Ton Scherpenzeel -
Achter De Schermen

(CD 2024, 57:27, OOB Records)

The tracks:
  1- Verlopen En Verlaten
  2- Omdat De Nacht
  3- De Laatste Ronde 1
  4- Alles Of Nooit
  5- De Tweede Viool
  6- Ergens In De Verte
  7- Prachtige Paprika's 1
  8- Scherven
  9- Hond Op Het Ijs 1
10- Spelen Met Je Leven
11- Tunnel Zonder Vluchtstrook 1
12- Hond Op Ijs 2
13- Prachtige Paprika's 2
14- De Laatste Ronde 2
15- Tunnel Zonder Vluchtstrook 2
16- Troost
17- Het Zelfmoordcommando
18- De waker, De Slaper En de Dromer

Website      samples      facebook      OOB Records

The Dutch keyboard player and composer Ton Scherpenzeel is best known for his work with bands such as Kayak and Camel. However, many people outside of the Netherlands don't know that he is also active as a composer for the Dutch entertainer and comedian Youp van 't Hek. Between 1984 and 2023 Ton wrote many compositions for his live performances. And sometimes he also played them with a band on stage to accompany the entertainer. For many years van 't Hek has asked Ton to do something with all the music he has written for his performances. Now with the farewell tour of the entertainer it is the right time to give this project shape with an album release. Titled Achter De Schermen (Behind The Screens).

The title Achter De Schermen (Behind The Screens) refers to the fact that most of the work on the music takes place there - invisible to the audience. Scherpenzeel himself did not always participate in the performance. But when he did play, it was often half hidden in the set, or waiting in the wings.

Achter De Schermen contains an extensive instrumental selection from the music for the 26 theatre programs that Ton provided with music. In a number of cases Ton was able to use the original recordings, other pieces were re-recorded in the studio. With Ton Scherpenzeel (piano, keyboards, accordion), Rens van der Zalm (accordeon, fiddle, mandoline, guitar, orgeland Ton Snijders (keyboards, accordeon, bass) and special guest appearances, this project transcends cultures, genres and language boundaries. In contrast to Ton's previous album Virgin Grounds (2023, see review), this project mainly highlights acoustic instruments.

What you can hear on this release is music that was created as an extra layer under the text, or frame of the performances of Youp van 't Hek. Everybody who hears the compositions knows that it doesn't have any connection with the bands Scherpenzeel has been working with music wise. It's like film music without the images.

The album contains 18 tracks with a total time of almost one complete hour. The songs are short instrumental parts of music which sound typical for movie soundtracks. The accordion is an important instrument throughout the entire album and made me think about the music of Belgian jazz musician Toots Thielemans (29 April 1922 - 22 August 2016). Think about his work on the soundtrack for Turks Fruit. Toots used the harmonica as a solo instrument together with the accordion most of the time. But no harmonica on this album but still the resemblences are there. Songs like Alles Of Nooit, Ergens In De Verte and Omdat De Nacht are good examples. But other songs are dominated by the acoustic piano as well. Good examples are Verlopen En Verlaten, Hond Op Het Ijs 1and De Tweede Viool. De Tweede Viool was released on March 15, 2024, as the only single from Achter De Schermen. The song comes from the 2011 New Year's Eve conference of the same name by Youp van 't Hek, recorded in the Groningen Stadsschouwburg. With special guest violinist Emmy Verhey, and the regular Youp companions: Ton Scherpenzeel, Rens van der Zalm (mandolin), Ton Snijders (accordion) and Christan Grotenbreg (synth). But sometimes the two instruments piano and accordion also work well together on several of the songs. Like on Troost for example. Hond Op Ijs 2 and Tunnel Zonder Vluchtstrook 2 are probably one of the few songs on which I could hear the sound of a synthesizer compared to his earlier release Virgin Grounds on which only synthesizers could be enjoyed!

Whilst listening to all of the songs you don't get the impression you are listening to a theatre performances of Youp van 't Hek. Not at all. It's more like listening to a movie soundtrack. A movie about the Holocaust for example. Or another sad story that is told in a movie. Because the music isn't up lifting at all. It's drama all over the place while listening to all of the 18 tracks. One hour long it's like listening to the soundtrack of a person who has lived a live that wasn't pleasant most of the time. It doesn't mean that the music is therefore less enjoyable. Not at all. It is the true sad songs in life that we like the most, don't we?

It's easy to say that this album becomes a real document of almost forty years of collaboration between Ton and Youp. And of course, his work with musicians such as Rens van der Zalm, Ton Snijders, Christian Grotenbreg and Emmy Verhey. But the truth is that without Youp, not a single note of this music would have been written. Because he was the one who asked him to accompany during his theatre performances musically. Without him this review would never have been written. So thanks Youp after all!

A fine album of sad songs to enjoy even if it doesn't have anything to do with progressive rock or without any traces of Kayak and Camel. Just beautiful and for everybody to enjoy!

**** Henri Strik (edited by Dave Smith)

Where to buy?

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2024