Rob Van/(Heavy) Mental

VOD 138-04LP VOD 138-04LP

Pop drones and minimal synth from the Dutch mountains. This LP, which is also available as part of the expansive 80's Minimal.Synth.Wave: Volume III box set (VOD 138LP), covers the early-'80s work of Rob van Wijngaarden. It opens with captivating minimal synth instrumentals from his 1981 split cassette with Les Chats as Rob Van, originally released on Ptôse's Ptôse Production Présente label. Recording sound on sound, always using the first take for each layer, van Wijngaarden created a series of dark, moody, melodic pieces inspired by Bowie's Low (1977) and punk's DIY attitude. Van Wijngaarden founded Heavy Mental some time in 1980 for his contribution to Dutch post-punk label Plurex's 17 to 7 on 33 compilation EP, included here. Van Wijngaarden enlisted his friend Jacob Baars, who owned a guitar, and bought a Korg MS-20 synthesizer and a Revox A-77 tape deck (inspired by its mention in the notes of Eno's Discreet Music (1975)). The band played several gigs (including a supporting slot for Bush Tetras) in several incarnations. They later changed their name to Mental and continued as a trio, with Baars and Hans Deen on guitars and van Wijngaarden on drum machine and synthesizer; their sound was a grunge-like wall of guitars over industrial bass, with one-chord songs lacking any verse-chorus structure. The trio was at its best in live performance, a power captured here on "Charles Manson," originally released on the 1981 Wpk Festival compilation cassette, as well as two tracks from the Mental Live cassette, originally released in 1981 on van Wijngaarden's Mental Cassettes label. Van Wijngaarden was part of the cassette-trading scene that Throbbing Gristle's Industrial Records newsletter had helped to foster; he occasionally mailed out one-off cassettes hours after recording them, and tracks from one of these extremely rare tapes are included here. One of the tape-traders with whom van Wijngaarden exchanged work was Ruud Kluivers, who sent Heavy Mental their only letter after hearing 17 to 7 on 33. Kluivers had an MS-20 too, and wanted to jam; a 1981 collaboration with van Wijngaarden is represented here as well. The collection also includes a few tracks from other splits and compilations released between 1980 and 1982. There are many tales about the Dutch post-punk movement, and most are probably more captivating than this one, but van Wijngaarden's work is just as intense as anything that was happening in the Netherlands at the time.