Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Skoulaman

Skoulaman: Fluxes in Philadelphia

Fluxes in Philadelphia

Fluxes in Philadelphia

Skoulaman: Fluxes in Philadelphia
Released: 26 October 2019

The Dutch Electronic Musician Hans van Kroonenburg chooses to make his life bigger through playing concerts as Skoulaman, and ours richer through the act of listening. His Fluxes in Philadelphia (71’45”) extends the fleeting connection of the concert venue through a live CD. Recorded on 18 May 2019 as part of The Gatherings Concert Series it reaches moods and emotions that a less adventurous contemporary instrumental music could ever possibly touch. Seated in the pews during this confident performance it was hard to recall the existential emptiness of modern life just beyond the reverberating sanctum. The seven tracks found on Fluxes in Philadelphia are examples of the Skoulaman live dynamic at its peak – living in the flow of the moment and simply playing to those assembled from the heart. With still sustaining synth pads supporting interlocked sequencer blips, rising keyboard lead lines converse with electric piano. In the ambient, more reflective zones the mind flows inward – with the focused, melodic, rhythmic sections leading us on a journey outward. When stirring up metallic glitter analogue synthesizers breathe ethereal tones. In an instant we hear the lyrical rush and rumbling of a coming time. With its celestial choirs, growling pads and delicate textures this work portrays a certain amount of drama – yet its delightful acceleration never disturbs the friendly and contemplative feel. With the sound expanded on two tracks by local electric guitarist Harrison McKay, the Skoulaman show took flight in midnight swirls and cloud nine bliss – and demonstrates the rare thing that may be felt when a unique talent, receptive audience and reverential air all converge in a unique sanctuary setting. This is a realization that could never be the mere distillation of several classics, as the unique and supportive atmosphere contributed so significantly. The conditions under which this music was made are of a factor that can never be replicated – a one-time-only moment for Skoulaman to hold forth and make his statement. Those at the performance could see the joy this man took in the act of playing music and creating something new. Through the release of Fluxes in Philadelphia everyone may now hear this joy. This event and album reminds us that the world is still full of beauty and kindness – and the musical realm Skoulaman creates is a place we should all aspire to live in.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END12 December 2019

Skoulaman: Next Step in Evolution

Next Step in Evolution

Next Step in Evolution

Skoulaman: Next Step in Evolution
Released: 31 March 2018

Whether you came to know the music of Skoulaman by watching the impressive collection of jam sessions and demonstrations on his Youtube channel, or through attending a live show, in the music of Hans van Kroonenburg we will find a pleasing outward motion. His album Next Step in Evolution (77’56”) contains six slow-paced sequencer improvisations that will hold our interest in melody as much as they do our intrigue with the mechanized pulse. That these excellent works were realized in real time live in the studio exhibits van Kroonenburg’s ability (and ear) for working in the heat of a fleeting moment. By concentrating on live concerts he perfected his skills in performance techniques and the musical journey. With its arching melodies and well-developed narrative element, Next Step in Evolution provides a pleasurable, low-wattage drift through an electronic sensory consonance. Setting airy strings next to rapid daubs of echoing arpeggio notes, each track develops and builds variably. Repeating synchronized tone patterns enter, once introduced by reverberant electric piano and luxuriant solo synth leads. By using a range of vintage and modern analog style synthesizers, van Kroonenburg has access to and immediate command over all layers and aspects of the music – as it is happening – yet, has the good artistic sense to occasionally simply stand back and savor an especially interesting pattern or pad that shimmers in the sound space. Next Step in Evolution may be admired for its originality, nevertheless it is still a recognizable continuation of the illustrious tradition of spontaneous composition. As much as he can hold forth in the live setting, it may be that van Kroonenburg’s greatest gift is in just waiting for the sounds to tell him what to do. However, no matter how deeply Skoulaman may become fully absorbed in realizing and conducting this music, were we able to look into his realm, we would find that the only person truly, fully in the magical space he creates are you and I – the listeners.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END12 April 2018

Skoulaman: Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past

Dreaming of the Future

Dreaming of the Future

Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past by Skoulaman
Released: 19 October 2014

The first Spacemusic produced back in the 1970s will always be referred to by fans as “The Classics”, but should really be thought of as “Part One”. Through artists like Skoulaman we may feel these pioneering albums reaching into the present. Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past (76’51”) thrums with its own vitality. Seemingly thrown together in a few live takes by Hans van Kroonenburg (recording as Skoulaman) his work is improbably resonant. Possessing a freewheeling immediacy this metrical music speaks to us in the voice of an old friend. The initiated will no doubt cite influences ranging from the heart-felt inventions of Vangelis and subtle cosmic energy of Free System Projekt to the sequencer wizardry of Steve Roach, Javi Canovas or Craig Padilla. With keyboards and modules astir staccato synthesizer blips play and echo in intriguing interlocking patterns – a cerebral beat embedded in the rolling melody. As vague flute tones ghostly shadow van Kroonenburg’s synth lead, minor-key strings sustain then shift in a heroic progression of chords; which adds a different kind of motion across the field of dancing and bobbing electronic notes. There is a huge gap between the people who understand these musical forces and the rest of us. On Dreaming of the Future Reflecting the Past listeners get to hear this man’s wild gift. If this music is a code, then it is so only to encourage our curiosity and stimulate thought. Establishing a continuous flux in perfect proportions Skoulaman helps push our brains to a higher level of integration. The pleasure in this music is as complicated as the music itself.

(Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END27 November 2014)