Esther Venrooy
CD (E104)

“when I was young, at night, if the wind was blowing in
the direction of our house I could hear the slow beating
of the ships’ engines.”

Vessel was conceived for and presented as a site-specific,
multi-channel sound installation in Diapason Gallery,
Brooklyn, in October 2008. The composition consists
of recordings of cargo ships on the river Waal in the
vicinity of Zaltbommel, a small town in the heart of
The Netherlands.

For my parents. Thanks to Jan Tiggelman (boatsman)
and Michael J. Schumacher.

Mastered by Jacques Beloeil

See also
Esther Venrooy
Blueprint #1

Edition of 300 copies
Out of print

“An elegant metaphysical journey”
The Wire


The magnificent The Spiral Staircase had been the last
album by Esther Venrooy to enthral this reviewer.
The pragmatic sorceress is now back with a shorter,
but still meaningful work based on the sounds emitted
by harboured cargos. The composer relates her interest
to a childhood recollection, according to which the cyclical
echoes of chugging boats from a nearby marine area were
transported by the wind to the place where she was living.
The evocative power of this sonic collage — originally born
for a 2008 installation in Brooklyn – is inspiring, showing
once again that an artist’s receptivity is an inborn gift,
nothing that can be accomplished with mere practice or
technical know-how.

And yet it takes a serious revision of all the acoustic
characters of a certain zone — and its inhabitants, either
human or mechanical — to bring those reminiscences to
life under the form of concrete snapshots (the creaking
noises of the ships, the washing of the water), submarine
suggestions, subsonic droning and what the ears perceive
as electronically generated feedback. There will never
be a rational explanation about the successful (or less)
engraving of a piece like this in a listener’s memory.
It mostly depends on the level of affinity of our early
experiences with those of the designer, which in this
particular case is partially coincident. The reverberations
of a small seaport have in fact defined almost half of my
summers, and some of the swishing continuums heard
in the record’s final third recall the faraway rebounds of
passing trains at night, another regular incidence in your
reporter’s adolescence. Join the above mentioned traits
with the tremendous mental rubdown administered by
the throbbing lows originating from the massive humming
of underwater engines. Venrooy’s specialist selection of
the frequency configurations throughout this perfectly
conceived chain of aural scenarios represents the current
diagram of a talent that shows no sign of lassitude.

Massimo Ricci at Touching Extremes

At 29 minutes, vessel offers too brief an encounter with
Venrooy’s processed field recordings from cargo ships
docked at a Dutch harbour. Swollen hums and sinus-
oidal arcs weave their way through lapping waves at
the shore, thick nocturnal hues, submarine creakiings
and reverberant clanks. The mood is undeniably
similar to Nurse With Wound’s Salt Marie Celeste,
although Venrooy steers Vessel below the roiling seas
that Stapleton so masterfully articulated. She plunges
beneath underwater to survey abyssal plains about
halfway through the album, encountering an omni-
present din of rumbling frequencies. As she resurfaces
to the waves, shimmering vibrations shift from cold
greys to luminous silvers. By the end, Vessels has
revealed itself as an elegant metaphysical journey.

Jim Haynes in The Wire

Venrooy’s Vessel, which was installed in the Diapason
Gallery, Brooklyn, in 2008, is sourced from the varied
and often behemoth sounds of cargo ships on the river
Waal in the Netherlands, enhanced here and there and
overlaid in elastic, viscous patterns. If anything, it might
recall some of Olivia Block’s work with similar sounds
(Heave To) but Venrooy’s sensibility is very much her
own. The ultra-deep mix of hums, whirs and echoing
bangs that begins the piece evolves into sloshing water
and the low thrum of submerged engines. That thrum
takes over, a wonderfully complex and rich sound,
enveloping the space (I can imagine how this would
have worked in situ!), eventually subsiding back into
a set of ringing tones and distant aqueous clangs.
  The recording runs only a half-hour, but it’s time well
spent and an impressive addition to Venrooy’s already
outstanding ouevre.

Brian Olewnick at Just Outside