Maarten Rischen, "Serenity?" Single (Review)

Maarten Rischen,

Experimentation is fascinating as a prospect. I mean, artists hedging their bets on it as a means to an end could fail miserably in a disastrous endeavor. But then there are enigmas like Maarten Rischen. From the Netherlands, Rischen debuts his first single under his own name. But, he's already racked up quite a music history as a drummer for Shaking Godspeed, before that he played keyboards for Tommy Ebben & The Small Town Villains, worked at a circus, and has done many other things that are too numerous to name here. Yes, this guy already has the cred he needs to go his own way. What are we to expect from his debut single "Serenity"?


Maarten Rischen's "Serenity?" Challenge

First, Maarten went on record saying that the video format of this song takes priority. The reasons for this are obvious in that visuals get more attention but, he's also making a point to spotlight the aesthetic of the music video. 

" least equally important to the music is the accompanying video, as the music is half written and produced in the studio, half written/composed and played during the shoot of the video."

That being established, we now have the setup for what Rischen intends for the video to convey. 

"I have a very strong negative stance on music videos in which the artist is pretending to play their instrument or lip-syncing, as it takes away any and all risk and creativity that an actual recording or live performance has - leaving either an empty or overly exaggerated ‘performance’, and none of it is what I regard as making art."

When the video begins, dancer Alina Spittan looks like one of those ballet dancer figures on a music box. She pops and locks for a bit while Maarten constructs a single melodic layer which quickly becomes two and then it becomes more complex. At about 0:40, you can hear the studio mix come in. The changes come in at about 2:22, eeriness with some animation. Those changes force the track to transform into something completely different as the melody we started with is put to the side. It looks like Alina is feeling the transition too as she gyrates into a new form. 

At 3:22, percussion comes in and Maarten brings that melody back and everything begins to swirl together when the rhythm settles at 3:40 now with what sounds like electric guitars. We get more effects in the video with traces and cuts of Alina's dance moves. This particular section reminds me of the final scenes of Roosevelt's "Shadows" video where Mack begins to dance. At 4:36, the track takes a different turn forcing her dance moves to change, returning to the variations from the beginning of the track. At 6:12 there is yet another change, but this time, the music deteriorates into their surroundings, which is Thailand where the video was shot.




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What's been said about Rischen's approach to this work is the experimental angle where these changes are part of the process. To throw something at the wall and see what sticks. Whether this works or not is of course subjective. When the artist challenges themself, they usually do so at their most vulnerable moments. That's probably why those transitional moments in "Serenity?" seem strange where they happen when you least expect it. Chances are it's when Maarten least expects them, too. 

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