For Premonition Factory mastermind Sjaak Overgaauw, staying true to the emotional resonance and sonic foundations of the ambient genre has always been essential. At the same time, merely paying homage has never been enough for him. Over the course of four albums within two years, he has come ever closer to carving out a distinct style of his own, fusing the sound of legends like Brian Eno and Steve Roach with an uncompromising live approach: Overgaauw’s releases are invariably culled from long sessions recorded over the course of several months, which are later evaluated and edited. As such, each album contains the essence of up to twenty hours of material, with individual tracks representing snapshots of extensive improvisations.
Considering his love for Krautrock and the work of David Sylvian, it should seem only apt that Premonition Factory places great importance on hardware and physical performance. It is a philosophy which has turned Overgaauw’s gigs into far more captivating experiences than the somewhat safe software routines of some of his colleagues and which he puts into practise by creating textures and themes a few days ahead of the gig, rehearsing with them to create a sense of shape and direction and then abandoning them to leave enough freedom for improvisation during the actual performance. One of the best opportunities to see this philosophy in action is the Antwerp Ambient event, organised by Overgaauw himself at his home town Antwerp most prestigious live space, Luchtbal.
The freshness of his stage appearances has colored off on the studio material: On his latest full-length The Theory of Nothing, external influences are disappearing behind an increasingly minimal approach, with pieces opening up expansive spaces and lingering in the mould between dream and reality. Premonition Factory is becoming more intense and quiet at the same time – which may seem like a contradiction, but is the logical consequence of Overgaauw’s love for an element all too often neglected in music – silence: “The most beautiful moment during live concerts is the fade out: once you’ve reached silence, the silence becomes part of the performance. And that’s an incredible feeling.”