From the basement of a former biological research centre near Groningen, The Netherlands, Phole (Rik van den Heuvel) produces an intensely atmospheric and organic-sounding brand of electronic music.
In 2013, Phole released his debut album, titled Oppositeland, on San Francisco-based label Three Sixty Records. His tracks introduced him to fans and tastemakers around the world and were featured in videos produced by National Geographic. In the meantime, the producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist pursued a degree at the conservatoire and produced entire albums full of songs. In this way, a new level of personal perfectionism was achieved, but it also caused a certain anxiety to bring out anything ever again. After graduating in 2018, the producer marked his return with a support show for Lapalux, followed by the release of his Rain on Canvas EP – featuring Robin Yzerman – on boutique-label Haunting Records. To bring his compositions to life, the artist has recently put together a five-man band that translates the complex structures and textures of Phole’s productions into a dynamic and energetic live set.
With his abstract beats, melancholic chord progressions and layered, percussive grooves, Phole creates a refreshing style that pushes the boundaries of nu jazz, down tempo and trip hop. Add to that the sounds of mainly acoustic instruments, field recordings and worn out second-hand synths, an eclectic sound is created that fascinates listeners from every scene. Van den Heuvel’s compositions breathe craftmanship down to the smallest detail which thread deeply captivating sonic tapestries.
His latest single, The Waiting Game, is the soundtrack of postponing actions in order to contemplate what the past looked like and what the future should hold. Melancholic synth chords and atmospheric field recordings symbolise a trip down memory lane. Fast and complex rhythms represent quick flashbacks of positive moments gone by and uncertain visions of the future. In creating the new piece, the producer enlisted additional performers to add authenticity and credibility to the sound; drums and percussion work from Ignacio Ampurdanes Ruz and Marco Diaz, bass courtesy of Troy Ionescu as well as a stellar trumpet performance by Esther Fernandez Mata.
Commenting on the new track, he offers, “The Waiting Game’ is the soundtrack of (unintentionally) postponing actions in order to contemplate what the past looked like and the future should look like. Melancholic synth chords and atmospheric field recordings symbolise a trip down memory lane. Fast and complex rhythms symbolise quick flashbacks of all nice things happened and the uncertain visions of the future.“
He continues, “To be honest, my sound arose from a lack of money. I never had money for expensive synths and other pro gear, but after my album ‘Oppositeland’ I did want to get away from all the free VST’s on my computer. I just had to do it with cheap organs, self-made percussion, instruments from the thrift store and bass drums I borrowed from friends. By utilising the roughness of all these beat-up instruments with all their creaks and squeaks in the proper way, a kind of humanness and vivaciousness emerges you will miss with all those ritzy VSTs. And then, when you combine all of this with the beauty of, for example, well-recorded vocal samples or entire vocal lines, to me, a track becomes perfect with all its imperfections.”
Listen to The Waiting Game below