Driftmachine performs Massive Trance on a 15.3 sound system at De School (Amsterdam)

Jeroen Vermandere presents 'Massive Trance' Interpreted by Driftmachine

Jeroen Vermandere invites the Berlin-based duo Driftmachine to interpret the instructions of "Massive Trance", a cassette from 1983. Marien van Oers (1955-2013) made the cassette with the following protocol: "The basic idea of the performance is experiencing a constant repetition of sound (=rhythm), which can result in the spectator taking action through movement or getting into a form of trance." Marien van Oers was mainly known for his one-person group Het Zweet, active from 1983 to about 1988. His percussion-based pieces that were all but industrial: the self- built instruments and repetitive chanting aim to achieve a physicality that is closer to tribal music.

With this performance, the aim is not to blindly restage the original recording of Van Oers, but to actively reinterpret the piece by tweaking its protocol. Instead of dogmatically following the instructions, Vermandere takes the ultimate aim of the piece (attaining trance) as a starting point, to then work his way back to craft a space for different rhythms, tempos and sounds. He invited Driftmachine to play their self-built instruments and modular equipment to reach the essence of trance — a constant repetition, but one consisting of organic syncopations. Against the controllable grid of midi, in this modular setting things will drift away, pop up again to finally disappear entirely. Trance=repetition, but to arrive at another state of consciousness, the instrument must first behave idiosyncratically — become human.

Normally music would behave as a painting: there is an ideal spot from which the totality of the work should be apprehended. If we equate stereo with seeing perspective with two eyes, then this 15.3 setup (15 different speakers and 3 subwoofers; all triggered independently) pushes the spatial logic of music to create a more sculptural force field. By creating a constant movement between speakers that all operate different sounds, we are forced to position ourselves in this immersive installation. There is no longer an ideal standpoint in this endless configuration of different sounds: sound becomes sculptural.

Vermandere tirelessly digs up the forgotten debris of Dutch cassette culture. He re-releases these forgotten tapes (lo-fi culture materialised in desolate objects) on vinyl on his label Ongehoord. The performance of the protocol of Marien van Oers stands in this line of actively reinterpreting a bygone cassette culture. The active interpretation forces us to look again at the original intentions, to look again at the original spirit of the work. As a distinct culture is conserved by adapting, tweaking and reshaping it, archiving becomes an artistic practice.

text: Laurens Otto

This project is supported by: Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst & De School.