Wim Mertens Struggle For Pleasure

[Les Disques Du Crepuscule; 1983]

Styles: new age, minimalist composition, ambient
Others: Phillip Glass, Brian Eno, Steve Reich


"Ta-ta! Give that CD to Dad!"

"Why can't I leave the table? I ate some of the megetables!"

"I don't wanna go to bed! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..."

And so proceeds a typical day in my household, where music is often not given the energy it deserves. Between my family and my music, there's nothing I love more in the world. Unfortunately, I have to choose between the two of at times – this is my personal Struggle For Pleasure.

Belgian minimalist composer Wim Mertens' album of the same name emulates this oxymoronic state, trapped between stress and relaxation. In six short suites, this 1983 record would be considered an EP by today's 80-minute standards. Straddling the fence between the lulling repetition of Phillip Glass and the ambient spaces of Harold Budd, Struggle For Pleasure never ceases to be interesting.

There is a particularly nautical feeling to much of the music. "Salernes" and "Gentleman of Leisure" sound like they were scored for a sailing sequence in a film, or perhaps The Legend of Zelda. Though technically his fourth release, this was the first album performed by Mertens' newly-assembled Soft Verdict ensemble. This additional instrumentation served to better a great deal of his work, though some would argue that the title track is not in need of any further instrumentation than its strident lead piano.

The obvious, shining moment on this album was also, naturally, its biggest hit – "Close Cover". The entire album is worth hearing even if just for those three small minutes. Struggle For Pleasure is an excellent place to begin if you're new to Mertens' work, but it is far from comprehensive, considering the 25 years his recording career has spanned. It does remain one of his most enjoyable outputs to date, and gives you a taste of some of his creations. Though if you wish to enjoy the music to its fullest, I recommend waiting until your children are finished nagging you for chocolate milk.

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