Dutch sound sculptor Coen Oscar Polack returns to Moving Furniture Records with A Concrete Pasture. After his album Haarlemmerhout he now takes his journey world wide.
A Concrete Pasture is released as LP mastered by Jos Smolders in artwork by Coen Oscar Polack.
A Concrete Pasture’ by Coen Oscar Polack is the follow-up to ‘Haarlemmerhout’ (2020), an album named after a park close to his home in Haarlem in the Netherlands. ‘A Concrete Pasture’ brings Polack’s interest in exploring the larger world around him back into his music. Polack is a magician in combining field recordings from all over the world, be it a temple in Bangkok, the Dutch Wadden Islands or a the percussive Gamelan instruments, and electronic processing of these recordings. With all these ingredients he creates a vivid, nostalgic, futuristic but familiar world of sounds and emotions.
At first, the colors of the recordings seem scattered, the sounds unrelated, but there is a deeper train of thought running through the music. It is the persistent impression of a travelogue; of places, family and friends, helping Polack in co-creating his music. In ‘Cuore Nero’, nostalgic powerchords are composed into tapestries of ambient-noise, ‘Unseen Shores’ uses a recomposed recording of Polack’s children on the Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog and develops into visceral, almost spiritual music, and a field recording of Wat Po in Bangkok in ‘Phra Buddhasaiyas’ becomes a luminous homage that the incorporated guitar sound burns into your skull.
While listening, it becomes evident that Polack is being reflective in auditive images and memory, giving a meaning to a music that is liberated of its formalities and charged with a poignant imagery by transformation, one that is bright and lucid and respects the process from recording until ornamentation.
The longest piece of the album ‘Kraaiennest’, starts with the recording of a Hong Kong traffic light, later to be cut up and transformed into a technoid Musique Concrète piece, with a slow progression into a warm crescendo-decrescendo themed electroacoustic piece, which takes on a life on its own. The finale is Polack on this tenor saxophone putting a stamp on the completion of his work, a performance reminiscing of the raw expressiveness of Albert Ayler.
‘A Concrete Pasture’ points to a landscape, or to a person’s current situation in life. Coen Oscar Polack did himself justice by writing an elegant, vibrant album, a tribute to his reflection of reality, his aesthetics, and with raw authenticity and skill, leaving a great space for the audience’s imagination.
In 2020, Moving Furniture Records released the previous album by this Dutch sound artist who lives in the Netherlands. That previous one was titled ‘Haarlemmerhout’ after a park in Haarlem. Howard did the review back then (Vital Weekly 1235) and said the same I would say about this one. It’s a solid release from beginning to end. The big difference between the two is that ‘Haarlemmerhout’ is about one park, and the music was created completely with sounds recorded in or around the park. ‘A Concrete Pasture’, however, is built from sounds from all over the world, From the Dutch Wadden Island to a temple in Bangkok and traffic sounds out of Tokyo. It’s a bit like the Nits’ ‘In The Dutch Mountains’, which opens with ‘I was born in a valley of bricks’, which meant nothing more than a street with buildings on both sides. So, for me, the tension between the words ‘concrete’ and ‘pasture’ lies in that area.
Both sides of the vinyl can be listened to as a whole, even though side A is snipped into three chapters. “Cuore Nero” has a classical/ambient approach, ‘Unseen Shores’ reminds me of a wind ornament on the deck of a house close to the sea. But it sounds a bit weird because there is hardly any reverb close to the sea, and this track is the opposite. Side a closes with ‘Phra Buddhasaiyas’ based on the previously mentioned field recordings in a temple in Bangkok with additional layers of guitar ambience. The B side only has one track, called ‘Kraaiennest” / Crow’s nest, the meaning of which is the same in Dutch and English: The lookout point at the top of a ship and the bird’s nest. The 20-minute track starts with the sound of traffic lights in Tokyo, and slowly, some classical instrument-sounding sounds are added to the composition with additional waves from the sea. A massive drone is the result, which leaves you with an uneasy feeling. Maybe that feeling is the same as that tension between ‘concrete’ and ‘pasture’. The saxophone of Coen Oscar closes the album, which sounds a bit ‘off’ in the composition. But it’s another one for the books from our favourite little label from Amsterdam! (BW)
In 2020, Coen Oscar Polack surprised many with his Haarlemmerhout release, named after inspired by the park with the same name – including local field recordings with additional atmospheric layering.
A Concrete Pasture expands on this idea, but this time the recordings come from different locations such as Schiermonnikoog (one of the Dutch islands), Hong Kong, Bangkok, and possibly even more.
The opening track Cuore Nero with its fairly loud ‘powerchords’ acts like a statement telling us not to expect any ‘documentary-style’ of the isolated field recordings: it’s better to approach what comes next as an orchestrated composition. The field recordings are treated as if they were one of the instruments; Polack adds many different layers of sound to create a musical composition around them.
This way, Polack is ‘balancing natural textures with synthetic and instrumental sounds […] giving a meaning to a music that is liberated of its formalities and charged with a poignant imagery by transformation.’
And that can get rather intense, as can be heard in the way the drone builds up in the 20-minute Kraaiennest, before it morphs into a bagpipe-like sound and closes with a tenor-sax solo.
Coen Oscar Polack, ook hier en daar opduikend in Living Ornaments en Psychon en baas van Narrominded waarop zijn werk werd uitgebracht, tot hij besloot met Haarlemmerhout (2020) te verkassen naar Moving Furniture.
Haarlemmerhout vonden we zelf een zeer geslaagde excursie in het assembleren van geluiden die Polack had verzameld in het park in Haarlem waarnaar het album is vernoemd en dat bij hem om de hoek is gelegen. Een geluidscollage van een volleerd geluidstovenaar. Met A Concrete Pasture verruimt hij zijn blikveld en integreert geluiden van over de hele aardbol.
Verkeersgeluiden uit Tokio gaan de concurrentie aan met de Waddeneilanden of een Thaise tempel. Dat zorgt voor een bredere belevingswereld die Polack heel goed in een verhaal weet om te zetten.
De a-kant is versneden in drie stukken maar kan eigenlijk gewoon als één geheel worden beluisterd, als een avontuurlijke wereldreis geruggensteund door een intrigerende waaier aan geluiden. Inventief gebruik van veldopnames en stemmen (zijn kinderen, aan het ravotten op het eiland Schiermonnikoog) zorgt voor een soort luisterspel / soundscape die heel geschikt kan zijn voor trein- of andere reizigers.
Het stuk op de b-kant heet Kraaiennest, een term uit de scheepvaart. Het platform in de mast van een schip laat vermoeden dat de blik wijd mag worden opengezet over weidse vlakten water of lucht. Het stuk vangt aan met verkeersgeluiden uit Tokio en ontpopt zich tot een volwaardige drone die naar het einde toe wordt voorzien van wat garnituur middels de saxofoon die Polack bespeelt.
Het album is in zijn geheel een geslaagde reflectie op het alledaagse bestaan gezien door de ogen van een persoon die oog heeft voor de kleinste details en er een auditieve wereld mee weet te creëren.
Vinyl LP limited to 300 copies or digital available in our webshop
Or find the album in your prefered streaming service here: https://orcd.co/cop_aconcretepasture
Coen Oscar Polack
Coen Oscar Polack balances natural textures with synthetic and instrumental sounds in his work as a recording artist. He works in album format and in collaborative projects, and performs in concert settings and site-specific installations. His work is released through Moving Furniture Records. He lives in Haarlem, The Netherlands.