September 26th 2019
Radboud Mens is a sound-artist, composer and sound designer who is working with sound since 1982. He started creating noise-machines in 1988. In the early 90’s he attached contact-microphones to dog’s brushes that he used to destroy vinyl records by scratch-playing them, boosting the signal through broken cassette-decks and recording the results. Since many years he builts his own acoustic instruments and sound-installations, like bass-recorder flutes, long string installations, dronemachines and guitars that are played by transducers. These instruments and installations are used in liveconcerts. The recordings are used in new compositions.
Together with Geert-Jan Hobijn he forms the core of Staalplaat Soundsystem. They built sit-specific sound-installations from all the tools, toys, contraptions, appliances, vehicles, buildings, trees, and environments that share our domestic chores, work days, daily lives and urban existence. The talents of the objects and spaces in these sound systems have always been known. Their reputations as performers were overshadowed for a period of time by home audio gear but then that too became an appliance. Radios, turntables, consumer electronic surround sound systems, in fact, are servile in comparison, subservient to a music made elsewhere, whereas give them a little electrical juice and so-called convenience items are happy to perform their own work live anytime anywhere. They perform themselves much like singers in that they are their own instruments. Sometimes they have solos; other times they disappear en masse into the surrounding architecture like Gregorian chant. Their performances are well received by audiences because people have performed on the same instruments. Only a small percentage of an audience will have played, say, a violin; those who have appreciate excellence when they hear it. Most everyone has played a vacuum cleaner or honked a car’s horn; they too seek out their ensembles, their virtuosos. It is more than that. As babies we fall asleep to a clothes dryer’s white noise lullaby, as kids we become entranced by a lopsided spin cycle. As adults we may not be accustomed to seeing our toasters collectively express themselves, but when was the last time a violinist made you breakfast?
Radboud Mens has worked with a broad variety of sound artists and composers, including Staalplaat Soundsystem, OHM, Stephan Mathieu, Janek Schaefer, voice-artist Jaap Blonk, Michel Banabila, Craig Ward (ex-Deus). His music has been released by Staalplaat, Mutek_Rec, No Rent Records, ERS, Noise Museum, Tapu Records and Touch. In live situations he collaborated with video-artists such as Remco Schuurbiers, Marco Douma, Bas van Koolwijk and Jpech.