This esteemed minimalist composer and lute player from Maastricht (via Brooklyn) has built his reputation on modern classical tones and extensive touring.
He’s also won the Soundtrack Award at Cannes for his work on Jim Jarmusch’s vampire flick Only Lovers Left Alive, and some of the darkness of that transfers to this latest solo album. Medieval lute flavours from his earlier work have clearly stuck around, but this is an altogether freer, more avant-garde work of the darkest of folk. Van Wissem has created a sparse yet strangely emotional world, peppered with old spoken-word recordings and ambient electronic twists. These work by turns to soothing and harrowing effect. It’s the sort of thing you’d imagine accompanying a film or photo series from Steven Wilson’s visual analogue, Laisse Hoile. Eerie hints of choral backing and other‑worldly vocals from gothic/classical/electronic singer-songwriter Zola Jesus in Ruins generate a darkly cinematic take on his established lute stylings. Ultimately, van Wissem’s lute, in its purest form, is still the star of the show, proving what a wonderful range of historical and cutting-edge sounds it’s capable of.