouden‘s second album, and though different from Pro Sequentia, it’s every bit as good. This time, René takes a more thoughtful approach to the melody. There’s still sequencers here, just a bit more subdued. The music is every bit as complex as Pro Sequentia, just a bit more spacey, more atmospheric. Again, there are five long pieces, with lots of room for René’s wonderful melodies.
A nice addition to anyone’s collection, particularly for those who like Jean Michel Jarre or Vangelis.
2007. Scott Raymond / NY/USA
Sweet, drifting space music begins the 20-minute epic “The True Glass of Alchemy,” which opens René van der Wouden’s Alchemia. Several minutes are spent in dreamy reverie, light and bright, full of warm pleasant tones. At the 10:30 mark the Berlin school sequencing starts simple and slow. It adds a double stutter step into the loop just before the 14:00 point, then changes again a half a minute later, continuing to meander its way patiently through. Eventually it doubles its pace for that classic retro sound, with warm pads in the background to complete a satisfying piece.
Windswept synths start off “Far Across the Heavens,” joined by bubbly sequencing and nice flute sounds. More sequencing is layered in, as is a slow, simple but effective bass line. Completing the effect is a melodic synth lead line.
“Golden Dreams of Silver Elements” again makes me think of bubbles as the light, brisk sequencing starts. All the sounds are thoroughly electronic.
Gurgling churning noises introduce “The Alchemists” but it too settles into the pattern of bright melodic synths and sequencing.
The last track epitomizes the whole album nothing fancy, not too fast or too slow, with a sunny outlook on things.
The emphasis throughout Alchemia is on keeping things upbeat and moving. Nothing wrong with that.
2007. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
“The True Glass Alchemy” begins with mysterious synth pads that set the tone for this moody piece of music. Very soon, bass notes are added, flowing in smooth waves. Excellent atmospheric music! Some effects and samples are applied to great effect. New sounds are added, together with layered synth pads. If you’re looking for interesting atmospheric EM – this is it. Little by little, a sequence creeps in subtly, gradually gaining in volume and intensity. However, it remains relatively simple, while the main attraction of this track are the atmospherics. I must also mention that excellent melodic section that comes towards the end of this track. Floating atmospheric EM at its best.
“Far Across the Heavens” begins with some strange effects and windy synths. Soon, a catchy melody develops, having an almost ethnic flair to it. The melody is then supported by a pulsing bass synth that transforms into a nice, albeit fairly static, sequence. Another higher-register sequence joins and we are riding on one roller-coaster of an EM track. A third sequence appears, supported by a strong bass and a nice distant melody. Nice work!
In the beginning of “Golden Dreams of Silver Elements” we hear wind sounds, a mallet-like sequence and a mysterious melody. The sequence then mutates, with low-register notes added. However, it’s all pretty whimsical so far. The melody has something of a Tangerine Dream-y quality to it. It’s a nice track for those relaxed moments. Nice use of Mellotron string ensemble sounds as well. Towards the end, the sequence becomes fairly intense.
“The Alchemists” enter with heavy effects. A brilliant emotional sequence arrives, supported by a simple but effective three-note melody. It’s rather straightforward but very effective. A steady electronic rhythm serves as the backbone, as the sequences mutate and various melodies come and go.
“Gone To Earth Through the Book of Minerals” begins with excellent Mellotron choirs and solemn symphonic synths. A sequence develops, as synth flute play a bright melody. Some hi-hats appear, supporting the sequence. This is EM with bright and crisp arrangements.
If you liked Rene’s debut album, you might as well like “Alchemia”. On this album, he refined his arrangement skills and added a few really effective melodic hooks. An enjoyable listen! Best track: “The Alchemists”.
2008. Artemi Pugachov / The Encyclopedia of Electronic Music
This is a little strange music filled with some inscrutability. This is the world of René van der Wouden’s “Alchemia”. The artist gives vent to his innermost emotions. And we can revel in the passion music of “Alchemia”.
René van der Wouden’s electronic music is very strong and powerful. It gives rise to surrealistic images and, also, it has a medieval gothic flavor. The music of “Alchemia” is well structured and thought-out. This is the creative approach of a man who wants to influence on the outward things, but who at the same time is able to perceive the invisible voice of surrounding world.
As you listen to this CD time passes by very imperceptibly because René van der Wouden’s compositions are versatile and inspired. He creates his own dynamic movie. And you can easily find your own inspiration in the moving and rapidly changing music world of true alchemist René van der Wouden.
Sweeping and majestic, “Prosa 1” starts this synthesizer fest in grand style. Soaring pads and effects ring out. Then a moderately paced sequencer loop arrives, followed shortly by a full-on rhythm section that picks up the pace. The lead synth is a tad on the cute side, but the bright upbeat nature of it is enjoyable. Airy synths draw the track to a close. “Prosa 2” takes time to develop, starting with a cool lengthy space music intro, including some nice chords and reverberating bell tones. Just about the time it seems this one will stay mellow, a low bass sequence comes out of nowhere at the 6:30 mark, along with a fantastic soaring synth lead. I get chills on this one. A slamming beat really kicks it up a notch. What an excellent track this is.
“Prosa 3” is a 22 ½ minute epic, with a majestic feel like Jarre or Vangelis at times. Once the smooth melody and beat comes in, it also reminds me of Gert Emmens. The best part is, a synth sounds like a synth – no pseudo guitars, violins, or anything else.
Pro Sequentia is pure electronic music from beginning to end.
2005. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
The album Pro Sequentia consists of five tracks named “Prosa 1”, “Prosa 2” etc.
The first part begins with serene symphonic synth pads and abstract noises. At around the 2 minute mark we get the first sequence and then another one. Shakuhachi flute can be heard that gives this track an oriental flair. A 4/4 beat then enters the stage, providing a modern age to what started like an out-and-out retro number. We then get lots of melodies so those who enjoy melodic EM should dig this. The track ends with subtle pads and soundscapes. For some reason it all reminds me on 90’s Tangerine Dream, although with better arrangements and more interesting sounds.
“Prosa 2” has an excellent start with subtle hummings and some out-there sounds. A wonderful soundscape that feels like being in a parallel world or in a faraway star system. This is in completely different style compared to the first track and I welcome these changes with both hands. A lone melody is playing on top of wind sounds. Mournful, even a bit tragic mood permeates this piece. A bell sound adds to the funeral-like atmosphere. A musical equivalent of a transition to another world is the only analogy I can think of at the moment. However, it suddenly erupts with a bass sequence and some melodic motifs with even a bit of Mellotron flute in there. A rhythm then kicks in and takes things closer to dance territory, with insistent melodic theme and some tight soloing. The track closes with a dramatic pad section and effective piano sequences.
“Prosa 3” is the longest track of the lot. We hear some pads and a melodic theme that just wanders along. Relaxing, but very emotional stuff. Substantial changes come after 8 minutes when an Enigma-like rhythm kicks in, along with some resonating fast-paced bass pattern, while melodic meandering solo continues to cast its spell. Different themes appear towards the 12 minute mark, along with more intense backgrounds and some additional effects. All then calms down for an atmospheric interlude. Closing this track is another upbeat sequencer-based section with multiple pulsations coupled with a rhythm and some solo synth.
The fourth track is dominated by major chords, therefore being much more uplifting than most of what’s come before. Sequences do come in after three minutes into the track, making this another urgent rhythmic number. My only gripe are the sounds that on this particular track sound somewhat unimaginative and way too thin. The sequences are ok, but the surrounding sounds / solos I’d prefer more punchy and bold (and more wooden if you know what I mean).
On “Prosa 5” Rene serves us with some synth pads playing uplifting melodies. Then a sequenced section appears with some cheesy brass & flute leads. Another atmospheric part with synth pads and barely heard effects comes next. Then, noisy sequence echoes in the distance that is joined by yet another one and another one in the bass register. Thus, we motor along on top of the most energetic section of this track that eventually closes with sea sounds and various effects.
The last section is rhythmic but laid-back, with nice melodies.
Overall, Pro Sequentia is a fine album that perhaps relies a bit too much on digital synthesizers for my liking. However, own preferences put aside, I’d say this album will be enjoyed by those who like melodic / sequenced Electronic Music with varied moods and a classical influence in there as well.
2005. Artemi Pugachov / Encyclopedia of Electronic Music
Dutchman René van der Wouden is already active in the electronic music for a long time.
With “Pro Sequentia” he delivers his first cd-r. René’s early sources of inspiration are artists like Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis. These are people that choose the melodically side of EM and this is also René’s course.
This cd-r consists 5 pieces: “Prosa” (“Part 1” -“Part 5”). The first part opens with nice digital sounds after which a sequence falls in, soon followed by (pop) rhythms and a Jarre-like melody. It can be heard that René can play pretty well. While listening to the music, these elements together remind me of the music of Frank van Bogaert, though his music is more in the direction of Vangelis.
The second part begins quietly, slightly as filmmusic, and a piano-like sound after which the melodic element returns.
“Part 3”, with 22:23 minutes the longest track, seems homage to Jarre but also has some melodylines that sounds like symphonic rock. The choice of sounds is well.
Sequences play an important part in the fifth part. I find this the best track on the album.
The last composition also has excessive sequences, though these sound somewhat fussier. “Pro Sequentia” is an interesting debutalbum. Sometimes it sounds something too poppy for me personally but in spite of this the album is promising.
2005. Paul Rijkens / SonicImmersion.org
What a marvellous title. Pro Sequentia, or Prosa in Latin, means sequential anthems sung by monks and musicians in the years 1100. This form of abstract and repetitive art would be the cradle of the sequenced music nowadays. It is also the title of the 1st work of René van der Wouden, a Dutch synthesist whom I hear on some compilations, whose style charms me so much. It is thus with a well nourished curiosity that my ears rubbed into Pro Sequentia. And, shall I say immediately, I had very beautiful moments listening to it.
Prosa Part I starts with a wonderful sidereal breath, tinted with analog sounds effects and a synthetic orchestral movement. Soft, the line floats with tenderness, whereas a superb series of undulating keys trace a nervous sequence, a splendid flute appears, solidifying a melancholic melody which could melted tears hidden back since years away. The rhythm becomes animated around another more dynamic sequence, good percussions and one divinely melodious synth. Prosa I is full of serene and great harmonies to hear. A superb title that ends too quickly.
More atmospheric Prosa II proposes a long intro with heteroclite sounds effects. On a cosmic wind, keys cross and uncross a sad melody which will nourish the sequence to come. The tone is serious and disastrous bells open the way with a sequence which oscillates in the dazes of suave and intense synthetic layers which balances a waltzing orchestral movement. The percussions explode a melodious rhythm, with a bass sequence and a superb Mellotron which adds a richer and deeper musical texture. The tempo is more and more rhythmical with superb magical flute Mellotron solos. Another superb moment which dies out in the intense atmospheric dazes, and an alert piano segment.
Prosa III continues this atmospheric quest. The intro floats on good synthetic pads which stretch their chords in a kind furrow of harmonious themes. Superb passages of synthesizer, twinned with breaths of tenderness of a Mellotron flute cradles the melancholic atmosphere which overhangs this intro. Symphonic and majestic, the synths progress until the rhythm becomes animated. Dry percussions and a heavy drone bass sequence, seize Prosa III, around the 8th minute mark. The sequence flies with resonance on a slow rhythm, but stylist, as Enigma or Jean Michel Jarre styles. A wonderful melody which slowly quiets out in dense atmospheric breaths, before finding the road of cadence, with hammering synth solos.
A nice small synthetic serenade cribs the melancholic darkness of Prosa IV. Limpid keys, sounding like a crystalline harpsichord, float in static surroundings. Frantic, they hiccough a sequential movement which rams a jerked and hypnotic rhythm. Heavy synthetic layers dramatize the atmosphere whereas the percussions hammer a hungrier beat on a linear movement of the virtual harpsichord, which is decreasing, on rammed keys of intensity.
Prosa V encloses this extremely melodious opus with a symphonic touch within the spirit of a contemporary classical movement. A superb melody which waltzes on mellotron layers with the violin character, traditional flutes and other classical wind instruments. Superb symphonic synth takes the lead and blows of majestic anthems on a sequencer which circles and assumes the rhythm section. Great contemporary art which exploits various styles and sequences, embracing heavy rhythms and melodies sumptuously dresses more beautiful orchestral assets. What a final.
This first René van der Wouden exceeds my expectations. Pro Sequentia is a superb opus, with highly stylized arrangements. Van Der Wouden uses and develops his sequences in an astonishing way. His music is woven multiple sequences movements which intersect with affinity on very fluid and melodious orchestral arrangements.
My hairs did rise on more than one occasion, showing out of any doubt the great sensitivity which seems to surround this extremely promising composer.
2006. Sylvain Lupari / Canada, Quebec
This is René’s first album, and an impressive one at that. There are obvious influences from different European electronic music styles, and well done at that. And that alone should be enough to make this a worthwhile album.
But what really matters is René’s command of melody. Even though this is a very sequencer driven album, there’s a strong melodic element, an uplifting quality to the music that I seldom hear these days. There are five long pieces, giving René plenty of room to show his ability.
My favorites are Prosa 3 and Prosa 5, both very heavy sequencer pieces, but also very positive melodically as well. Highly recommended.
2007. Scott Raymond / NY/USA
René van der Wouden has a very personal style. His music can be defined as Space melodic, although it also enters Classical symphonism and Pop sometimes.
“Pro Sequentia” is an impressive work of warm melodies and magical atmospheres, where the less abstract elements of Space Music merge with those more ethereal ones from Contemporany Instrumental Music. Rhythm and melody become fused into complex constructions, where the sequencers shape the melodies. Also there are slow passages, where floating environments predominate.
This is no doubt a wonderful album, accompanied by a amazing cover.
2006. Edgar Kogler / Amazing Sounds
This EM merges newer styles and Berlin school like elements into something new. Its not a clone of Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze. But its is not too far away from their style.
It pleases the fans of pulsing sequences. How to fit it in words? Better listen!
2005. Till Kopper / Germany