August 7, 2013
by Richard Foster
Some small chords on a piano, a sadly singing saw: the first twenty-something seconds of Defenestration sets the tone and atmosphere for the thirteen songs that follow. Homemade Empire’s on Subroutine Records-debut is one of darkness, decay and sadness. Sad but not without a sense of hope, or as Bart De Kroon puts it on Hidden Knife: “I could have settled on heartaches and big mistakes/But instead I enjoyed the view.”
These laid back lo-fi folk songs evoke a comforting sadness, comparable to the warmth of autumn. De Kroon keeps it small – even smaller than on self-released A Brilliant Window Niche from 2010. Partly because the bulk of Defenestration is recorded live in a series of one-takes – with only one microphone – while its predecessor had Kroon playing all instruments himself, with several overdubs. This album has De Kroon surrounded with some friends, which forced him into a more song-like atmosphere. The artist himself describes A Brilliant Window Niche as “a collection of sketches and experiments”, something which Defenestration is clearly not. Songs with head and tail, finished, on a record which maintains the same ambiance throughout all the songs.
What mostly defines the sound of Homemade Empire is the clear choice for analog recording. The warmth of the tape recordings take in the background noises, thus leaving the recording itself with the mistakes in the mix. In word and music, Defenestration seems to be far from the radical act of defenestration. No throwing people out of windows, no call nor cry for revolution in these tunes. Defenestration rather gives a reassuring sound for the certain coming of decay and death. Great songs built up out of small gestures.
This article has been published before on Tjeerds blog