Kettel & Secede – When Can (2012)


Kind of feels like I don’t remember how to write one of these things anymore it’s been that long. Been kept a bit busy and new material eludes me as of late, but new content is incoming.

Despite being rather quietly announced and relatively silently released, one of perhaps the most anticipated collaborations of the year in my musical sphere was When Can by these two quite significant musicians from the Netherlands. Over the last decade both of these artists have been producing powerfully influential works, even with relatively small discographies; both of them are firmly rooted in IDM but are highly progressive in their field, moving away from some of the more beat and Techno orientated foundations of the genre and focusing more on producing Ambient atmospheres laden with samples.

Fans of either of these artists will find themselves perhaps somewhat disappointed with the sounds here; I know of a few people who approached this album as though it would be the next Tryshasla, Secede’s seminal album now 8 years old. In fact When Can is not dominated by either artist, since it’s an album that pushes new ground for both; it is as though they have come together to form one perfect new entity.

Aptly titled opener “A New Factory” introduces the album with a sparse atmosphere and some wailing, string-esque sounds, a Secede flourish if I ever heard one. “Kirsten” follows it up quickly and begins to detail the scope of the album already, throwing in such things as a sampled French woman’s gentle voice to a brilliant saxophone inclusion with a strong 70’s vibe. “Admittance” has a sort of Enigma feel to it with its downtempo beats and faux Gregorian chanting alongside its relatively more rigid electronic beat structure, waxing and waning between synth warbles and ambient interludes.

“Pentimento” is once again completely different, with a curiously medieval sound in its harpsichord but feels inescapably modern with strong and jovial electronic bounces. Subtle field recordings creep into the textural chaos, especially at the end as owls, frogs and horses segue us into the Asian overtones of “Ringvanes” with its wet synths, sitar and xylophones, amongst an abundance of other instrumentation. This album really is extremely dense and texturally complex, it’s impossible to list every sonic signature in a single track let alone them all.

“Missing Time” provides a perfect mid-album ambient interlude into the glitchy, obviously Kettel dominated, “Jahe”, spinning sparse electronic bubbles and an appropriately unsettling atmosphere for its 5 minute duration. The previous album theme returns in the luxuriously downtempo “Deliria Noon” before moving into my absolute favourite track of the album “Fullmoon”. The end of “Deliria Noon” is interesting since it actually implements this tracks lyrics, buried deep in the background as though from a distant radio outside the wood-cabin view it simulates. It has an utterly mesmerising beat, stacking bells with percussion, claps and whistles to create a really driven piece that waxes and wanes like any solid pop track and with just such a bright atmosphere that you cant help but smile at its quirkiness.

Penultimate “Grandcan” is similarly excellent, it’s like the perfect cooldown after the hectic party of “Fullmoon”, with its practically hymnal vocals, piano work and ethereal synth drones; just beautiful. Finally, closer “Canned Forever” is a surprisingly downtrodden and minimal piece; spanning 8 minutes it brings together plenty of violin and synth with fragmented and heavily processed vocals to create a surprisingly dense piece that, with its seagull squawks, elicit memories of sitting alone on the beach on an overcast Winter’s morning. It’s a little disappointing in all honestly, given how eclectic the album before it is, but it’s not terrible.

Overall, an extremely competent and very well produced album. Everything is extremely crisp, every texture in the complex bazaar that is this album has its own space and is most importantly a necessary contribution to whatever track it ruminates in. Fans of their earlier works may not necessarily like this because it’s so different from either of their individual works, but I would highly recommend it to any IDM and Ambient fans out there.