The Dutchman René van der Wouden is no longer a blank slate in the electronics scene, as he has had a number of publications since 2000. His latest work is called “Universal Quiet” and is based on the “Berlin School” of the 1970s and the style of his compatriot Ron Boots. Unfortunately, I cannot answer whether René’s music sounds similar on the previous albums, as I only know this CD from him so far.
René presents five pieces between 9:41 and 17:44 minutes on the album.
With the eleven-minute “In Silence” the CD begins very strongly in the style of Ron Boots. If you like early albums by the Dutchman, you will get your money’s worth with this first piece, at least I like this slowly developing track, the right one Mixture of soft harmony surfaces and rhythmic accessories – for me one of the best pieces on the album, because I like the style very much.
“Pin Drop” is initially carved out of a completely different cloth. On this track, René initially relies more on moods and sounds than on melodies or harmonies. Especially at the beginning, that sounds like discharging electrical surges. A strange, cool and futuristic atmosphere develops in the mind’s eye of the listener. Electronic effects alternate in the first seven minutes and then suddenly these melodies and rhythm sequences that are reminiscent of Ron Boots sound again. If it weren’t for those first seven minutes, “Pin Drop” would be another highlight for me of the album, because the piece has really gorgeous passages that captivate me.
A very beautiful melody, which reminds me of film music, first moves gently in the piece “Be Quiet”. Then René lets his synths chirp again and an atmosphere develops that does without melody, because it is initially silent, but peels off after three minutes, gently emerge from the background.
After this lovely and calm piece, “Go Quiet” is a bit more rhythmic again. At first you have the feeling of launching into orbit in a small spaceship from a spaceport. Then you glide gently, but still rhythmically, through space . A touch of Klaus Schulze blows through these sound paintings. I like that again very much. In addition to the styles already mentioned, there is also a component here that we come from the English electronics engineers who have anchored their roots in the “Berlin School” know. With “Get Quieter” René releases us from his new work. This track also has a basic sequence on which melody lines drift.
“Universal Quiet” is an electronic album with a mixture of “Berlin School” and the music of Ron Boots. In spite of all that, we are not dealing here with a pure clone. René knows how to combine well-known stylistic devices into something new without it sounding worn out or heard several times. Anyone who likes “Berlin School” and the music of Ron Boots will also enjoy this album.
- Stephan Schelle / Germany
“In Silence” begins with thick synthetic pads and great effects. Some lovely analog timbres are used together with more ordinary digital atmospherics. A square-wave sequence appears, gaining in intensity and momentum. A steady groove develops as the Mellotron choir casts its spell. Subtle bell sounds can be heard in what sounds like a very Schulzian finale.
“Pin Drop” begins with strange effects creating an eerie atmosphere. Dark pads bring in even more uneasiness. Very soon great analogue effects herald the coming of a growling sequencer line. Excellent minimalistic lead melody can be heard. This is some quality EM. The sequences are steady and yet floating and enjoyable. Lovely Mellotron choir adds to the picture, as well as some thick analogue fx.
“Be Quiet” begins with synth atmospheres, lots of effects and a background melody. It’s all rather pastoral and restrained at this point. An extremely bright and crisp sequence comes, as the track gets brighter, too. A percussive rhythm starts, as Mellotron string ensemble plays an uplifting melody.
On the other hand, “Go Quiet” surprises with a very upbeat sequence and smooth synth pads. It has something of a Gert Emmens feel to it. This does not only relate to the sounds themselves, but also the arrangements, the melodies and the structure of the piece. If you like Gert’s style, you owe it to yourself to check this track out. This melancholic composition finishes with a lot of bubbling analogue effects.
The final track, titled “Get Quieter”, begins with sustained Mellotron choirs, some effects and a somewhat plodding sequence. The atmosphere at this point is very Schulze-like circa “X“. The tron choirs leave and a reedy lead line is introduced, again reminding on Gert Emmens‘ style of emotional and a bit melancholic floating EM.
“Universal Quiet” is a relaxing Electronic Music album for those reflective moments, or moments of unexpected sadness. More Eindhoven School than Berlin School to my ears, it’s brimming with simple but effective sequences, crystalline atmospheres, restrained melodies and warm effects.
2008. Artemi Pugachov / The Encyclopedia of Electronic Music
Kaleidoscopic oceans with electronic textures, melodies ranging from the sentimental to the sublime, adventurous rhythms. By using synthesizers and sequencers with unparalelled mastery, René van der Wouden has created a very successful album of Space Music, which follows the same conceptual line present in his other works.Undoubtedly, the followers of this genre will enjoy this work. The freshness of the compositions is nourished with the very personal approach the artist uses to compose.