You could be cynical and say Goldblum is yet another instance of Rotterdam’s clubby “underground” music scene. The duo consists of Marijn Verbiesen (aka Red Brut and Sex Swing) who brings lyrics, vocals, keyboards, bells, harmonica and contact mic to the party. Michiel Klein (he of Lewsberg, Sex Swing, GEO and a million other great Dutch bands) contributes tape loops, keyboards, effects, montage and a mix. The pair have made an LP, Of Feathers and Bones, released on the avant-garde Benelux label KRAAK. This kind of activity may sound awfully worthy and very much the sport of thing we expect in these serious times, but what Goldblum has made with Of Feathers and Bones is very special; a tricksy, unnerving and ultimately triumphant slice of avant-garde pop music that is a lot of fun to listen to.
Of Feathers and Bones is actually a very exciting record, with moments that are unnervingly catchy. At times the music reminds me of Estonian synth pranksters, Cubus Larvik and their very naughty take on the Wicker Man soundtrack: at others the more esoteric slices from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, or White Noise. The music often feels full of humour; second cut, ‘A Face Appeared’, builds around a wonderful warped slide guitar lick which is content to prop up a vocal part that apes someone drunkenly singing along in another room. The piece continues to plod round and round the same riff, as if chained to it. The background tinkles (which act as a sonic pacemaker) bring Cluster’s Zuckerzeit to mind. By the end we have a set of sleigh bell jingles that could be a bastardisation of the BBC score of A Box of Delights. It’s a beautiful listen. ‘Innerlijke Stemmen’ is, by contrast, a nightmare take on the Valerie and Her Week of Wonders soundtrack; the groans and religiosity balanced against what sounds like a synthesized game of ping pong.
This record is a whole trip, often seamless and with a clear sense of mission. A symphony, if you must. This starts to be apparent by track three, ‘De Druif’, which is a lovely piece of 60s incidental music driven by a simple recording of what sounds like a butchered flute sample. Verbiesen deadpans and the track carries on its interminable course until it changes title to ‘Fata Morgana’ and signals the change by inviting an opera singer and a mouth organ join in the fun. This ensemble carries on, courtesy of various wheezes, gurgles and gasps, for a further five minutes until it rolls down a hill and crashes. ‘Alpha & the Omega’ deep throats a reprieve for those still dusting themselves down from the experience. This may sound like utter nonsense but the music is actually very exciting.
So smooth a listen is Of Feathers and Bones, you may feel cast adrift. The record has marked hallucinatory qualities. With ‘First Child’ I’m reminded of DC Pierre, but a DC Pierre who has taken ketamine. The Leonared Cohen sample on ‘That’s Where the Light Gets In’ is as you have never heard him before and the superb segue from Len to the laid back track, ‘Night Time’, courtesy of a smoky tenor sax to what may be Rick’s Café (albeit one where Sam plays a Swanee whistle) is a wonderful moment. Fun, invigorating, and challenging in just the right amounts. It’s also far too short. This may be one of the key releases in the Netherlands this year.