Piiptsjilling – Wurdskrieme
Wurdskrieme is one of two new releases from Piiptsjilling, a quartet that is formed of Jan and Romke Kleefstra, Mariska Baars and Rutger Zuydervelt. The name Piiptsjilling (pronounced ‘peep-chilling’) is Frisian; a language which Jan Kleefstra uses for the poetry he reads to accompany the improvised sonic worlds that the remaining three members create with guitars, effects, loopers and the voice…
In March 2010 the band took to an intensive 2-day improvised recording session with the goal of creating nothing more than beautiful, challenging music. The session resulted in two-and-a-half hours of material which was mixed and edited into two separate albums. Did they succeed with their simple goal? Yes. Yes they did.
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Piiptsjilling’s first album, self-titled and released in 2008, was a fairly post-rock induced affair with weeping guitars and suppressed desperation by the bucket-load. This time around, the post-rock influence has disappeared and the guitars, at times, are used as a percussion instrument in a prepared- style à la Keith Rowe on tracks such as the graciously atmospheric Sangerjende wyn and Utsakke bui.
As Wurdskrieme unfolds, one thing that is noticeable is that the poetry seamlessly becomes one with the atmospheres created by the band. Becoming part of the soundscape rather than clumsily resting on top. At times in their debut the voice seemed to act as a controlling factor, regulating the sound and almost giving it permission to start, stop and evolve. No doubt an interesting discovery; but this could all too easily pull the listener out of their sound induced coma.
The album is full-to-the-brim with the usual electroacoustic ambient loveliness; guitars, drones, the voice, field recordings, blips and glitches help to create an album with somewhat of a bi-polar disease; sometimes thickly laden and sometimes sparsely scattered with tiny sounds. It really is a feast for the ears that doesn’t do much wrong in its near on 40 minute run time.
Even though this is essentially an improvised body of work – except for the mixing of course – it really doesn’t sound so. Every movement really does seem carefully orchestrated from start to finish. Wurch ljocht is a good example; as the track fills with layer upon layer of sound everything ceases in the final seconds to allow a three-note cadence to shine through. Of course something like this could oh-so-easily be done in the mixing stage, but it’s nice to think that there was at least a glimmer of planned performance behind this improvisational body of work.
Ferware is the album highlight and shows the band at their most in-sync on the record. The track rolls along serenely, and what starts as a beautiful thing soon sinks into ominous nightmare territory where Jan’s poetry awaits to lull the listener into a vulnerable state of wonder.
Piiptsjilling have managed to create a wonderfully coherent album with Wurdskrieme that no doubt manages to hold the listener’s attention for the duration – something that their debut struggled with slightly at certain points. They’ve also successfully created an improvisation set that sounds orchestrated; it truly sounds as if each performer listened intently to what the others were creating which oftentimes is the downfall of most improvisation troops.