Robert van Heumen: composer and improvising musician on laptop-instrument
Robert van Heumen is a composer and improvising musician using an extended laptop-instrument to perform highly immersive and hyper-dynamic electro-acoustic music. As a musician, live sampling is his main tool. With a joystick and other tactile controllers, live sampled source sounds are gesturally manipulated and reworked within open ended narratives. Van Heumen is continously researching new strategies for live sampling and looking for the perfect balance between free improvisation and structured music. The laptop is used in an instrumental, tactile way, connecting action to sound like any acoustic instrument. Van Heumen is performing regularly with his band Shackle (with electro-flutist Anne La Berge) and various other constellations. He's using realtime audio-synthesis software SuperCollider and STEIM's live sampling software LiSa.
Recent electro-acoustic works include the compositions SPILL, Untitled For Anne, Moving On Second and Detuning Guitar. SPILL is a composition for harp and live electronics as a musical response to fossil fuel disasters that often go unnoticed by the general public. The processed harp is sometimes cold as ice, sometimes hot as giant flames that can be seen from 20 miles away; she cries, screams, explodes, gulps and rumbles. Untitled For Anne is a piece for flute and live electronics, commissioned by Anne La Berge. It is a game of power between the flute and the computer; control is in the hands of the player, but the computer can take over if not restrained properly. Moving On Second is an installation as well as an algorithmic composition for automated instrument and SuperCollider. It is performed with Orgelpark’s Sauer organ, Owen Byrne’s metal tubes and the Disklavier. Detuning Guitar is a composition for guitar and live sampling. A research in guitar sound performed by Van Heumen together with Jasper Stadhouders and Nicole Hein. Other works include the GeluidjesFabriek (SoundlingsFactory), an sound factory using the original sounds of a certain place to produce new sound objects, and Steenklank (Sound of Brick), a soundwalk on architecture in collaboration with Anne Rooschüz, commissioned by Soundtrackcity. Van Heumen was awarded a composition stipend from the Performing Arts Fund NL.
Van Heumen documents his performances as well as his composed work on labels like Creative Sources Recordings, Evil Rabbit Records and Fridgesound. He is regularly teaching workshops on live electronics and structured improvisation, both in the Netherlands and internationally. He teaches the SuperCollider software at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Van Heumen worked for 10 years at the Studio for Electo-Instrumental Music (STEIM) in Amsterdam as project manager, curator of the Local Stop concert series and member of the artistic committee. In the theater he worked with director Dirk Groeneveld, writer Simone de Jong and choreographer Anouk van Dijk. In a previous life he was a trumpet player, mathematician and software programmer. Van Heumen is inspired by mathematicians L.E.J. Brouwer and Kurt Gödel, writers Albert Camus and Philip K. Dick, composers GM König and John Carpenter and bands Pye Corner Audio and Boards of Canada.
"The music of Shackle is truely strong and varied. There are fast, raw passages and also very subdued parts where something new can be heard every time you listen. The power of the duo is that they evoke curiosity without becoming overly abstract."
Jan Nieuwenhuis (Gonzo (circus)) on the Shackle Stick
"Digital brutalism in free form, vehement expressions, heightened efforts, wailings and atonal lamentations are all performed with uninterrupted breathing techniques - the electronic manipulation is relentless, full of powerful distortions, melancholic melodies and experimental combinations. Authentic, intricate compositions [...]."
Aurelio Cianciotta (Neural.it) on ABATTOIR
"[...] Stranger in any case represents an intriguing chapter in the output of a hardly pigeon-hole-able emerging sound artist. There's more than meets the ears, though it takes persistence to find the combination needed to enter this obscure area, halfway through the remnants of excruciating memories and the blurred idea of an uncertain future."
Massimo Ricci (The Squid's Ear) on Stranger
"The trio deliver lively and unpredictable digital high-energy bursts by working in a very dynamic and inter-active environment, where one’s merest gesture or thought is transformed instantly into powerful sweeps of crackly texturised beltage. Fine work which transcends many of the clichés and pitfalls of laptop music."
Massimo Ricci (Paris Atlantic) on SKIF++'s CD .next
"... the whole set is sensuous fun as well as intellectually stretching."
Brian Morton (The Wire) on Whistle Pig Saloon
"... dynamic, ever changing, crackling, loud and soft, buzzing and hissing. Vibrant music this is, great music, moving away from the delicate structures of microsound into the land of noise based textures."
Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly) on Fury
"This is musique concrete that has torn away from its formal, academic origins. Deconstruction and reassembly in nasty extremis."
David Stubbs (The Wire) on SKIF++'s CD SK++ [01,02,03,04,00]
"Office-R(6) literally sculpt rather than play the music using acoustic instruments and computers yeilding a music that is subtly seismic and eminently contemporary."
Musicreaction on OfficeR's CD Recording the Grain
PointCode, an online version of the audiovisual installation/composition Point-to-Line
Point-to-Line, an audiovisual installation/composition, developed with financial support from the Performing Arts Fund NL (premiere January 19, 2017, Museum De Pont Tilburg)
Curves, a structured improvisation set by Shackle and Männer mit Motoren, developed with financial support from the Performing Arts Fund NL (premiere October 31, 2016, Stadgarten Cologne)
Parish of Tama, a composition for cement mixer, clarinet, electric bass, drums and laptop-instrument composed with financial support from the Performing Arts Fund NL (premiere November 2, 2016, De Ruimte Amsterdam)
SPILL, a composition for harp and live electronics, developed in collaboration with Miriam Overlach, composed with financial support from the Performing Arts Fund NL (premiere October 18, 2015, City Museum Den Bosch)
Sacred Noise, a composition for church organ and laptop-instrument, composed with financial support from the Orgelpark (premiere November 28, 2015, Orgelpark Amsterdam)
Untitled For Anne, a composition for flute and live electronics, developed in collaboration with Anne La Berge, composed with financial support from the Performing Arts Fund NL (premiere November 28, 2015, Orgelpark Amsterdam)
Sunday Rhino, a composition for church organ, voice, cello and laptop-instrument, composed for the Orgelpark Symposium 2015 (premiere June 5, 2015)
Moving On Second, an algorithmic composition for Sauer Organ and SuperCollider (premiere June 3, 2015, Orgelpark, Amsterdam)
Detuning Guitar, a composition for acoustic guitar and live sampling, developed by Robert van Heumen and Jasper Stadhouders, performed using the Shackle System, composed with financial support from the Performing Arts Fund NL(premiere May 8, 2015, Zaal 100, Amsterdam)
GeluidjesFabriek ZAAG55, a location-specific installation in the former Bolnes Motor Factory Zaag 55, Krimpen aan de Lek, The Netherlands (premiere September 14, 2014)
MOROS, a Sci-Fi film in sound for bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet and live electronics, performed by Laura Carmichael and Oğuz Büyükberber, composed with financial support from the Performing Arts Fund NL (premiere December 14, 2014 at Splendor Amsterdam in the SlowHZ program)
A Short Piece of Decay, a composition for block flute, pan flute, viola, accordion, percussion and live electronics, commissioned by the Black Pencil ensemble (premiere July 6, 2014, Summerwinds festival in Lingen DE)
Sonata for 10 pedals, a composition for harp, Disklavier and live electronics (composition Lucas Wiegerink, sound design Robert van Heumen, premiere Aug 14, 2014, Darmstadt DE)
Money For Your Whale with Albert van Veenendaal on prepared piano: "Carefully selected preparations along with live sampling techniques twist, transpose and transform the commonplace instrument, and lead us through a constantly evolving exploration of various auditory realms."
Shackle with Anne La Berge on flute and electronics: "The power of the duo is that they evoke curiosity without becoming overly abstract."
ABATTOIR with Audrey Chen on cello and vocals: "Digital brutalism in free form, vehement expressions, heightened efforts, wailings and atonal lamentations..."
Spoon3 with Jodi Gilbert on vocals, Albert van Veenendaal on piano and Meinrad Kneer on acoustic bass: "It’s impeccable music, in which textual experiments play a key role..."
SKIF++ with Bas van Koolwijk on interactive video and Jeff Carey on laptop: "...the trio deliver lively and unpredictable digital high-energy bursts by working in a very dynamic and inter-active environment, where one’s merest gesture or thought is transformed instantly into powerful sweeps of crackly texturised beltage."
Whistle Pig Saloon with guitarist John Ferguson: "... this music exudes the grace and violence of a NASA enterprise: at times lingering in static poses on the dark side of the moon, other moments crashing face-first into the sun."
OfficeR electro-acoustic sextet: "Contrapuntal layering of all these effects provides Office-R (6) with distinctiveness - an ever-shifting interface that negates minimalist austerity while clasping on to its hypnotic effects."
The audio-visual installation Point-to-Line, January 2017
Note: due to the screen-capture process the video quality is lower than in real live.