Rinus van Alebeek is usually noted here as curator of the unique releases on his own Staaltape label, which he is kind enough to send us, but he’s here today published on the Tutore Burlato label run by the equally unique fellow Ezio Piermatttei. How To Forget (TUTORE BURLATO 20) is probably one of the most personal and heartfelt releases Rinus has assembled; it has something to do with painful memories, of lost history, of leaving the past behind. He thinks it’s very important to forget things; to use his own expression, “to remember everything in detail is impossible; it would hurt too much and make life unbearable.”
To achieve this, he has deliberately visited parts of Poland that were occupied by the Germans during WWII, and explored buildings, objects, familiar things like bricks and stairways; it’s all part of a plan to connect to the past, to a way of life that has vanished. He goes even further on side two, making observations and impressions of a former Jewish neighbourhood in Krakow. He is focussed – some might say highly preoccupied – with an era that is past, and looks for traces of it in the physical ghosts and shells that remain. This is done with several sources – found tapes, spoken words, field recordings, music – and assembled using his highly intuitive collage method, which (to me) is much more effective than William Burroughs when it comes to allowing condensed blocks of the truth to leak out.
I especially like the way he claims to be dealing with the “real and imagined”; maybe he’s as much a novelist as he is a documentary sound artist, and he reserves the right to exercise his imaginative faculties. This is what gives How To Forget a certain compelling quality; it’s almost like a story, a sketchy radio play, where details are obliterated, characters only appear in a hazy, distant manner, and events are happening in the wrong order. Only Mark Vernon has come close to realising this kind of powerful narrative-essay-poem in sound. The story-telling is all part of van Alebeek’s strategy; for him, telling stories, making repeatable narratives, is what makes the unbearable past something we can live with. Profoundly sorrowful; an essential piece of work. From 11 June 2019.