Case Van Duzer

Case Van Duzer

A beginning, and another. Countless beginnings, clinging somewhere in memory or lying stacked in a virtual drawer, like files of self-assertion: I could choose differently, start three things at once, constantly reinvent myself. Beginning is easy, finishing more difficult. What was once begun and then laid aside, to later retrieve it and bring it to completion, it’s an effort not normally made. Instead, throw it all away, scrap it, tear it up, start something else.

Case Van Duzer likes beginnings and endings, and the striving that lies between. Old song ideas that hung unfinished in an in-between state, stored in the decaying memory of an old synthesizer to disappear together with a derailed project, ideas that existed only as a chord sequence, bits of text, or a nebulous feeling – all of this was collected, brought to completion and bundled into an album: Gift Horsie.

The story stretches back a ways. Case Van Duzer was six years old when Music literally knocked on the door. The instigator of all the beginnings, as well as the 11 endings to be heard on Gift Horsie, was a door-to-door accordian salesman working his way through an inner-city apartment building. Later came a guitar, an old flea market keyboard, a mandolin.

Music may have burst through the door early, but it was awhile before it dared to venture out again. And when it did, it was anything but clumsy and loud. With their quiet minimalism, Case Van Duzer’s songs shroud their urgency just enough that one can’t help but be fascinated by this hovering between lightness and heaviness – and of course by the uniquely fragile and yet so intense voice.

San Francisco has been a pilgrimage site for queer folk from around the world. For Case Van Duzer the city represents just one biographical marker on the long journey to an individual and endearingly strange form of folk-inspired singer-songwriterism. The artist has been calling Berlin ‘home’ for years, recording a first album here with Upscary (2012).

Gift Horsie took its final shape in the summer of 2014 in the Berlin Osthafen studio of Lonski & Classen, who appear on the album in producer and guest musician roles. From old beginnings arose completed songs. Songs full of texture, songs with bristles. One feels something when touching them: resistance, loosely knotted threads of association, soft parts one would like to caress just a bit longer.

Case Van Duzer: “Songs give me so many images, I see them like films”. These are films that tell of dying souls and true lovers, that manage to capture the stillness of a room after someone has left it, or that are about the longing to be transformed into a flower.

There are moments of transcendance, moments of sadness, but they all flicker past with such lightness, one might think in the first fleeting moment that this is a collection of sketches. Only gradually does one notice how solidly the songs are made, built on arrangements that are quietly complex and well-grounded, and which never impose themselves. Suddenly an organ somewhere murmurs, which wasn’t there before the tenth listening; in the background a flute whistles its tune of freedom. Even the “Outro” of Gift Horsie feels like a beginning, allowing one to hope for ever new endings.

Odell Wants To Be A Flower
The Birds
Little World
Intro / P.B.
Broken Parade
In A Left Room
The Long Walk
Lost Scroll Melody
True Lovers