‘A Concrete Pasture’ by Coen Oscar Polack is the follow-up to ‘Haarlemmerhout’ (2020), an album named after a park close to his home in Haarlem in the Netherlands. ‘A Concrete Pasture’ brings Polack’s interest in exploring the larger world around him back into his music. Polack is a magician in combining field recordings from all over the world, be it a temple in Bangkok, the Dutch Wadden Islands or a the percussive Gamelan instruments, and electronic processing of these recordings. With all these ingredients he creates a vivid, nostalgic, futuristic but familiar world of sounds and emotions.
At first, the colors of the recordings seem scattered, the sounds unrelated, but there is a deeper train of thought running through the music. It is the persistent impression of a travelogue; of places, family and friends, helping Polack in co-creating his music. In ‘Cuore Nero’, nostalgic powerchords are composed into tapestries of ambient-noise, ‘Unseen Shores’ uses a recomposed recording of Polack’s children on the Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog and develops into visceral, almost spiritual music, and a field recording of Wat Po in Bangkok in ‘Phra Buddhasaiyas’ becomes a luminous homage that the incorporated guitar sound burns into your skull.
While listening, it becomes evident that Polack is being reflective in auditive images and memory, giving a meaning to a music that is liberated of its formalities and charged with a poignant imagery by transformation, one that is bright and lucid and respects the process from recording until ornamentation.
The longest piece of the album ‘Kraaiennest’, starts with the recording of a Hong Kong traffic light, later to be cut up and transformed into a technoid Musique Concrète piece, with a slow progression into a warm crescendo-decrescendo themed electroacoustic piece, which takes on a life on its own. The finale is Polack on this tenor saxophone putting a stamp on the completion of his work, a performance reminiscing of the raw expressiveness of Albert Ayler.
‘A Concrete Pasture’ points to a landscape, or to a person’s current situation in life. Coen Oscar Polack did himself justice by writing an elegant, vibrant album, a tribute to his reflection of reality, his aesthetics, and with raw authenticity and skill, leaving a great space for the audience’s imagination.