Sjaak Overgaauw is a Belgian musician who only a year ago assumed the name Premonition Factory and launched his solo career. Nearly everything about this project is done with exquisite taste and the utmost care to detail, from the imaginative and suggestive monicker to the gorgeous packaging. (My only complaint is with the hackneyed track titles.)

The easy way out is to state that Premonition Factory fills the gap left in ambient music since Dirk Serries abandoned his Vidna Obmana project, especially since the fellow-Belgian is listed as ”album consultant” in the liner notes. But though there are strong family resemblances, the music of 59 Airplanes Waiting for New York  proves that Overgaauw is entirely his own man.

His only instrument is the synthesizer and he is adroit at coaxing a warm, wordless poetry out of the machine. Like the best, classically-defined ambient music, it scents the air rather than assaulting the senses. Like Serries, he is a master at delaying gratification, as the music seems to hover when it actually moves slowly, deliberately, reshaping as constantly and unpredictably as the clouds scudding across the sky. And like him, it seems strangely organic, it seems to breathe, particularly on ”The Future Will Be Whatever We Make It”.

The title track is music for airports of almost symphonic proportions, as a piano melody wanders aimlessly to pass the time as waves of strings arch and stretch overhead. The long, closing track, “Only Birds Know Where to Fly”, seems to channel the earliest cosmic and ambient music; it sounds familiar, and analogue, though it is neither.

Divided into six pieces, 59 Airplanes is still cut from whole cloth, resulting in an absorbing fifty minutes, engaging and enchanting but with a dark undercurrent lurking deep below its surface.

Stephen Fruitman