MYSTERY SEA 31 | erratic | [the invisible landscape]


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-"That which, in the language of religion, is called "this world" is the universe of reduced awareness, expressed, and, as it were, petrified by language. The various "other worlds", with which human beings erratically make contact are so many elements in the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large."

-Aldous Huxley, '
The Doors of Perception' (1954)


Belgian sound "gardener" Jan Robbe has a deep interest in cultivating various aural forms, sculpting them carefully into pieces possessing their own mood... Following their course, he then works under a series of pseudonyms, each being the expression of a different style...
So, UNDACOVA, the earliest one, mixes his electronic & rhythmic facets... DUNCAN AVOID, is a collaboration with KAEBIN YIELD of a more abstract nature, but still rhythm oriented... XE PHALANX is a group of electronic musicians & allied artists, cooperating together to condense sound fragments into a global quasi filmic approach... and finally ERRATIC which is the vehicle for a more personal exploration of the psyche, and its imaginary corollaries... Jan is also the founder of the respectable ENTITY netlabel, an inspired graphic artist, and a meticulous sound engineer...

For MS, Jan Robbe becomes ERRATIC to offer us a detailed psychogeographic journey, combining extreme inner sensations, transformed visions & enhanced perception...
"The invisible landscape" surges unexpectedly when turned into yourself...
Imagine its first nascent breath amongst the tall waving grass, through the insect talk, coming from an out of reach subterranean source, mirroring there its most secret & vibrant stream...
Along the process, seen things acquire an extra dimension, gaining new colours, outlines & contrasts...
"The invisible landscape" is the key to an undrawn filigree map, your access to a certain clairvoyance at a smaller scale...
Simply close your eyes, lay an ear to the ground, listen to the flux below and fade away in unison with a retranscribed world...


01. superfluid > listen !
02. the invisible landscape part 1 -
inspiring expiring
03. the invisible landscape part 2 -
mysterium tremendum
> listen !
04. the invisible landscape part 3 -
tidal waves of transfiguration
05. the invisible landscape part 4 -
diversionary disintegration
06. the invisible landscape part 5 -
hollow beholder

07. okaasan chi




VITAL WEEKLY 508|Frans De Waard
Of all the names used by Jan Robbe, I only name-checked Idle Sunder, and not Undacova, Duncan Avoid, Xe Phalanx, nor Erratic, which we are dealing with today, with his contribution to Mystery Sea. Unlike many others on the Mystery Sea label, Robbe plays not the usual, one or two long pieces, but has seven tracks to offer, in some fifty minutes. It's unclear what his sound input is, perhaps field recordings of sea and wind, or a rusty analog synths, but before it is put out again, it went through a myriad of sound effects, perhaps analog, perhaps digital. The sub-aquatic theme that runs through all the Mystery Sea releases (thirty-one and counting), is also present on this one. It gives the listener the idea of being under water, hearing everything like through a haze, a blurr. A ship passes overhead, metal collides, that sort of thing. Erratic plays the trick according to the book, making no mistakes, making no exceptions. This is drone music that is exactly what it is. Fine stuff, but with no real surprises.
vital weekly

Belgian sound artist Jan Robbe works under the Erratic pseudonym to explore the perilously slimy waters where dark ambient and musique concrete meet, places where dozens upon dozens of powerbook, loopstation, synthesizer, exotic instrument owners break all their bones when the music they believe "oh so deeply impacting" clashes against the crude reality of another hundred thousand albums like their own "masterpieces", the whole resulting in a bunch of meaningless music. But this is not the case: Robbe knows a thing or two about the different perspectives of event placement, applying a serious dose of skilled engineering to his creation. Although not exactly chilling, Erratic's pieces maintain a firm grip on the listener's attention; they are mostly well-connected, splendidly detailed cinematic soundscapes. In several moments of the title track series, the engrossing crescendo of alarming muffled frequencies introduces a slide show of impressive still lives and unclassifiable energies, underlined by a contrast with rustling noises and pre-recorded environmental sources that light up a candle of hope for the presence of someone in an otherwise distressing desolation. The final track "Okaasan chi" touches the heart gently with faint luminescences and superimposition of insects - of all things - that sound like they're reciting a supplication.
touching extremes

TOKAFI |Tobias Fischer  
Fleeing boredom and the tiny terrors of human existence is one important aspect of art. If a Finnish Hard Rock band can win the Eurovision Song Festival dressed up as ghouls and ghosts, then a large part of this success can be attributed to the fact that it simply seems much more fun building an entirely new and colourful world for yourself and others to live in (see also: myspace). Celebrating and elevating the little pleasures and the magic of every-day life is art’s second domain. On this disc by Belgian “sound gardener” Jan Robbe, both ideals come together in a seemless blend.
For Robbe, who has released music under a bunch of different pseudonyms and also runs the brilliant “entity” netlabel with a focus on nightly, atmospheric electronica, the collaboration with his compatriot Daniel Crokaert’s “Mystery Sea” outfit is therefore both a natural, as well as a daring one: While Daniel’s dark, dreamy and sometimes desolate drone depictations deliberately and decidedly drift into delicately otherworldly dimensions, Robbe’s vision is much more direct. In stark contrast to what its title might suggest, the “invisible landscape” is not some mystic place outside of our perception. Neither is it just a product of the mind. In fact, when listening with open ears, it will reveal itself to be more “real” than some of the things you read about in the papers. All of the seven pieces on the album, including the five-part title suite, work along the same pattern: Monochromatic spheres lurk in the background, whispering in unintelligible voices and gaping into the void. On top, there is a single layer of sound: Scraping, snapping, cracking, fistling, rustling, fizzing, fristling and hissing noises, with a field recording-feeling to them. These subtle sonorities are seldonly disturbed, unless for a good reason, such as in the intriguing finale of “Mysterium Tremendum”, where one has the impression, as if giant metallic bowls were being rubbed against each other. Listening to “the invisible landscape” is like looking through several transparencies, stretched over a nocturnal ocean – you have a sensation of total openness, yet it remains impossible to penetrate the final frontier. In some moments, this creates an eery and subcutaneously tinkling sensation, but for most of the time, the music is of an almost peaceful nature and seems to document unspectacular, yet somehow significant scenes: The milkman replacing an old bottle with a fresh one in some lazily awakening peasant village, wooden logs passing you by on the banks of a mist-covered stream, an old lady preparing tea in a heavy kettle over the fire, flies and bees buzzing round your head, as you lie in the grass and watch the clouds. These are archetypical and archaic pictures and they feel wonderfully familar. There is no conflict between escapism and every-day life here, simply because, as Robbe demonstrates, there is no contradiction. By running from mediocrity, “real” life can become much brighter and by enjoying the tiny details surrounding your every move, this earth unfolds into a perfect place. It is an image of the world as seen through the eyes of a blind man, wonderous and with an insatiable curiosity, and it serves to proove that the good things are just around the corner: Making the invisible become visible lies within the powers of your hands.

CHAIN D.L.K.|Eugenio Maggi
Rated : 4 stars out of 5
Behind Erratic hides Belgian soundmaker Jan Robbe, who is also active with different projects - both solo and collective - I haven't checked out yet (UndaCova, Duncan Avoid, xE Phalanx), as a talented designer and as the runner of the Entity netlabel. This ambient/drone project was born as "a personal quest to unify sound with thoughts and imaginary visual landscapes", and those mind visions must be some pretty scary ones judging from the results. Robbe carefully manipulated concrete recordings (there are a lot of insects in here for sure) and alien drones to weave these highly immersive soundscapes. Blurred images crawl in and out of the shadows, and the whole disc plunges you in a sort of underwater lucid dream. A possible reference could be Andrey Kiritchenko/Nihil Est Excellence's brilliant and undervalued "Vizmilieu", or López's "Azoic Zone". Wonderful subterrean drones.