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Conceptually boring sounds turning non-boring by means of John Cage’s ideas, how sounds can change you following Karlheinz Stockhausen’s trains of thought and desireless being inside music as the best place to be as exemplified by Terry Riley form the backbone of 1 by Radbous Mens and Matthijs Kouw. Abstract modular drones, barely there in terms of rhythm, weave in and out of an evolving aural field like the protuberances thinning out at the edges of Mark Rothko’s fields of colour gently being washed out into the base plane. Mens and Kouw’s figures level out around pulsating and undulating frequencies in a GRM-like symphony which is indebted as much to the aforementioned composers as it is to visual artists such as Agnes Martin and Alan Charlton. Recorded live in the studio Mens and Kouw experiment with the ease and unease with which domesticated and habituated frequencies work within our bodies; both mentally and physiologically. The results are appeasing, easing and peaceful but surprisingly enough subtle movements and slight shifts produce a confusing, complex mesh of dense drone – colliding tones, clusters forming in space like thin layers of almost washed out white paint collecting nuance and grey-ish moiré overlays. Dynamic turns do not necessarily seem to occur by means of controlled volume masses in crescendo or diminuendo, but grow almost naturally from accretion of non-habitual waves grinding along side each other. No head-on collisions here but a slow bend in and blend of acoustic phenomena where minimal tonal material produces massive (literally) results in terms of tactile, immersive monumentality in aural power. A record that produces magnitude in the shades thrown by towering sine waves. (Vital Weekly - Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg)

Radboud Mens and Matthijs Kouw have been working together for quite some time now, but “1” is the first collaborative effort I have heard from them. The album takes the form of two long-form drones, each piece ostensibly a single chord held for around twenty minutes, though in each case the chord changes substantially over that duration. The titles of the pieces seem to indicate the root notes of the chords in Western musical notation: F for the first piece, A for the second. Each piece begins with a deep sustained bass note establishing the root of the chord. Then faint glimmers of other tones begin to emerge, and the chord builds in energy and complexity. Interactions between the notes of the chord, and between the notes and the environment in which they sound, create a rich tapestry of resonances, rings, oscillations, and overtones; the sounds transform themselves without much in the way of obvious gestural interventions from the two musicians. Indeed, I half-wondered whether the two tracks were created via some sort of algorithm that takes the starting note as its initial parameter, then builds the piece autonomously based on feedback detected as the chord emerges, though perhaps this is a little too far-fetched. What’s interesting is that the two pieces make quite different impressions, despite the similarity of their forms. ‘F’ has perhaps the most momentum, its pulsating, thrumming mass evocative of breathing in and out or of waves breaking in slow-motion on a shore. In contrast, ‘A’ is a majestic ocean liner gliding serenely and perhaps a little euphorically into port. From what sound (probably deceptively) like such simple ideas, not one, but two weighty and attractive pieces of music emerge. (Fluid Radio - Nathan Thomas)

The basic motto for this album is a quote from John Cage: “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” This is especially true when listening to what we call drone music. If you listen to drones at the wrong moment, for the wrong reasons, without the right mindset or intention, you might dismiss it as boring. And it may very well be boring – but it is intentionally so. If you surrender yourself to the sound, immerse yourself it, can be receptive to its many details, it opens up a world of timeless wonders. Miraculous waves of sound interacting with your body, your location, your hearing, your perception. Radboud Mens and Matthijs Kouw have previously worked together, exploring all kinds of experimental electronic music. Their collaboration for this album is the first of a two-part album, recorded live in the studio in December 2014. This edition presents two minimalistic electro-acoustic drones, created using software, recordings of acoustic instruments and a modular synth. The tracks, each around 20 minutes, are effectively called “F” and “A”. The start of each piece is like adjusting to a tuning fork. Once you’re tuned to the basic sound you can simply wait for the variations to start happening. The funny thing is: it never gets boring, not even after 2 x 20 minutes. So, if you want to test Cage’s statement, you’ll have to put it on repeat! (Ambientblog - Peter van Cooten )


released February 15, 2017



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Radboud Mens Rotterdam, Netherlands

Radboud Mens is a sound-artist, composer and sound designer. Next to his solo work, he has worked with a broad variety of artists, including Stephan Mathieu, Janek Schaefer and Timebllind, voice-artist Jaap Blonk, guitarist Dan Armstrong (as Fitness Landscape), Michel Banabila, Mark Poysden (as Alignment), Craig Ward (ex-Deus), and Matthijs Kouw. ... more

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