Pieter Nooten - Haven
Since the late 1970s Pieter Nooten has worn several musical guises, most notably early 80s Dutch darkwave outfit Clan of Xymox. An exploration of early 90s dance culture led to age-old musical differences and the beginnings of a solo career. Bar some film soundtrack and advertisement work Nooten saw in the new century on a musical hiatus. Eventually, his renewed interest in producing music - mainly on a laptop - resulted in Here Is Why in 2010 and then Surround Us two years later. Both albums attempted to build an electronic melancholia that defies their laptop creation.
Haven is an extension of Nooten's career to date. It’s a double album based mainly on piano compositions, with some strings and an ambient electronica backing. The extended length of the album allows time to explore musical motifs, to revisit them adding new textures and depths. So far, so Brian Eno, or maybe a more downbeat Ulrich Schnauss. These tracks are contemplative, mournful but perhaps also not fully engaging. To get value from this album you have to really commit to immersing yourself into it. A casual listening with Pointless on mute on the TV, whilst kicking off another round of Bejewelled Blitz is not what this album needs - or deserves. Another introspective electronica album isn’t going to have every music fan banging doors down to get at it. But for those with an ear for such, or maybe those curious to let something thoughtful, inventive and reflective into their lives then they should make this their next musical haven.