5 (Ambiences)

Roel Meelkop

The music of 5 (Ambiences) deals with ways of approaching and conceptualizing ambient sound, of abstracting sounds from the world until they become much more than documentary observations. The music plays with some referential material (are they field recordings? digitally generated? does it matter?), a very wide dynamic range (to encourage active listening), evocative and even dramatic structures but also forbiddingly impersonal distance. It toys with the notion of “ambient music” (as new age wallpaper) by using ambiences to create deeply involving compositions which change as one changes one’s listening focus. This music is open to any interpretation, or no interpretation at all.

When Roel Meelkop creates a new CD, he considers anything other than the music to be a distraction from the point at which a listener apprehends a sonic experience and generates his or her own meaning. Previous albums have not included any images, text, biographic information, or even titles. This sort of presentation could be misinterpreted as willful obscurity, but quite the opposite is intended. By the composer’s reasoning, the music on the CD is exactly and only what the listener hears; richness then arises from the act of listening. On this new disc, the artist deviates somewhat from his previous pattern. At Intransitive’s urging, he wrote a bit of text to describe his thoughts about composition and listening, if not this album in particular. This may not seem like much, but for Meelkop it is a major concession. For the first time, this artist who has hardly given any interviews, whose philosophy, while quite straightforward, has been implied but never directly described, has given listeners a way in to his sound world. Which says nothing of what that world contains…