Music For Speakers
ost in the darkened forest, traipsing through woodland, bush and bog - a flashlight the only complement to the large full moon. Wander further into the murkiness... it gets damper, it gets deeper. Forest turns to thicket and sounds are heard all around - crunching, munching, inhuman noises. Then from behind is a voice, ghostly and deep. It asks: “Do you like the smell of fear?”
The voice belongs to Harco Pront who happens to be singing “Lonesome Devil”, the first song on his acclaimed debut album, Jibberish. The 29-year-old king of the Dutch swamp-song sits perched on a rock next to a small body of water reciting broken rhyme to the pondlife swimming through the mud. The slime, the bog, the creatures and spirits of the night back him up, croaking and gurgling to Harco’s songs.
Once in a while Pront will leave his marshy home and head on into the city to attend exclusive subterranean nightspots where they play only the best music from Prince, Aphex Twin, Tom Waits and Beck. He sits, he listens, he goes back to his cave and next day, guitar in hand, tape recorder in the other, starts to mimic the sounds of the night before. The songs he sings are short and many, for Harco likes a lot of the things he hears.
No thumbs in dykes here – this is an anything goes affair where the genre floodgates are wide open. One minute he’s playing Howling Wolf blues, the next funky microhouse; but this creature is no mere chameleon – yes he can adapt to his surroundings but Pront always maintains a rare quality to his tracks not often seen from other “eclectic” acts. His production is sludgy and granular yet always on point, allowing him to leap from style to style without any continuity problems. Acoustic ballads follow squelchy techno tracks follow dark and dirty hiphop numbers, each lasting a maximum of two minutes – often a lot less. Harco’s greatest asset is his ability to get away with it, consistently pulling off each style without hamming up his performance or relying on smart-arsery to win over his audience. Everything Pront plays is for himself and his nocturnal pals and that’s what makes this Dutch wonder unique.
It’s high time we heard some great music coming from the Netherlands. Given their noted appreciation for all things herbal, you’d think the Dutch would want to listen to other things than Gabba Techno, 2 Unlimited and them that did that song “Venus” by Bananarama. Harco Pront has chosen the right time to venture towards the big city lights to present our favourite stoners with his finely honed meesterschap.
Until then, let’s hope Harco returns to his vibrant wilderness and comes back soon with much more lovely muddy stuff for us to wallow in.
Reviewed by: Charlie Frame
Reviewed on: 2004-08-03