René van der Wouden‘s Universal Quiet is a collection of retro synth music that is a treat for fans of 70’s Berlin School music.van der Wouden is a Dutch composer and synthesist who describes his style as retro, Berliner Schule and progressive. van der Wouden builds on Klaus Schulze’s pioneering mid-seventies sound, modernizing it and taking it into new directions.
van der Wouden credits a variety of synths for his sound – including CRUMAR Bit 99, AKAI AX73, Roland JX3p, YAMAHA SY77, Roland AJ2, KURZWEIL K2500r, EMU E5000ultra, KORG Trinity and KORG T3. However, he gravitates towards classic synth sounds, featuring classic Moog-style sequences and Mellotron-style vocal samples.
In addition to building on Schulze’s vintage sound, van der Wouden uses similar forms for his tracks. Shulze’s music is very meditative and often follows a form typical in Indian classical music: a slow meditative introduction (alap), which introduces the mode, followed by a rhythmic section (jor).
In the track Pin Drop, for example, van der Wouden begins the track with drones and a variety of spacey synth effects. About a third of the way into the track, an old-school constantly changing bass sequence kicks in. Over this, van der Wouden layers a solo using a percussive synth sound, along with washes of synth strings and Melletron vocal washes.
From the title of the album, Universal Quiet, and the titles of several of the tracks, Go Quiet and Get Quieter, you might expect the music to be minimal ambient. In fact, it’s frequently very propulsive, with driving synth basses. van der Wouden effectively balances reflective sections with more aggressive sections.
The synth music style that René van der Wouden explores on Universal Quiet isn’t as cutting edge as it once was, but it’s one that justifiably loved by many electronic music fans. If you like classic seventies synth music, Universal Quiet is an album you don’t want to miss.
You can preview a track from Universal Quiet below. More samples are available at the René van der Wouden site.
- In Silence [11:04]
- Pin Drop [17:44]
- Be Quiet [10:42]
- Go Quiet [9:46]
- Get Quieter [9:41]