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L'OPUS L'H (LP) (2010)

The most recent release by a Dutch artist very much locked into his own personal mission to express himself via non-musical objects as much as instruments such as the harmonium and tuba. Since the beginning of the decade, he has been releasing low-run vinyl and CDr editions of his work, often in special packaging via his own Le Souffleur imprint and wholly dedicated to a pure artistic approach rarely found these days. Over the two sides of this entry in Dijkstra’s Opus series of releases, we are treated to a hypnotic yet wheezy harmonium and all manner of mostly subtle and perfectly suited scrapes, clanks and screeches sourced, it seems like, from glass and wood. Organic and rich in movement, the entire listening experience is a mesmerising one that leaves one gasping for more. Limited to 300 also, this has desirability stamped all over it. Beautiful. (Richard Johnson)(Adverse Effect)

Dutch musician, painter and sculptor Raymond Dijkstra has released more than 40 vinyl records on his own Le Souffleur label, often in extremely limited art editions, but this is his first widely available release since his collaboration in 2003 with Timo van Luyck under the name Asra. It's no coincidence that van Luyck has worked with Nurse With Wound: here, Dijkstra pursues a mutual fascination with surrealism, working in an improvised context that he likens to the surrealists' practice of trance-like 'automatic writing'.
To achieve this, he confines himself to working within a rigidly narrow framework, constructing a tense and slightly sinister soundworld out of harmonium blurts, tuba snorts, agitated piano strings and the application of carefully controlled tape echo. Those muted knocks and rattles are highly reminiscent of Sun Ra's similarly echo-laden Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy, and it's worthwhile to note that L'opus L'H is the second title in Dijkstra's series The advantages Of Schizophrenia. Just as Ra was hinting at exploring an inner other-world, so Dijkstra is engaged in the therapeutic exploration of a highly personal internal universe. The sounds advance and recede in waves of urgency, like traces of intensifying and diminishing moods of alienation.
If, at times, it's gratingly unmusical it nevertheless grips the attention with it's grimly focussed monomania - like an unguarded and oddly vulnerable statement of identity. It comes, of course, as absolutely no surprise to discover that the second side of the record sounds exactly the same as the first. (Daniel Spicer)(The Wire)

Somebody asked me a difficult question, while looking at my record collection. "Which of the Raymond Dijkstra records is a must hear? His opus magnum?" I told my friend I didn't know, but that somehow I don't think Dijkstra would think along such lines, the high-light of his career. But true to the fact, if you are looking for an artist that switches his musical patterns then, Raymond Dijkstra is not your man. His new record, 'L'opus L'H', is no different than his old records. He plays tuba, organ, harmonium, glass objects, and all of that in a highly personal manner. Improvised, with the most minimal changes, no electronic processing of whatever kind. Just exactly as those… how many were there… ten at least… records before. But there is one difference: this is a record for every wallet. His older records are usually highly limited and therefore come with a price tag that is sometimes a big high. 'L'opus L'H' is however a record that comes in a bigger edition and no doubt reaches more people and why not? This is as a good as a place to get into the man's work. Not his opus magnum, but maintaining his quality. (Frans de Waard)(Vital)

Dutch artist/musician Raymond Dijkstra is one of the most radical and original composers around today. With a clear DIY ethos and self-imposed restrictions he has created a singular universe all by himself. In the past 7 years he has (self-)released countless LP's, 7" , 5" & 3" Vinyl releases in very tiny editions on his Le Souffleur label, all packaged in carefully edited artworks made by Dijkstra himself.
"L'Opus L'H" will be one of his first widely available releases since 2003's collaboration with Timo van Luijk (Af Ursin, Noise Maker's Fifes, In Camera, Nurse With Wound) as Asra.
Dijkstra is using a minimal set-up for all of his compositions: harmonium, scraping metal & glass, and, exclusively to his "Opus" cycle the addition of tuba, strings and audio effects. He's exploring these small parameters in an improvised and highly personal, often trance-like, ecstatic setting comparable to "Automatic Writing" or "Surrealist Automatism" techniques. By offensively restricting and repeating his methods he is able to profoundly explore the depths of the particular sounds and, not least, of the player/composer's psyche itself.(Dekorder)

DE SCHROEF (LP) (2009)

Raymond has been releasing odd and sometimes luxurious editions of his music for some years now. This is a rather bare bones release with a sheet of printed newspaper with the titles, etc. and the record in a heavy plastic bag. Dijkstra’s style, wheezy harmonium with an amplified and effected metal scratching on glass sound, is present, but broken up into short fragments followed by silence and a lock groove, then repeated. Five short pieces on each side. A perplexing release and a great art record. (Scott Foust)(Swill radio)

Perhaps our most beloved outsider in experimental music. Raymond Dijkstra never ceases to amaze me. 'De Schroef' ('the screw') is his biggest edition so far (I think), limited to 200 copies. That's not the only chance here. The music is ten pieces of maybe one minute to 90 seconds, ending in a silent lock groove and with lots of blank space in between those pieces. Meaning you have to get up to place the stylus into the next piece. Most odd. It doesn't end there. Each of the pieces seems to be a variation on the same theme. An organ/harmonium sound, scraping of glass; all done rapidly. But the proceedings are short and one is left to think its the same thing, but perhaps its not. That's the great thing about releases by Raymond Dijkstra. It leaves an endless amount of thinking about it. Is it same, or different? Why is it cut like this? Poetry. I think Dijkstra offers us sound poetry. Without words, but these ten poems are variations on a few sounds. It will surely annoy a few listeners, but no doubt the true fans of Dijkstra - count me in there - are amazed. Once again. The great outsider. (Frans de Waard)(Vital)

May 2009 release ; always glad to be able to offer a new raymond dijkstra work here @ mms ... in this case, a suite of 10 1-minute pieces (scored for his now-familiar orchestra of pump-organ & screeching metals) “separated by a lock groove and a blank (grooveless) space” ...
A spartan edition (just a printed sheet of recycled newspaper in a sleeve w/ the record) but the innate complexity of both the included music (as obfuscating as ever) & it’s presentation (each piece is an island, beginning & ending in silent locked grooves with no lead-in / lead-out to speak of ; manual needle placement is necessary to advance to each new segment) makes it worth all the while ... highly recommended !!!(Keith Fullerton Whitman Mimaroglu)

L'OPUS CH (LP) (2009)

Since 2003 Dutch painter, musician and sculptor Raymond Dijkstra has put out more than 40 releases on his Le Souffleur label, in a range of formats (LP, 10", 7", 5", and 3" vinyl), under his own name and a variety of pseudonyms (Ki Sync Pulse, Razoul Üzlü, Dadaphon). All are very limited art editions, whose sleeves feature his drawing and painting, and are priced accordingly. Dijkstra's lack of profile and insistence on working in isolation make it tempting to classify his work as a form of outsider art. He has certainly evolved an unusual and relatively unique approach. The few of his albums I've been able to hear sound like nothing else around - organ loops, metal scrapings and string scratchings are crafted through insistent repetition and crude manipulations into totally self-contained and obsessively insular soundworlds. L'opus Ch and De Fazant are his two most recent releases. The more substantial L'opus Ch serves up two sidelong tracks, both primitive improvisational collages, at times indistinguishable from each other. A small range of sounds is repeatedly distressed, forced into meandering, circular patterns, with little in the way of development or progression - unidentifiable tinny scrapings are filtered through echo and delay effects while what sound like a pump organ creakily chunters away in the background. Like much of Dijkstra's music, it's at once futile and profound. (Nick Cain)(The wire)

Sometimes one should really believe the hype. I'd read raving reviews of this guy's albums and they sounded like exactly the kind of thing that I would enjoy. And still I resisted checking them out, who knows why. Maybe I was worried about being conned into buying something that would turn out to be just the latest flavour-of-the-month. The fact that the albums were issued at a terrifying pace in very small and exorbitantly expensive hand-made editions did not help either, it all sounded like a case of style over substance to me. Turns out my fears were completely unfounded and I have been missing out on some of the greatest sounds in recent history!
This is the regular edition reissue of a disc that was originally released as a hand-made art edition of 50 copies. Now there are 300 copies of these things and luckily they go for standard LP prices. The cover is fairly unassuming, a greyscale collage of cut-up photographs printed on a nice rough-quality cardboard. My first impression when the vinyl starts to spin is of low-key improv with various analogue instruments and objects. There's piano in there, along with what sounds like a tuba, a harp, some type of harmonium and various metal artefacts being rubbed, rattled and abused. And then it hits me, he's not really improvising in the normal sense, there is a definite structure built into the piece, both on micro- and macroscales. Instead of exploring the soundscape he's creating an otherworldly structure that moves deftly in time and place. There's also a rhythm of sorts, maybe more implicit then explicit, like a gentle human pulsation that runs through the whole album. Each sound is carefully caressed into existence, slowly brought fort out of mystery and then freed to decay into the acoustic domain. Slight changes in tempo take place once in a while and we witness small scale eruptions of dynamic tension. Generous amounts of echo generate an impression of space, but clearly of the imaginary type. There is no beginning and no end, instead we are trapped inside a grand structure of infinite dimensions. What remains for us to do is to flip the vinyl, over and over again. Like being trapped on the surface of a Möbius strip, if you excuse the cliché. The sounds are coated in such a strange magical shimmer, it's almost impossible to stop listening. Some of David Jackman's work might serve as superficial reference points, something like Up from Zero or Kammer (Organum) But whereas Jackman always strives for harmony (even at his noisiest), Dijkstra seems to take pleasure from minute disturbances and revolts, creating a sort of micro-harshness. One could even draw meaningful comparisons between this and The New Blockaders (especially Changez Les Blockeurs). L'opus Ch is not quite as noisy and hectic on the surface but somehow the definition of music (anti- or otherwise) is stretched as far back in both cases. Maybe TNB strive more for the immediate impact and Dijkstra takes detours to achieve the same outcome.
Very highly recommended, true echelon stuff. Immediately upon hearing this I spent almost 100 euros on this guys other releases... (Markus Metsälä)(Special interests)

I’ve only heard a handful of Raymond Dijkstra’s LPs and none of his expensive art editions, but Opus CH would definitely be my favourite. Most of the other music I’ve heard has been denser and a little noisier, with a certain alien approach that brought to mind both Topography Of The Lungs and the first New Blockaders LP. Opus CH is a slightly different pie. Whilst retaining the squeaky electronics, the acoustic sounds (a harmonium and maybe a horn) are brought to the fore, creating a heavy atmosphere that lasts from beginning to end. Opus CH also has more of a repetitive nature allowing the listener to luxuriate in the strange and compelling sound world. A powerful statement. Excellent production and pressing too. Go for it! (Scott Foust)(Swill radio)

Perhaps a lengthy introduction, but please bear with me. On Friday 27 March 2009 Extrapool Nijmegen staged another one of their "Audiotoop" evenings. The idea of Audiotoop is that artists from various disciplines create a radio play especially composed for the evening of the performance. This Audiotoop saw a performance of Edward Ka-spel and Silverman (of the Legendary Pink Dots) who staged spoken word pieces with added soundscapes created by Silverman. Quite wonderful. After their performance ASRA was next; a collaboration between Timo van Luijk and Raymond Dijkstra. I was really looking forward to their performance as I hold both musicians in high esteem. The stage was scattered with a lot of small acoustic instruments, a piano and a tuba. Together they performed the best live set I have heard in a long time. Beautiful, spacious music with respect for all individual sounds and both performers. The reason for this introduction is the fact that that night I bought the new Raymond Dijkstra LP L'opus CH. Another reason is that when I came home and played the record the following day, something of the magic of that performance appeared to be also etched in the grooves of this record. I have all Raymond Dijkstra LP's so I know his music well. For un-initiated ears his records might sound "all the same", but that is not the case. His music carefully and gradually develops and Dijkstra documents this process in his records. Interestingly enough this works well. L'opus CH (attractively packed in a handmade cover; made of old newspaper fragments stuck to the cover) is a new step in Dijkstra's development. The instruments used on this album include piano and tuba amongst his more regular set up. More relaxed, more open than ever this is one of my favorite records from the past few months. Not just a record for those "in the know", but certainly one for everyone who appreciates beautiful music. As only 50 copies were pressed, I suggest a certain haste in contacting his label Le Souffleur. (Freek Kinkelaar)(Vital)

DE HAMER (LP) (2008)
DE LARF (LP) (2008)

Here, on two new records Dijkstra continues to explore his own sound empire a bit further, with again subtle differences. 'De Hamer' seems to be richer in sound than 'De Larf' for instance, which is more sparse. Whereas 'De Hamer' seems to be having organ/harmonium sounds, 'De Larf' has small points of silence and the sounds are more stereo separated. In both works the glass sounds are again the leading instrument. 'De Larf' is the more minimal record and asks more from the listener than 'De Hamer', as this is a highly concentrated play on sound versus silence, or silence and sound. True Dijkstra fans, and count me in, will love this total outsider music, free of any pressure or need for a change and will love the building of this extended catalogue of sound. For those who think 'heard one, heard all', these two records may bring nothing else, but then surely you didn't pay enough attention. I think they are great. (
Frans de Waard)(Vital)

DE GEDACHTE (LP Box) (2008)
DE GELOFTE (LP Box) (2008)

Of course I don't like using swear words, but I do use them, usually English ones. 'Fucking Hell' is what escaped my mouth when I opened the latest box by Le Souffleur, the label that almost entirely releases the music of its owner Raymond Dijkstra. Two identical carton boxes (which were, oddly enough, called 'cassettes' in the days of classical music) of which the top lid has red velvet with gold print. Inside athin piece of paper with the same information and design. One record is called 'De Gedachte' ('the thought') and one is 'De Gelofte' ('the vow'). That's about as far as details go these two records. Like with his previous works, there is a strong similarity between these two new records, and with the previous releases, but there is an important difference too. Dijkstra moves glass over glass, while a sort of harmonium plays sparse notes. That is the same as before, but the harmonium playing seems to be lesser than on the previous records. It places an accent and nothing much else. The glass-on-glass is also more sparse and there is a total lack of sound effects - before it was an old 'space echo' machine, here it's entirely gone. I must say that these perhaps minor changes sound like 'nothing' to you, but for me it marks some essential differences. This is almost total acoustic music, of carefully scraping, scratching and touching of surfaces. Like before there are great similarities between the two records now available, but I don't think, in an Organum twist or turn, Dijkstra is playing the same piece twice, like a strict repeat. More over, I think he actually does play the same piece twice, but that he executes the two pieces in slightly different ways - just as a classical piece of music is never the same thing twice. Panta Rhei is what moves Dijkstra - everything flows. His music is like a river. It seems the same, but it never really is. Another two, great pieces of vinyl, and a very consistent oeuvre is built here. (
Frans de Waard)(Vital)