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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Surpieze “Zeer Oude Klanken En Heel Rieuwe Geluiden” 1973 Dutch Private Hippie Psych Acid Blues


Surpieze “Zeer Oude Klanken En Heel Rieuwe Geluiden” 1973 Dutch Private Hippie Psych Acid Blues
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This curiously-titled record (Very Old Tones and Very New Sounds) is high on many want lists of psych collectors. For many years few collectors had actually heard the music, since only very few copies survived the mist of times and, as you will read, the hands of its creator. In the early 70’s guitarist/harmonica player Eddie van der Meer left his blues-based band Slack Gang to create the music, which he so clearly heard in his head. Recorded live over a two year period in various bedrooms and youth clubs without any overdubs, the album was privately released in 1972. As soon as the needle is put to the grooves you know you’re in for something truly special. Van der Meer plays an utterly unique combination of rambling spontaneous Delta-blues with avant-garde influences using a 3-string guitar. One moment this guitar wails à la Hendrix (albeit one with a Dutch accent) the next moment it almost whispers in a classical, violin and acoustic guitar duet. Van der Meer’s often improvised vocals are high pitched and meandering and at times it’s hard to make out the words. There’s experimentation with echo, delays and raga-type droning. In short, and in lack of a better term, this could be qualified as “outsider music” and, as such, is highly valued today. In 1972 however, Van der Meer’s proud album fell on stoney ground. Even though later reviews were not that bad, the first review to appear (in Aloha, the leading Dutch music magazines no less) was absolutely devastating. Referring to the album as “round and black with a hole in the middle, which is the only positive thing about it” and “an insult to the listener”, the review made Van der Meer lose all enthusiasm and confidence about his record. As a result he cycled to the Scheveningen beach (a distance of no less than 70 miles!) with his saddle bags stuffed with unsold copies of the album and threw them into the North sea! Copies of the album have survived in private collections and after many years, when interest in private pressings rose, the album surfaced again. Some 10 years ago Dutch label Grey Past re-released the album, which, this time, gained raving reviews from all over the world (including Julian Cope). These days Van der Meer is still around and even though he is a very withdrawn person, he must feel some vindication about the prices (and praise) his album fetches. Created by a free spirited mind, this album is an emotional rollercoaster, strange but, most importantly, utterly beautiful..by..freek kinkelaar …~


I didn’t think much of this one when I first heard it on CDR. Years passed, and I ended up getting the very rare original LP, which got me thinking - why not give the album another spin? So I did, and it’s clearly more interesting than I remembered - in fact, this time I felt it just had to be put into the right context. There is a story circulating among collectors about the mainman of Surprieze having been so disappointed with sales of his cherished work of art that he packed several hundred unsold copies of the LP and threw them into the sea (thus making it a collectible it now is). Well, no wonder it sold so poorly, as the album is some thirty years ahead of its time. Had it been released in 2000s, along with the stream of lo-fi DIY bedroom recordings, it would’ve been praised by hipster media and proclaimed a downer classic. Because that’s exactly how it sounds - amateurish, sloppy and with bad sound quality (in fact the sound is so muffled that it rivals those notorious heard-it-as-if-on-a-deteriorated-old-tape “hypnagogic” pop recordings). But in 1973 people obviously were still into hi-fi and decent musicianship so “Zeer Oude Klanken…” was destined to fall on deaf ears. Nowadays, listening from the perspective that I outlined, it seems a startlingly unique and forward-thinking LP. Time to boost the rating….by…levgan…~


One of the most obscure Dutch albums is without a doubt the LP by Surprieze, titled: Zeer oude klanken en heel nieuwe geluiden (Very old sounds and completely new sounds), performed and arranged by Ed van der Meer de Walcheren. Eddie in 1995: In september 1966, I started up the band Slack Gang in Breda. We played blues, inspirated by John Lee Hooker, Howling Wolf, Sonny Boy Wiliamson etc. Little by little we changed into a kind of cult-band, playing music which we called freeblues, long tracks, influenced by bands like Capt.Beefheart. In 1967 we performed in The Hague at the Holland Blues Festivbal in the famous club De Drie Stoepen, where we played together with acts like Indiscrimination and the Leo Unger Band. 
During those days there was something going on in Breda, under the influence of the Academy of Art and the semi-anarchal Theatre De Trapkes where mostly jazz and freeform Theatre was performed. This was the place wheer we held our Provadya-evenings with Slack Gang. The music of that band grew more into the pop-direction and I left the band. I continued playing blues and doing some solo-performances. The LP Surprieze dates from that time (1973). It contains a.o. Turkish music blues, free-jazz and electronic sounds. 

In 1974 Eddie tried it one more time. He called the band Surprise and it consisted, next to Eddie, of Kees van Veldhuizen (organ), Roel Bisschop (drums) and Hans de Vos (bass guitar). This outfit didn’t last very long and they ended in 1975. …isabelbc ..~


“I prefer to make music with the least distraction, or even in the dark. In your ultimate freedom you can achieve a heightened state of awareness and become a receptor of natural influences. You are then a chunk of nature, and therefore your music also becomes a part of nature. The ‘All’…” - Eddy van der Meer, 3-string guitarist (translated from the original liner notes) 
The road that led to van der Meer’s quizzical masterpiece began in his hometown of Breda, The Netherlands in 1966 when he formed his first band, The Slack Gang. Fronting them on vocals and harmonica, their material was initially blues-based but after years of gigging and various promises of success and recording contracts coming to nought, all slackness began to constrict and by 1970 the group started to gravitate so heavily to more pop-oriented stylings, van der Meer quit. Although The Slack Gang soldiered on, they eventually folded two years later without a single recording committed to posterity. 
Meanwhile, van der Meer carried on. He switched instrumentation and began experimenting with the electric guitar by stripping it down to three strings, playing it exclusively through a tape delayed echo and constructing distended instrumentals that hovered into an combination located between the exotic droning of ragas, the trance-like rhythms of Turkish taxims and with all the power of one channel of “Metal Machine Music” stripped of distortion and replaced with an equal setting of reverb all at once… and combined into a single echoed wall of noise set to staggered AND staggering proportions. Using the echo itself as a sympathetic and labyrinthine foil to his ever-swelling riffing, van der Meer would mix into his sonic undertowing more fragile outings, adjusting the lapse of echo as it suited the mood and even throw in some wailing blues that allowed him to reunite with his first love, harmonica – Sometimes, with enough echo to make one almighty blare of the harp seem like a veritable fleet of rolling stock. 
He was soon joined by ex-Slack Gang violinist Jacques van Poppel in his new musical venture, which he named Surprieze. It was a far less pop and more improvisational affair than anything he had been engaged in previously, and a main influence on this shift was reflected by van der Meer’s highest period of activity coinciding with local Provadya events. A synthesis of the Provohappenings and Rock Music combined with lightshows, films, magicians and theatre in an overall multi-media happening, Provadya clubs were scattered throughout The Netherlands, and the one located in Breda boasted a small scene centered on the Academy of Art and the Theatre De Trapkes. In this circus-like scene, van der Meer would perform either solo or in conjunction with The Green Eye, a loose duo comprised of ex-Slack Gang violinist van Poppel, drummer Adri Heeren and whoever else happened to be on the bill that evening. At one event where a continuous 25 minute set was broadcast live on the Dutch VPRO Vrijdag radio programme and according to one account, van der Meer’s 3-stringed guitar free-forms joined by bizarre vocal contributions of clowns from a traveling circus was so anarchic the station banned them from any future appearances. It was in these sort of loose and high spirited environments that van der Meer’s self-styled “confrontation with spontaneity” gained ground and expanded between the years of 1970 to 1972. And after much labouring over his album and obsessed over its track listing, possibilities and copious liner notes, he concluded work on the privately-pressed album and it was released in the final weeks of 1972. 
“Zeer Oude Klanken En Heel Nieuwe Geluiden” (‘Very Old Tones And Very New Sounds’) is as stark and expressionistically as its gestured white lines and spirals cut into its deathless black front cover. Recorded live with no overdubs, no bass, almost no drums and absolutely no commercial potential whatsoever, the album’s design was comprised of two black and white prints as front and back cover, placed over a blank sleeve and housed in a plastic sleeve to greater effect than its jerry-built facade would immediately suggest: although ‘surprieze’ is the Dutch word for ‘surprise’, it has a specific meaning in The Netherlands during St. Nicolas celebrations in early December, where one custom is to exchange gifts packed in a ‘surprieze,’ or a satiric gift made out of paper mache that houses the ‘real’ present within. And “Zeer Oude Klanken…” was every bit an audio surprieze for it did not immediately reveal its true ‘gift’ until after the opening classical piece and two blues numbers passed to allow the rest of the album course immediately into successively weirder terrain comprised of anarchic and highly stuporific, hypnotic improvisations that came bundled with relentless waves of echoed-drenched guitar and improvised vocals of the freest ya-ya variety. 
The album begins with the reel-to-reel being turned on, catching the thump of a chair and someone saying “shut up” to hush all the chatter for recording has now commenced to capture the puzzling classical guitar and violin instrumental piece “Klasziek (Clas-sick).” It’s enticing, serene…and entirely unlike the rest of the record in its stylistically orthodox manner. Jack van Poppel’s violin is sad and reserved while Eddie gently plucks Spanish acoustic. But with the entry of the elongated, run-on sentence “Zoen-Zoen” (“Kiss-Kiss”) the mood is all change direct into a super-slow, super-quiet and highly-echoed 3-string guitar suite of no beginning or end. The prelude is just 3-string guitar and echo machine, and once it falls away van der Meer’s high pitched vocals beseech and waver from within notes that collide and whirl in a blizzard of audio after-images as echoed runs up the neck crumble and resound, hang in the air and fall away: breaking up and crumbling above an undercurrent of slight, skittering guitar underneath. In two places the track fades out altogether with the crudest of editing – only to grind back with untoward force to break the trance it’s been building so patiently for countless minutes. Van der Meer balances a peaceful precision with improvisation, but never do its spellbinding qualities waver or fall away until it finally grinds to a tape-sped halt – followed by distant kissy noises that close this enigmatic and quietly vibrating piece. 
Following up is a duo of blues “Just The Blues” and “Eddie’s Harpblues” that are harshly wailed as if to break the previous spell, and although they usher side one out on a distinctly non-meditative note, side two opens as though in spacey compromise with the free-blues number, “Zero.” Van der Meer here has reduced his performance to just vocals and harmonica through a massive echo, backed by muted tom-toms that resound in the distance in a “Mona” meets “Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun” groove. The 90-second instrumental “In Galop” (‘At A Gallop’) quickly breaks down to freak out, with van der Meer on guitar wobbling through echo machine and accompanied for the last time by drummer Heeren and acts as the perfect outro to “Zero”…or for that matter: the intro to the following piece, the 19-minute epic “Lazarus” which closes the album. This is the absolute centerpiece of the album that highlights van der Meer’s improvisational 3-string guitar, accompanied on occasional parping from longhair Pιrig Mahet on bladder flute, flute and wordless vocal vibings. “Lazarus” means ‘drunk’ but the track is a far more hypnotic and brutal an assault than any mere alcohol-based bender and approaching Dutch O-Mind. Shifting between eastern modalities,’66 Velvet Underground “Loop” drone-scaping assault and the skittering qualities of Danelectro-era Syd Barrett of the same year, it breaks off into sudden forays into expressionistic sheets of noise and continually builds walls of echoed drones – accompanied here and there by the trills of freak bladder reedsmanship, van der Meer burns onward and unleashes itself over and over against near-incomprehensible vocals that although for all their drowned-out by the ceaseless barrage, do state their emotions, if not their literal meanings, clearly. Churning and building up and swelling wave after wave, “Lazarus” achieves qualities of stunning unyielding guitar noise that reflect off and into further polyrhythms while maintaining a weighty togetherness at all times. As Mahet moaning and vocally vibing along with the drone wave when the primary guitar signal falls away, its echoed half-life is still sympathetically reverberating in the background as though the sound itself is a freeform flβneur that seeks to explore, evoke and evolve all at once. And at its rhythmic heart is an unflagging centre that is subconsciously adhered to at all times and it never tips off balance even when the bladder woodwinding steps down and out of the picture. And van der Meer just continues with his plowing of his singular sonic furrow, hitting every right note, noise and fluttering, echoey vibe like an implausible crossing across a bridge of bone dry stepping stones assembled across a raging river. And even as the guitar starts nosing down to an extended forced landing with low, rumbling and jagged runs, it continually repositions itself; finally scuttled as final flute trills send it off into a silent place of calm. 
Afterword:Unfortunately, the very first review of “Veer Oude Klanken En Heel Nieuwe Geluiden” that appeared was so negative that it had regrettable consequences. When it first appeared in the popular Dutch youth magazine Aloha, the reviewer boorishly suggested (among other things better left unsaid) that “Eddy van der Meer’s ego trip is a direct insult to every listener.” Despite subsequent reviews that gave positive notice to his D.I.Y. handiwork, after a scant amount of his albums sold and one abortive attempt with the newly-formed and Anglicised Surprise, van der Meer took all remaining copies of his album and cycled seventy miles to the coastal city of Scheveningen where he promptly jettisoned them into the North Sea. And with that single offering, Surprieze were all but resigned into the black void of anonymity forever…or so it seemed: For luckily, copies survived in personal collections throughout The Netherlands, and one wound up providing the Grey Past label the means to reissue it in the early years of the twenty-first century…where it has finally garnered a respect and appreciation befitting of such a singular achievement. 
Reviewed by The Seth ManFrom Julian Cope’s Head Heritage 
One of the most obscure Dutch albums is without a doubt the LP by Surprieze, titled: Zeer oude klanken en heel nieuwe geluiden (Very old sounds and completely new sounds), performed and arranged by Ed van der Meer de Walcheren. Eddie in 1995: In september 1966, I started up the band Slack Gang in Breda. We played blues, inspirated by John Lee Hooker, Howling Wolf, Sonny Boy Wiliamson etc. Little by little we changed into a kind of cult-band, playing music which we called freeblues, long tracks, influenced by bands like Capt.Beefheart. In 1967 we performed in The Hague at the Holland Blues Festivbal in the famous club De Drie Stoepen, where we played together with acts like Indiscrimination and the Leo Unger Band.During those days there was something going on in Breda, under the influence of the Academy of Art and the semi-anarchal Theatre De Trapkes where mostly jazz and freeform Theatre was performed. This was the place wheer we held our Provadya-evenings with Slack Gang. The music of that band grew more into the pop-direction and I left the band. I continued playing blues and doing some solo-performances. The LP Surprieze dates from that time (1973). It contains a.o. Turkish music blues, free-jazz and electronic sounds. 
In 1974 Eddie tried it one more time. He called the band Surprise and it consisted, next to Eddie, of Kees van Veldhuizen (organ), Roel Bisschop (drums) and Hans de Vos (bass guitar). This outfit didn’t last very long and they ended in 1975. 
Source: Private Dutch (Jean Jöbses) 
Music is insane noise ACID basement madness music, some laid back tunes and even a few r&b tunes but the track ‘Lazarus’ is an unequalled evil exprience filled with noise, eastern drone guitarlicks played on a three string guitar of which one is used as drone, and weird folkinstruments and a guy saying 'Lazarus’ in a real menacing tone…..~


SWACK! SHOOMP! BLAP! Look the fu*k out before your face explodes! This little 1970 Dutch jem is golden! Full of disturbed psychedelic free progressive/complex rhythms rock and roll extravaganza! There’s raunchy guitars, noisy drums, fuzzy feedback, bagpipes, flutes, chants, horns, strings, harmony, cacophony, and plain old good time freak outs. It’s got a somewhat middle eastern edge at times, and at times it’s kinda like the Velvet Underground or something. It’s all over the place and nasty and underground music 'heads’ like it that way! Many levels, and they’re all schizophrenic acid directions and really superb. 
“Zeer Oude Klanken En Heel Nieuwe Geluiden” (‘Very Old Tones And Very New Sounds’) is as stark and expressionistically as its gestured white lines and spirals cut into its deathless black front cover. Recorded live with no overdubs and absolutely no commercial potential whatsoever, the album’s design was comprised of two black and white prints as front and back cover, placed over a blank sleeve and housed in a plastic sleeve to greater effect than its jerry-built facade would immediately suggest. Although ‘surprieze’ is the Dutch word for ‘surprise,’ it has a specific meaning in The Netherlands where during St. Nicolas celebrations in early December, one custom is to exchange gifts packed in a ‘surprieze,’ or a satiric gift made out of paper mache that houses the real present within. And “Zeer Oude Klanken…” was every bit an audio surprieze for it did not immediately reveal its true ‘gift’ until after the opening classical piece and two blues numbers passed to allow the rest of the album course immediately into successively weirder terrain comprised of anarchic and highly stuporific, hypnotic improvisations that came bundled with relentless waves of echoed-drenched guitar and improvised vocals of the freest ya-ya variety….the music is insane ACID basement madness music, some laid back tunes and even a few blues tunes but the track 'Lazarus’ is an unequalled evil exprience filled with eastern drone guitarlicks played on a three string guitar of which one is used as drone, and weird folk-instruments and a guy saying 'Lazarus’ in a real menacing tone…..~


This private release from the Netherlands 1973 may have one of the strangest titles in progressive music with Zeer Oude Klanken en Heel Nieuwe Geluiden. This has “underground” written all over it, and what I mean by underground is that word psych collectors often use to denote an early rock album with muddy production and rambling music values. But this is a strange underground psych album by any measure. There is harmonica early on and then bagpipes get pulled out. These all work over this rambling, meandering guitar (apparently only 3 strings) work that seems to not have any rhythmic backing underneath it but whim. It’s as if you walked into a bar late at night to see some unknown electric guitarist wailing away without any care in the world only to have various other musicians get up and join him on occasion for what seems like no particular reason at all. After being at the bar for a while, you realize with surprise (sorry, I’m not that easy) that the guitar player is also joined by vocals every so often, mumbling and crooning and wailing like Robert Plant after a 12 pack of beer. Just listening to this album is awe-inspiring, at the very least for the musicians’ sheer audacity in actually releasing this thing. The question here is just exactly when did the acid start happening? My guess is about halfway through the album, which is about when the guitar player starts adding so many effects to his sound that it starts to become a wailing, rumbling wall of noise. So later on, after he’s finished being Jimi Hendrix, the mood settles down to a violin and acoustic guitar duet that could have been a mellow jam from High Tide’s early years. But before you know it the electric comes back, the delay and reverbs are cranked up to full and the weird, manic guitar rambling is back in full force. This is one you have to hear to believe. Perhaps a tribute to the potency of Amsterdam’s hash bars? Only you can decide. 

“I prefer to make music with the least distraction, or even in the dark. In your ultimate freedom you can achieve a heightened state of awareness and become a receptor of natural influences. You are then a chunk of nature, and therefore your music also becomes a part of nature. The 'All’…” - Eddy van der Meer, 3-string guitarist (translated from the original liner notes)….~


I first read the reviews of the Surprieze LP’s and did not expect to hear what I heard when I finally had the chance to listen. The descriptions I read were possibly not written by reviewers who liked or knew albums like Kalacakra, Dom, Siloah, etc., German acoustic improvisational Krautrock albums with a raga-like effect. This band who started with their career with R&B in 1966 evolved to something completely different, something more psychedelic through avantgardistic and more pure mood improvisation styles. “Suprieze” means “surprise” and the music is surprising indeed, because there is not much music like this being made in Holland. The first track is like Kalacakra, improvisational raga like. The second track start like an experimental sounds creation like very early Kraftwerk. This kind of creativity with music being born from within the mood and sound creation was very ahead of it’s time, and even now it’s still not always understood by music writers. Thanks to the newer more accessible works of Kraftwerk some people did take time to get into the earlier works of Kraftwerk for instance, but other groups were often still denied, although such “sound creations” on its own have abilities to look for and dig into the 'essence’ of musical creation. Such transformational potential, within a psychedelic / bluesy raga like mood continuation, creating its own structures, becomes an accessible and enjoyable, mind expanding experience. After the first two long tracks in the described style two less appealing underground blues tracks come after that. The first track on side B, “Zero” is experimental acid blues, with a psychedelic repetitive rhythm, and with, let’s call it “Native screams” and blues mouth harmonica. The very short track “In Galop” to be followed are completely experimental free sounds. “Lazarus” is a long acid psychedelic improvisation, completely tripped out, with distorted electric guitars, bagpipes, echoed effects, psychedelic voice sounds / singing, flutes. “Lazarus” is a Dutch word for being completely farout which you can be by being drunk or stoned, but can become also when you would listen to this music. The title of the album itself means something like “old sounds for a new sound”. Except for the two blues tracks this is a very interesting psychedelic record, maybe even the most psychedelic record from Holland….Julian Cope….~



Musicians: 

Ed van der Meer de Walcheren: Guitar, vocals, harmonica 
Jacques van Poppel: Violin 
Adrie Heeren: Drums 
Perig Mahet: Flutes, wordless vocals 


Tracklist
Klasziek 
Zoen Zoen 
Just The Blues 
Eddies Harpblues 
Zero 
In Gallop 
Lazarus 

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