Pieter de Graaf (NL)
Like any true artist, Pieter de Graaf has always pushed himself creatively, and Vortex – his new five-track EP – is the sound of him doing precisely that. Fresh from the success of Fermata, his acclaimed debut album, de Graaf found himself leaning in a new musical direction and experimenting with loops and electronica. But having already incorporated a few such elements into his live show, he wanted to go further – to reimagine what his music could be. And so, alongside long-time collaborator and producer Jonas Pap, de Graaf recruited revered beat-maker and multi-instrumentalist Binkbeats.
“Both of them had a huge influence,” says de Graaf of their studio sessions. “Binkbeats inspired me and came up with stuff I never would have.” Their impact is clear across Vortex’s mesmerizing soundscapes; the hypnotic, jittery outro of ‘The Star Shift’, and the gloomy, foreboding shuffling of the title track representing the starkest departures from de Graaf’s previous work. Even the title alludes to the whirlwind of writing and recording that birthed Vortex, a far cry from de Graaf’s usual studied, patient approach.
Yet Vortex is unmistakably de Graaf, full of delicate little passages and a sense of spiritual immediacy. “My goal was to combine experimental piano sounds with traditional melodies,” he explains, and he’s succeeded; Vortex is a rich listen, replete with unexpected textures and passages of hushed contemplation. Above all, it’s an evolution of Fermata’s warm romanticism and majesty. “It’s all a process,” says de Graaf of his music thus far, “and this is another step forward.” It’s also a step that confirms his flourishing talent; pushing, and restless curiosity, is serving de Graaf well.