While the drones, soundscapes and somwhat funky basslines of 'Aldo' gently float through my speakers, I look back at how all of this started. It was not long ago, a few months perhaps. Ronald had just thrown a wicked release party for his 'Collaborations' album, along with big ambient stars like Dirk Serries, Aidan Baker, Helmut Neidhard and Ashtoreth. That party was saw one of the most impressive gigs this genre had ever seen with all the invited artists jamming together for half an hour. It had a marvellous apotheosis, Ronald standing up, leading the legions of ambient into battle. But, as brilliant and fascinating as that album and that concert were, there was a sense of uneasiness. The "what's next?" question started appearing. I think we all felt that ambient and soundscapes are awesome but can only be stretched to a certain extent before it all starts sounding the same.
I definitely felt that. Misantronics wasn't really going anywhere and neither was its EDM anagram Mint Narcosis. My last album had some neat tunes but everything after that seemed uninspired and out of flow. The only exception was my remix for Distant Fires Burning. That was fun to do, even though it should actually have been a Mint Narcosis remix, with the dance beats and all. Gert loved it and apparently several other people too. From what I heard, 'I Would Move (Misantronics Remix)' is now a favorite for a bunch of DJ's, neat! Yet, still, there was clearly something wrong. It had also been a while since the much loved Antwerp Ambient festivals, organised by Sjaak Overgaauw (Premonition Factory). We all miss those. They were inspiration, mostly.
One day, Ronald invited me to a Stratosphere concert in The Netherlands. He invited Distant Fires Burning too. The three of us started talking, I was nervous already. I'm not a stage-animal anymore, on the very contrary. There haven't been any Misantronics gigs since years ago. Suddenly, someone in the facebook chatbox uttered the fabulous words: "why don't we do something together?". Synchyse was born, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Ronald wanted the cold, eerie electronics of Misantronics and Gert wanted to jam again. So we found a date and a place for our very first rehearsal: Gert's attic studio. During the soundcheck and installment, I played the base-track for what has become 'Aldo' and the strings-wizards added their sound. I also lost a tooth that day, but that's a whole different story.
It was a weird experience, that first rehearsal. There I was with my laptop and my drumpads, joining a duo of massively experienced class-artists. Yet, what surprised me the most, was the fact that they just ate up my contributions. "Play that again", they said, and "that sample fits in very well". Meanwhile, I was simply star-struck and fascinated by their technical knowledge. I was still nervous but at least now that nervousness seemed to go anywhere. We recorded a first version of 'Aldo' that day and played around with a base-track titled '1New'. I think we were all satisfied with the result, even though we also realized that Synchyse still had a long way to go. Today, 'Aldo' has almost doubled in length, contains a strange story that only I know. Today, 'Aldo' heralds the Antwerp Ambient 2.0 scene.
Why 2.0? Well, looking back at all those amazing ambient acts from in and around Antwerp, there is one thing they have in common: they're pretty much all solo acts. On that Stratosphere party, all of them learned that working together is the way of the future. Around that time I also got involved in a second project: Valavond Ensemble, mixing ambient with dark jazz. For now that project is on hold so I can focus fully on Synchyse. I have to learn, experience and absorb our new ways, and 'Aldo' really is just the beginning. We recently had our third rehearsal and there is 'Rembrandt', a dark, mystifying piece of industrially driven drone-ambient. There is 'Drobe', another base-track driving on absolute strangeness. In my head, all is coming together. Up there I have a 45 minutes lasting gig with two talented artists and a freelance sampler.
I don't really know how the other two think about Synchyse but for me it is definitely a fresh start. I use a notebook now. I write down the samples, the base-tracks and the atmospheres for each and every song. I prepare for rehearsals and I listen closely to every bit of advice. I suffer from stage-fear. Gert and Ronald didn't know that until they read this column. But at least now I know that I will not be alone up there. I have two skilled buddies by my side, capable of pushing me and themselves to the next level. Synchyse is coming and Synchyse has a story to tell. We're probably not going to be the next big thing on the billboards, not in this genre, but we will have fun and we will be ready to take on stages everywhere. Synchyse means "bewildering" and that's exactly how I have been feeling these past three jam sessions.
We will have new music coming up soon while we work towards our debut gig at JazzBlazzt. For now however, have a good listen to that first recording of 'Aldo' and prepare to be bewildered when you hear us play the full live version at a theatre near you. For those who wonder: we have not discussed an album yet, that'll come at a later date, maybe. First we want to become the best possible version of Synchyse, loyal to the band's name. Everything after that will be readable in future columns about my experiences with this band. They do have a writer among them so they will have a diary about them. That's simply how things go in this life. For now, I can only end this column with a very lame joke. For me, Misantronics, Synchyse is Winchyse. I'm very sorry...