Eric de Vries - My Battle

Eric de Vries
My Battle
Hands Productions

I have to be straight with you, dear ID:YD readers; even more so than usual mortality’s been on my mind for entirely personal, if not necessarily remarkable, reasons. Sorry for the cryptic opening, but it’s with that in the back of my mind that I’m mulling over My Battle, the first solo LP from Eric de Vries, one half of rhythmic noise legends Winterkälte.

Of course, it being the first solo work from someone with 30 years of work alongside partner Udo Wiessmann, helping to define the legacy of rhythmic noise as well as Wiessmann’s Hands Productions label, makes My Battle unique in and of itself. That its timing and themes specifically draw upon de Vries’ ongoing fight with brain cancer are instructive here; no matter how much of a support system one has, cancer is inextricable from one’s own embodiment. The stridence and determination of tracks like “I Kill My Endboss” and “Marching Without Fear” underline this.

But if those things add a new (and somewhat tragic) poignancy to My Battle, the things which are familiar about the record have a sense of triumph. To wit, if you like classic Winterkälte, you’ll love this record.My Battle is shot through with the rhythmic immediacy de Vries’ work with Wiessmann has always had, and the almost jazz-like sense of swing and modulation of the initial rhythmic noise setup of its tracks makes it a dynamic listen but one with a sustained sense of energy. “I Kill My Endboss” morphs from snaky and confusing platforms of echo to wet squalls of feedback which punctuate its kicks, and “Maximum Chemical” builds to a labyrinthine tapestry of polyrhythms.

Anyone who’s seen de Vries’ live drumming as part of Winterkälte will have that experience brought back to mind listening to My Battle, and it’s clear that he’s channeling that same energy into this larger struggle he’s engaged in. But whether from the position of immediacy de Vries is in or that of simply recognizing the reality and inevitability of such struggles, no simple bromides or reserves of determination guarantee our futures, as the bludgeoning, numbing greyness of the kicks in closer “The High Before Decay” remind us. Whether we defeat The Big C ourselves or not, eventually something’s got our number. We could all hope to face it with the resolve de Vries has here.

Buy it.