Image © AKH Records 2004
Stella Bergsma (vocals)
Image © AKH Records 2004
(23 July 2006) Everything Nothing (AKH Records (Netherlands) AKH 07041-2, 2004) is the soundtrack to a dark, brooding David Lynchian drama that has yet to be made. Or is it in fact more of a black comedy? Singer, diva and leading actress Stella Bergsma sometimes brings her lines quite serious, leaving the viewer in vein, but sometimes too, she utters her dark unpenetrable words claerly with a tongue-in-cheek. But when she is serious, something in her voice sounds rather light, almost incidentally, possibly as a way to bring some kind of balance between song and that which is sung. Or spoken for that matter. Or whispered. In any case, the audience goes a little astary, gets lost in the entanglement of form and substance--something any good film noir should accomplish.
Iuno, the two-person-formation (Mr. Steven de Munnik, arranger / producer; aforementioned Miss Stella Bergsma, vocalist) is seeded in the heart of Holland's midtown Bussum, and garantees moody, atmospherical and dank nightclub vocals, playful but razorsharp lyrics (often on the brink of being self-destructive and mirror-like confronting), and mesmerising music that is a perfect blend of dark ambient, soundscapes and experimental sound fx. E-jazz for the lost and mentally homeless.
But Steven and partner-in-crime Stella are not all alone out there. They are backed up by The IunoLab, an diverse ensemble of artists, like a violin player, and technicians, who, together, pull out all the stops in offering you a dark trip straight down the mental spiral. As tender as it is merciless, as erotic as it is psychological horror. Perhaps mindbending is the best term to use, with a little more emphasis on a kind of Cronenberg-like audio-physical deformation as a result.
Soundeffects are used extensively, original in one take, otherworldy if you wish, and on other occasions deliberatly cheesy; everything for a digital Grande Guignol; atonal, cinematic and filled with flares of the melancholy, the weird and the awkward. It’s originallity hidden behind pastiche, and pastiche hidden behind originallity: a truely greater festival of masks.
Take for instance the opening track: "Everything": I can see / everything is beautiful / but me ... the abandoned, battered diva, (who apparently stepped straight out of a Edward Hopper painting) sings these lines with a clear voice--almost too clear; never has a woman sounded so self asured when it comes to selfloathing.
"Baby, just sing to me only with labyrinthian eyes..." I keep thinking. But the singer doesn’t hear me. She just sings, breathing heavenly, like she’s masturbating, while, at the same time, she's sticking out her tongue in the mirror to the person she regretfully sees before her. Steven de Munnik's lazy, deliberatly paced drums, that accompany her on this trip, are in straight line with the drugged organ tunes and the obligatory B-movie sound fx.
The singer sings: "Ocean's waves / Coral caves / Poet's skies / Lover's lies / Young men's eyes ... so in the end the battered, shadow-covered nightclubsinger is also a poet,
albeit one with a tongue that tastes like accid.
Iuno has always stated that they were and still are being influenced by soundtracks of horror movies and psychological
thrillers, and that's fine, just don't expect a happy Hollywood ending here with these guys.--Yorgos Dalman in The Netherlands and Russ Elliot in New York