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Remco Helbers "On Some Road" CD
Wow!!! I simply can't start with any other words. What a well-hidden masterwork by an ambient guitar dronescaper Remco Helbers!!! This Dutchman is also known as one of the members of ambient/dhrupad/trance project Chalnat. This little gem of art was already self-released by Remco on physical CD back in 2002 (!!!) and it's a best example there is no justice in music industry!!! Certainly big shame on me for not exploring this jewel much sooner. Yeah, I still keep in mind when searching infos about Chalnat and discographies about each member popped up, but unfortunately in Dutch only, so I somehow didn't pay any deeper attention to them. Otherwise I would be able to get at least some hint on Remco Helbers', I believe, debut solo album. So I had to wait until Forrest Fang has brought this stunningly gorgeous album to the light some weeks ago (huge thanks, Forrest!!!). Some additional background info on this recording, the music was inspired by paintings of London-based abstract painter John Kimber, who met Remco Helbers during a Guitar-Craft course led by Robert Fripp in 1998. Each of the seven tracks is represented by a painting, all of them are printed on the 8-panel front insert. Except Remco Helbers and John Kimber, credit goes also to Sid Smith for the liner notes (he was an attendee of the same course). This music was firstly presented on the opening night of an exhibition of John Kimber's paintings in July 2001 at the Long Gallery at Lauderdale House in London. I should add that "On Some Road" album was digitally re-released in 2015 on Turmoil Music label.
Equipped with Chapman Grand Stick, bells, bowls and sampler, "On Some Road" journey unfolds with 7-minute "Urban Nightscape II". A truly gracious and warm dronescape magnified with filigree mindscaping flickerings invades, drifts and meanders through gorgeously expansive nocturnal vistas and glimpses. What a beauty!!! The listener is immediately bathed in an ultimate looped atmospheric elixir, a pure drone magic virtuosically executed by Remco Helbers!!! "A Kinder Blue IV" holds its magnificently embracing dimension, masterfully counterpointing balmy rises and ebbs with intangibly reverberating helixes. Euphoniously evocative, yet meticulously dissonant, certainly another superb composition!!! Its companion "A Kinder Blue II" safely keeps on billowing path, where it exquisitely merges insistently pinnacling cinematic horizons, elusive bell contemplations and peculiarly traversing tapestries. Immensely reflective dronendeavour!!! "Floating In Sequence II", with 3 and a half minutes minutes the shortest piece on the album, seems to be the most enigmatic composition so far, where circling stringed patterns continuously interplay with slowly emerging and expressively weeping panoramas, while remotely ethereal bells surreptitiously sneak in. On the contrary the following cut, "Cathedral I" clocks to 9-minute mark as the longest track "On Some Road". The title couldn't be chosen more precise, my listening room is invaded by gracefully immense washes, which are persistently permeated by hauntingly reverberant reminiscences. Sublimely monumental, yet splendid mindscapes are endlessly carved and commingle with abstract images revealed by sunlight filtered through stained glass windows. Another intense drone tour de force, bravo, Remco!!! "Obsession I" delves deeply into shadowy unfathomable depths, where undulating, rather monochromatic drone is relentlessly confronted with ear-tickling transcendental meridians. Oracular "Floating In Sequence II" is easily surpassed, a journey beyond the gates awaits here, enter now!!! The closing "Dragon III", another longer piece clocking to nearly 9 minutes, remains safely on the path guided by tenebrously sculpted scenario pervaded by intriguing resonances, occasionally augmented by cinematic climaxes and meditative glimmers. A very strong outro indeed!!!
This is an utterly jaw-dropping, over 49 minutes long listening exploration, I still can't believe... And I keep on wondering how could I miss such masterwork for many many years. But anyway, always better later than never!!! As I have found lately, this album received handful of very positive reviews during 2002, but unfortunately it still remains criminally unexposed. As informed by Remco, he still has boxes with this CD, which was a result of bad experiences with some distributors back in the days when he started with his label. So he quickly became disillusioned about this kind of business and because at the same time he was moving into his studies about stringed instruments of the Hindustani classical music like surbahar (bass sitar) and rudra veena, "On Some Road" CD is still a strongly undiscovered jewel. Yeah, the future offerings by Remco Helbers might sound quite different, but I don't mind, because he is an exceptionally gifted artist!!! I definitely will keep an ear out for his next soundsculptings. So it's quite obvious an epic "On Some Road" CD gets my highest recommendation!!!
Richard Gürtler (Jul 27, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)