My new album Un Cœur, Deux Cœurs, Un Cœur, Sans Cœur on Broken20 is out now.


For now you can buy it through the Broken20 store, I will get my copies soon (and will post about that).

Some words about the album:

Orphax is the recording name of Sietse van Erve, a solo minimal drone musician based in Amsterdam. Sietse has been creating his experimental sound since 1998 and has run the Moving Furniture Records label since 2008. Not to be confused with techno duo Orphx, Van Erve’s music is of an altogether calmer nature, but his output is nonetheless challenging and energising in equal measure. 

His Broken20 debut takes the form of two long-form drone pieces, ‘Un Couer, Deux Couer’ and ‘Un Couer, Sans Couer’. The opening track draws the listener in with gentle chords that could be from guitar, organ or sampled machinery, slowly pulsing and calling to mind the likes of minimalist forebears Charlemagne Palestine and Terry Riley. High-pitched waves enter, the first suggestions of feedback; they’re joined by what appear to be bicycle bells that build to a cacophony, rattling inside the ears with life and urgency. Feedback and volume build on ever-increasing layers in spiritual cleansing as dissonant chords jar in adjoining sections and then dominate, until the bells and higher feedback tones return, calming gradually to a single held note and then silence. 

At the piece’s end, one is struck by the vast change that has occurred throughout its nineteen minutes. ‘Un Couer, Deux Couers’ is glacial, its movement undetectable in the short term but, viewed from a wider perspective, dynamic and sprawling. 

‘Un Couer, Sans Couer’ is the longer piece, beginning with a slow single note crescendo that suddenly plays with tuning to subvert the expectations the listener has independently accrued in its first three minutes. Glitched and picked guitar notes hint towards van Erve’s love of avant garde folk music, before top range drifts and slow-moving phases provide texture. Shades of juxtaposed semitonal tension and a piercing violin tone ramp up the strain before the waves break into shards of guitar and soothing low tones. Ligetian dissonance rejoins the fray and hyper-pitched howls close matters. 

This second track frequently harks back to that single held note; it thus evokes a different topography, perhaps of a strange archipelago whose islands are traversed one by one, returning each time to a central port before branching out again until the final journey leads ever outwards.

Some reviews:

Vital Weekly:

Here are two pieces of music by Sietse van Erve, also known as Orphax, with two films by Erslaub, the man behind the Broken20 label. I can be short about the films: they are nice, but not really my thing to review. Slow moving images, water of sorts in one and the other I don’t know (leaves? shades? sand?), to which filters are applied and slow movements occur. It fits the music of Orphax quite nice. Orphax is a man of drones, digital drones, which he creates through the use of Audiomulch, modular software not dissimilar to Ableton, but a bit different. Here you can put in whatever you want, or even generate sounds yourself, and apply all sorts of treatments, which you can manipulate on the spot. Orphax usually brings on very few sounds, but expands wildly on them. He doesn’t play noise music with these but layers them together, applying microscopic variations to each parameter and bob’s y’r uncle. It sounds simple, perhaps it is simple, but Orphax does his job with great care. Both of these pieces are very similar, which is perhaps the downside of it, and my favorite is the second one ‘Un Coeur, Sans Coeur’. Here the organ like sounds gradually transform into bell-like sounds and there is even a shimmering melody down there somewhere. There is not a lot of ‘new’ insight in the world of drone music here, but especially that second piece is one I fall for.  (FdW)


Gonzo Circus:

Meer drones van de hand van Moving Furniture-baas Sietse van Erve, a.k.a. Orphax, die zich op deze dvd van zijn meest minimale kant laat zien. Op eerdere cd’s werden de grondtonen vaak afgezet tegen bewerkte omgevingsgeluiden, nog net herkenbare instrumenten en software-improvisaties, maar op ‘Un Cœur…’ krijgen drones vrij baan. Het eerste nummer is een opname van een optreden in de Amsterdamse OCCII, en vormt een mooie twintig minuten lange boog, die begint met wat klinkt als de eenzame, sonore grondtoon van een gitaar. Langzaam krijgt die gezelschap van steeds meer, en ook steeds hogere tonen. Eerst zijn dat nogal anonieme drones, maar gaandeweg komen er geluiden met meer karakter tevoorschijn, en ontstaat er bovenin het geluidsspectrum een spel van glasachtige loops. Zo bouwt Van Erve zijn compositie verder vol, waarbij hij er zorg voor draagt dat de gekoppelde en langzaam in elkaar overgaande geluiden mooi bij elkaar passen, en elkaar op een logische manier opvolgen. Het begeleidende beeld op de dvd (van de hand van Broken20-medewerker Erstlaub, gokken we) wordt gevormd door een hypnotiserend golvenpatroon dat er uit ziet als een zwart/wit-gesolariseerde ijsvlakte, maar de muziek leent zich misschien wel beter voor een avondje sterren staren. De tweede track volgt een vergelijkbare scenario, zij het met een veel donkerder inslag. In de eerste helft geven wat klinkt als gitaarklanken en -bijgeluiden de toch al dreigende tonen een postrockgevoel, al blijft de verwachte uitbarsting uit. Tegen het einde wisselt Van Erve vrij abrupt van toonaard, wat de hypnose een beetje breekt. Het eerste nummer is dan ook het prijsnummer.

door Maarten Schermer (juni 2013)


Lend Me Your Ears

They would say that, of course. But there’s nothing hyperbolic about the Broken20 hype machine calling Orphax‘s Un Coeur, Deux Coeurs, Un Coeur, Sans Coeur “extraordinarily beautiful”. It is, plainly – a delicate, spectral dance of minimal but insistent tones & trilling, jarring sounds that makes me want to garland its maker & see him lauded along the streets & canals of Amsterdam…


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