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I've carped a bit above about excess activity on the part of some of the musicians. Well, this trio of electronicists can be as active, scurrying and scrabbling as anyone...but it works. Freewheeling while managing to maintain some kind of control, they're perhaps comparable to Lehn/Schmickler in approach when they have pedal to the floor. But also quite capable of reining things in as on the lengthy "[thinner]", a fine, low, rumbling series of quivers and rustles. Good, solid recording. Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)

This CD was recorded at STEIM in 2008. It features three laptop artists: Jeff Carey, Robert van Heumen, and Bas van Koolwijk. The first two are sound artists, the third one does visuals (unrepresented on this album except for the cover artwork, but he was interacting with the musicians during the performance). Eclectic electracoustic music, rather dense, lively but not frantic, perhaps a bit short on cohesion - my attention tended to drift off. Not uninteresting, but not striking either. I’ll try to get back to it. François Couture (Monsieur Délire)

Recorded at STEIM in 2008 a trio of "laptop" ( I don't like catgorizing this way) musicians gives a rich and eclectic overview of how music generated via laptops can be. Assembled with van Koolwijk visuals is a viable and flashy base for sonic explorations which don't seem boring at all as in many cases of improvised laptop music can be. The tracks are nicely put into the form of more and less dynamic passages. I like its quivering and rustling bit which is harsh in a nice way. Steady way of work, I like it a lot... Hubert Napiorski (Felthat Reviews)

A laptop trio, this Skif++, consisting of Robert Van Heumen on a laptop playing LiSa, Jeff Carey (whom you may know as 87 Central, who plays with Super Collidor on his laptop)) and Bas van Koolwijk who plays with Jitter and is responsible for the groups' visual side. They already had a CD release on Fridgesound (see Vital Weekly 627) and now there is a new one, simply called 'Next'. If the word laptop trio scares you, thinking of microsound, careful crackles and minor beeps, then this is something you should investigate as its nothing like that at all. The first piece, cut into five separate pieces, explodes loudly in your face. A bumping collision of collidors and LiSa, with heavy bass end and noisy top end. Think Merzbow running on a random generator. A blast of laptop burning. Great, heavy weight noise, and words like carefull simply don't apply here. That happens in '[Thinner]', in which Skif++ expand their horizon and show us that they also know how to play a piece that is quiet
as well as unsettling. Maybe a bit long as a whole this piece (lasting well over twenty minutes this one), but then such is the nature of improvised music. Using computers means also that there are repeating blocks of sound, so that the average listener - say the type who is not used to improvised music - has some form to hold on to. The final two pieces are excursions again into distinctly louder music again. This is not an easy work to digest, but certainly with some great untamed power. Sadly no visuals here. Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly)

Skif++, the laptop-handling trio of Jeff Carey, Robert Van Heumen and Bas Van Koolwijk (the latter also in charge of the visual aspects of the live performances), present a difficult-to-approach yet ultimately galvanizing album whose dual nature is manifest from the outset. Framed by the bracing fragmentariness of the first and the last third of the disc, in the form of seven shorter tracks whose sheer quantity of events renders them utterly indescribable, the central nucleus is the longest track on offer, "thinner", whose gradually unfolding static waves, extraterrestrial harmonies and lunar calls, at times reminiscent of the most otherworldly Roland Kayn, are far removed from the sharp, shooting-star schizophrenia of the remaining chapters. The brain reacts unpredictably to these absurdly morphing accumulations of quirky incidents, disconnected rhythms, subsonic throbs and hyper-distorted spirals – I actually fell asleep while listening, twice. With, I'm told, a smile on my face. Massimo Ricci (Paris Transatlantic)

Jeff Carey, Robert van Heumen and Bas van Koolwijk "synchronize" their laptops, moving between SuperCollider, Lisa and Max/MSP/Jitter. Synthetic musical tremors, glitches and disturbed drones (in the first two), hyper-vivid visual sequences (in the latter) combine to create a performance with consistently intricate audio-video relationships . The recording used in this release was created in 2008 at the STEIM, an Amsterdam-based center for research and development of instruments and computer tools for electronic art, a worthy institution dedicated to multimedia experimentation. The record's dark, industrial, subdued atmospheres are channeled to condense contemporary electro-acoustic influences in suggestive ambient drifts, unfolding very "manufactured" and "manipulated" developments, but also leaving room for more suspended and sidereal interludes, which are always overwhelmed by fractures, elliptical crackles and digital lamentations. Uncompromising sounds, organized in structures, but then performed "improvisationally", prove that happy developments and insights are in play even at these stylistic latitudes. Aurelio Cianciotta (Neural)

A trio of laptoppists that more than one review compares to rockstars, so well regarded are they. However, Jeff Carey, Robert van Heumann and Bas van Koolwijk make a kind of music most unlike a lot of laptop sound. The first and last improvisations here are rapid successions of sounds and textures that are difficult to process, memory being of no aid. The dizzying parade of howls, chatterring, warbling tones and grainy clicks can be quite jarring and very alien sounding. At the same time, things move so quickly that the chance of becoming bored is almost nil.

The longest track here ,"thinner" (indeed!), slows things down considerably, and takes its time assembling a more careful and cohesive statement. Sounds hang around longer and transform more slowly, starting from a base of winds and insectile chirping. There's a bit of that weird heterodyning effect that's often on evidence with digital sound, and in this context it adds to the overall coldness of the music, one that could only be made with technology. This is not a criticism of SKIF++'s work, indeed one of their stated aims seems to be to expose the sound-making and altering devices for what they are, and even turn them against themselves, bringing to mind all manner of philosophical ponderings perhaps better left to others. I prefer to listen as the sounds uncoil out of the speakers. A mid-section of quiet beeping and gentle burble/crackle is particularly nice, even more so as it hangs around for a while. I was often reminded of recordings I've heard of sound from space, albeit a bit more unnatural sounding, no doubt due to the machines involved.

The liner notes state Bas van Koolwijk's contribution to be "interactive visuals", and are described as an integral part of the live performances by SKIFF++. I had to wonder then why said visuals are not represented on this release except as cover graphics. A trip to their web site gave me an example of van Koolwijk's contribution. I cannot say at this point whether the music was any better or worse with the graphic representation of the sounds, just different, giving the mind a different context, rather like an odd cross of a scientific display and a feature film for robots. Jeph Jerman (The Squid's Ear)