Genre Defiant | Maarten Rischen: Serenity? (The And Scene / 23 June 2023)

Genre Defiant
Maarten Rischen: Serenity?
(The And Scene / 23 June 2023)

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What would you call the sound and style of experimental musician and composer Maarten Rischen? It's ambient, it's emo, it's orchestral... and it's also a little rock 'n roll.

In Serenity, his new single, the soothing sounds of water intertwine with the piano and a lushly orchestrated melody that stays true to its title. While evocative, it builds up layers of sound in an ebb and flow that mirrors the water's waves.

That's not to say it's a piece that doesn't go anywhere... it meanders through slower sections to a crescendo that blends in elements of rock, with a rousing mood that feels like a chorus in an instrumental piece. Towards the end, he brings in a bit of electronic avant-garde before the waves take over again.

At 8:20, it's significantly longer than a typical song today, but that's in keeping with the unusual flavour and multiple moods of the track. The video, featuring dancer Alina Spittan, adds another dimension to the music. The music was half written and produced in studio, and half during the actual video shoot.

Maarten Rischen

Based in his native Netherlands, and Thailand, Maarten talks about his approach in a media release.

"I have a very strong negative stance on music videos in which the artist is pretending to play their instrument or lip-syncing, as it takes away any and all risk and creativity that an actual recording or live performance has - leaving either an empty or overly exaggerated ‘performance’, and none of it is what I regard as making art. 

So in many of my videos I want to only be seen with an instrument if you  actually hear that instrument, in the case of “Serenity?” it’s the Rhodes /  piano parts. Moreover, none of these parts were written in advance, and completely improvised on the spot as soon as the camera started recording. 

"The same goes for dancer Alina Spittan, who in fact heard nothing of the song before we shot the one-take video, and had no idea of the big shifts that would occur midway, or the chaotic ending. Her dance is therefore maybe the purest form of expression-in-the-moment I have ever had the pleasure witnessing, and her interpretation and interaction with me on  camera dictated strongly the direction in which may own improvisation flowed. Equally big parts were played by the completely impromptu camera decisions of In Between Raw Frames, and the bipolar weather patterns of Koh Phangan in the background."

Pesonnel: Maarten Rischen Piano, guitar, synths, drums, arrangement; Thomas van den Berg: Additional drums 


Maarten has released several albums with bands such as Tommy Ebben and The Small Town Villains, as well as composing music and performing with theatre and dance ensembles. He's also presided over several of his own music studios, and once worked in a circus. 

These days, along with his emphasis on solo work, he's also active in bands Clocktopus, And/Orchestra, and producing albums for hip-hip artists VHS.