Robert van Heumen Composer Improvisor Laptop-Instrumentalist Sound-Designer
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January 31, 2008 - January 2008 Archives

Cate Blanchett

On her disgust of how so many of her Hollywood peers have succumbed to using face-paralyzing Botox: "It's not just women on film, 18-year-old girls feel pressure to do preventative injecting. I see someone's face, someone's body who'd had children and I think they're the song lines of your experience, and why would you want to eradicate that? I look at people sort of entombing themselves and all you see is their little pin holes of terror... and you think, just live your life, death is not going to be any easier just because your face can't move."

January 29, 2008 - January 2008 Archives

Fury CD release on Creative Sources Recordings

I'm really happy to announce that Creative Sources Recordings has released my work Fury on CD. Fury contains a stereo version of the 5.1 surround composition Fury (after anger) and the semi-improvised composition They Would Get Angry Sometimes, as performed live at the Brown University in Providence RI USA and the <TAG> Gallery in The Hague NL.

The CD can be bought at Creative Sources Recordings, Metamkine and directly through Paypal for €12 (send an email to robert (at) hardhatarea (dot) com for instructions).


Fury is about the primitive in man. The hidden part of us that we try very hard to suppress or control, that boils within us and breaks through the surface only under extreme circumstances. In the current state of the world, our minds are constantly overloaded with information, all the time trying to deal with others around us and our relationships with these people. We try to communicate with them, to convey our inner world, but we fail to really make contact. Frustration and anger can surface unexpectedly and uncontrollably, with devastating effects. Sometimes the fog can clear up and we experience beauty, a hint of something good.

The texts researched are about Dust Bowl migrants living in Farm Security Administration camps in central California (1940-1941). Many Americans fled the Great Plains (Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri) looking for work and a better economical and ecological environment.
These texts were chosen because they breathe a different era, before the world became seemingly 'civilized'. The musical voice of the woman who talks about clashes of colonists with indians in an earlier time, is not only beautiful and soothing but sends shivers down my spine.

'Fury (after anger)' is originally an electronic 5.1 surround composition commissioned by the Sonic Circuits festival 2006 in Washington DC.
'They would get angry sometimes' is a derived version, performed live in 2007 at Brown University, Rhode Island (USA) and at the <>TAG Gallery, The Hague (NL). It shares its sounds with Fury, but has a different structure and different movements.

Images & interviews: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, Library of Congress, American Folklife Center.
Fury contains samples of Anne LaBerge, Jodi Gilbert and OfficeR.
Special thanks to Mirjam for unlimited support.

January 25, 2008 - January 2008 Archives


So, a new year, new plans. For a while I had an idea for the structure of a piece, but the content, the urge to make it happen didn't show itself. Also last fall has been quite hectic at STEIM and with touring that I couldn't find time to sit down and let my mind flow. But then having two weeks off around Christmas finally something came up. Two things actually: the content and the solution to the no-time-issue.

Content-wise I had bought the new Bladerunner 5DVD set with all 5 versions and documentaries, storyboards and what not. For some reason Bladerunner always has been special to me - maybe because it provided the first voice samples I used in my music, maybe because the atmosphere just caught me. Meanwhile the last couple of years I've been reading the original, 'Do androids dream of electric sheep' by Philip K. Dick, but still looking our for the long awaited release of 'Bladerunner - the Final Cut'. At the same time on the Total Dick-head blog (about, you've guessed it, Philip K. Dick) I read a post about the similarities between Deckard (the main character in Bladerunner/DADOES) and Meursault, the protagonist in Albert Camus' L'Etranger. Totally fascinated, I read my first Camus novel, and was completely blown away. So that's going to be my new work 'Vreemdeling' (Dutch for 'L'Etranger').


As for the no-time thing: I realized that what some composers come to STEIM for, I could use myself: just a block of time, undisturbed by the daily things of life, in
.,.,..,.,.,.,.,wait, hold, what's that ..,.,.,.,,..,,.,.
as I'm writing this, I'm listening to the new Gescom CD (the guys rom Autechre) in which they're using Bladerunner voicesamples!
ok, so I send off some emails to various institutions in Europe, explaining that I was looking for a studio, a place to stay and a non-demanding environment, and within a week I was able to arrange a week at EMS (the electronic music studio in Stockholm, Sweden) and two weeks at Culture Lab, Newcastle UK! So I'm totally excited about this opportunity to finally spend a longer stretch of time (more than, let's say, 1 day) to the thing I like doing most: working with sound.

The way to structure the piece, what I had in mind for a while, is using the so-called Family Tree concept, where you start out with some initial soundfiles (axioms) and a number of audio processes, and build a family tree by repeatedly applying those processes on each new generation of sounds. The axioms are going to be limited to samples from Bladerunner, which I'm going to have to smash beyond repair obviously, and the processes are going to be some of my live LiSa processing, and probably some basic reverb, extreme noise reduction etc.

One more aspect of this composition is that I'd like to monitor and study the composition process while I'm doing it, since I've become more and more interested in the way a piece of music is conceived: How do we choose sounds and processes out of many? Can that process be arbitrary, even random, or should every sound and every process be weighted again and again until we know it’s right? What does that mean, ‘it is right’? .. That kind of questions. Similar to the ones in L'Etranger and Bladerunner. And to life, I guess.....
These results are probably showing up on this blog regularly. So keep reading! (yeah right, as if someone is really reading my 2 cents - but does that actually matter? If someone is reading this or not? Isn't is merely a way to structure my thoughts?).

OK. Out for now. Later.

January 5, 2008 - January 2008 Archives


OK, one more before we get to 'real content'.

Nowadays I get most of my information about the world from the daily newspaper (the dutch NRC Handelsblad - yes, paper version) and RSS feeds (which are usually followed by some web browsing). I'd like to share some feeds:

> Neither more nor less: a photoblog from the East Village in New York City - mostly bums, punks and storefronts - very warm
> Robert Reich's Blog: interesting views on USA politics
> Boing Boing: 'a directory of wonderful things' - mainly art, some politics, funny things
> Lost At E Minor: Music, illustration, art, photography and more: I guess the title says it all - I've got a lot of my desktop images through posts on this blog ;)
> great source for 'USA news done better'
> t r u t h o u t: good place for USA news from various sources


Yeah, I know - no posts for 3 months then only a lousy cartoon. It's a good one though.
I promise to write more soon. This is NOT a newyears resolution, for the record ;)


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