I ran into this remarkable release on the Belgium Db2Fluctuation EM-event in February 2020. The concept-album The Hageland, a double cd limited to 300 physical copies, is the debut of Belgium DJ and producer Bart Van Meulebroeck aka Nevel. It’s named after a region of the same name situated between the Belgian cities of Leuven and Diest and pays homage to and is an audio painting of the region’s varied landscape of multiple hillsides, forests and open plains. To express that, all tracks -accompanied by a range of environmental recordings- are named after actual places and streets.
You though will be in for a surprise if you expect the outcome to be something like the soundscape recordings of Matthew Florianz as the vibrant music on the first cd (“The Hike”) is a mixture of melodic EDM dressed with dub, new wave and synthwave elements.
On the second disc (entitled “The Cooldown” and great for headphone listening), things shift to a slow, more reflective mode with cinematic down-tempo ambient dressed occasionally with nature recordings and an overall calm vibe. Here, Nevel comes up with warm, immersive tracks such as “Plein”, taking the ethereal avenue on “Stenenkruisstraat” while delving into dark, enigmatic environs on the final tracks “Doodbroek” and “Stort”. All in all, “The Hageland” paints beautifully shaped electro ambiences of high, transportive quality. All in all an exceptional release I recommend highly.
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