On her first album at Native DSD Music, violinist Merel Vercammen recorded free improvisations with eight duo partners. The result is a double album of 25 tracks and over 130 minutes of music.
The album features a collection of intuitive, instant compositions, that reminded her of animals. So Merel named it "The Zoo", a place without chains or cages, a garden where every animal (or in this case musician) can move about freely.
The recording was divided over five days with two major sessions, one at Old St. Victor Church, a small 15th Century church in Batenburg. The other session was recorded at the Orgelpark in Amsterdam, with a great selection of organs and (historical) pianos to choose from.
The 8 musicians Merel chose to improvise with are (in chronological order of recording):
- Maya Fridman (Cello)
- Bernadeta Astari (Voice)
- Vincent Houdijk (Vibraphone & Singing Bowls)
- Ties Mellema (Baritone Saxophone)
- Wilco Oomkes (Accordion)
- Tobias Borsboom (Piano)
- Rembrandt Frerichs (Érard Piano)
- Jaap Zwart (Organ)
Native DSD Music listeners will recognize cellist Maya Fridman and pianist Rembrandt Frerichs as musicians who have graced our DSD webstore with earlier DSD releases (1 from Rembrandt Frerichs and 6 from Maya Fridman linked below).
Session One: Old St. Victor Church, Batenburg
In this beautiful little church, all the non-keyboard instrumentalists were recorded. The church has an incredible reverb to it, much longer and more diffuse than you’d assume by the looks of it.
Especially for the Surround Sound edition of The Zoo, we wanted to put this special reverb on display as well as possible. This resulted in us choosing the DPA d:dicate 4006A omnidirectional microphones in a 5-channel surround configuration. Merel and her improvisation partners were each given their own spot microphone, a DPA d:dicate 4015 sub-cardioid microphone.
Everything was connected through custom-made Furutech microphone cables, into the Merging Technologies HAPI. No additional equalization, compression or limiting was applied – even to the massive-sounding baritone sax of Ties Mellema!
Session Two – Orgelpark, Amsterdam
For the second session, with pianists Tobias Borsboom and Rembrandt Frerichs, as well as organist Jaap Zwart, the famous Orgelpark in Amsterdam was chosen as recording location. This because of its great organs and its historical Érard grand piano, on which Rembrandt Frerichs played.
Here, we also used the DPA 4006A microphones in conjunction with the 4015A sub-cardioids as spot mics. The result is the beautiful, lush reverb of the Orgelpark, but with enough directivity on the instruments. No EQ or compression applied whatsoever.
When we got to record Jaap Zwart on the organ, the immediate problem of height difference was noticable – the organ is high up on the walls of the venue. We therefore had to adjust our microphone height by almost two meters. To compensate for that, we had to build Merel a 1.2-meter tall platform to play on, to get back into the stereo image in much the same way that she had been for the other session, as to not shift the sound stage too much between tracks on the album.
Now it's time for you, the listener, to sit back and enjoy the music at The Zoo!