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the dragon is still alive

by T'iju T'iju

  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Deluxe 12" vinyl in handmade cover, with letterpress prints and risograph inlay.

    Includes unlimited streaming of the dragon is still alive via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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    edition of 200 
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  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      €7 EUR  or more


  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 119 Esc.rec. releases available on Bandcamp and save 60%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of the dragon is still alive, The Hope Realm, PICK & MIX 02, Nieuwe Electronische Waar 18, Movements for Listening, The Dirt, Flying Ginsu VII, Paesaggi integrati, and 111 more. , and , .

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Blue Birds 08:43
New Grass 10:43


Having hung his hat in the past on collaborative projects such as The Paper Ensemble, SOON and Silverbones, Jochem van Tol’s new project T’iju T’iju answers a long-held hypothesis: what would happen if he were to experiment with sound and music on his own? The answer lies partly in its moniker, named after the Bolivian word for grasshopper, an animal the Amsterdam-based composer and artist feels a peculiar spiritual connection to.

“T'iju T'iju became a kind of nickname for me. Somehow I’ve always come across grasshoppers in my life, which is really funny. Whether it is on my car’s steering wheel or on a motorboat or in my house on top of my bed. So I’ve come to believe the grasshopper is an animal that has mysteriously bonded with me. It’s something I like to fantasize about. T'iju T'iju became a kind of nickname for me instead of Jochem. At the same time, the pronouncement of the word is a kind of onomatopoeia for grasshoppers; the name itself sounds like something that could fit in my sound world.”

T’iju T’iju’s debut 'the dragon is still alive' – a joint release by Esc.rec. and MOLK Records – was written and recorded by Van Tol during a retreat in Spain. The two tracks, “Blue Birds” and “New Grass”, (a nod to Talk Talk’s seminal final LP Laughing Stock) were shaped by manipulating organic sounds with an assembly of synth modules and tape manipulations. Van Tol took on a tactile approach that felt novel and adventurous to him. In the past, he had completed works that were meant to be performed or vice versa, performances that were meant to put to rest on a recording.

These recordings are more candid and personal, homing in on the moments themselves, music made with no audience in mind. “This EP is composed, but also pieces in which you yourself are surprised by a sound. “New Grass” has a clarinet in it… I mean, I can't really play the clarinet, but that’s always been one of my dreams. So what if I can’t play the clarinet? I am very happy with those three clarinet notes I did play on the track. That's why I consider T’iju T’iju a present I’m giving to myself, instead of looking for someone else’s approval.”

'the dragon is still alive' is the first of a series of releases in which Van Tol chases down his own curiosity through sound, without the weight of laboring over the results. Just because T’iju T’iju is a solo endeavor, doesn’t mean the music can’t attach to and interact with other disciplines. Case in point, the next chapter for the project involves a soundtrack of a film. The music is a snapshot of sounds acting like characters driven by impulse and curiosity, much like a natural ecosystem, unraveling without second guessing itself.

“In nature, there are things that happen without raising any questions. And because this EP is the first starting point of a series, I'm curious to see how that will reflect in a few years. Suppose it becomes three or four albums, which thread will I discover?”


Since 2007, Dutch composer, musician and interdisciplinary artist Jochem van Tol (1983) has ventures into offbeat, unbeaten paths between sound and performance, applying bygone or neglected arts and crafts in creative, pioneering ways. Most notably longtime project The Paper Ensemble, which he founded alongside Ibelisse Guardia Ferragutti; a holistic study in the musical proponents in everyday objects and materials, deep listening, and acoustics. Using custom-made paper sculptures in their performances, constantly evolving dialogue where ordinary sounds become sentient characters.

As an alumnus of the The Hague Conservatory Interfaculty for Image & Sound, Van Tol’s work is as much a playground for extensive research as the act of creating. He has performed and exhibited extensively abroad, especially in Japan alongside artists such as Yoko Ono, Mamoru, John Cage, Yukio Fujimoto, Francis Alys, Germaine Kruip, Toshi Ichiyanagi and Ken'ichi Nakagawa. Additionally Van Tol has participated in various projects, residencies and bands at festivals such as Rewire, Lowlands, Tokyo’s Experimental Art&Sound Festival, Meltdown Festival and Le Guess Who?



It’s quite miraculous that the dragon is still alive contains the first recordings Jochem van Tol has done by his lonesome, given that he has a body of work that dates all the way back to 2007. If there is one common denominator in Jochem’s work, it is that it always has a giddy ‘what’s next?’-energy to it, each note bending in anticipation to the next. Usually, he has done that in a reciprocal environment with like-minded musical peers. Even in more song-oriented groups like SOON and Silverbones, you never felt the music was cast-iron in its composition, and more like a pile of leaves that could be swept away any minute by a gust of wind.

Jochem’s work with the renowned The Paper Ensemble has shown audiences that music is always simmering beneath sounds of everyday life, like a phantom appendage waiting to be revealed. T’iju T’iju, meanwhile, explores the relationship between sound and time in a more playful way. It’s significant to note that in many of his bands, Jochem performs the drums, which I reckon has played a part in him avidly debunking the act of keeping time; the myriad ways humankind has developed all kinds of metrics to capture our perception of it.

It feels playful to name the project after his spirit animal, the grasshopper, a creature who keeps time instinctively without being aware of time’s existence. Though the dragon is still alive consists of just two tracks, the music itself feels non-linear, like a fully realized environment to endlessly explore and get lost in. It’s a place where modern electronic sounds can descend into the primordial, and organic melodies rouse into blissful sentience. The possibilities are, indeed, endless.

– Jasper Willems


Review by Frans de Waard in Vital Weekly:
"The only time the name Jochem van Tol appeared in Vital Weekly was in issue 1263, with his duo SOON. He’s also a member of Silverbones, which I don’t know and The Paper Ensemble, which I saw maybe once or twice in concert, shuffling big sheets of paper around to produce sound. As T’iju T’iju, he works solo and, as far as I know, for the first time. The name comes from the Bolivian word for grasshopper, an animal the Amsterdam-based composer and artist feels a peculiar spiritual connection to. Despite the many words Esc.rec. uses to write about the record, not much is revealed about the nature of the music, the instruments aren’t mentioned. Sure, Van Tol mentions using a clarinet, despite being unable to play one, and there is an 'assembly of synth modules and tape manipulations', however wide that might be. Had I been told the music was made with software manipulations of, why not, the clarinet, then I would have believed this also. There is a slightly computerised aspect to the music, but something that I couldn’t pinpoint in more precise terms; not that it matters anyway, I think. The 12″ has two pieces, just below 20 minutes in total, and in both pieces, there is a sense of collage, of sticking various bits together, sometimes separated by silence and sometimes cross-fading from one section to the other. While I found the music (possibly wrongly) from the world of computers, there is also something more old school here, harking back to the days of 1950/1960s electronic music (so, maybe more modules that I know? I am not an expert). Of the two pieces, the first side, ‘Blue Birds’, is the one that is more broken up. In contrast, ‘New Grass’, on the other side, has continuous streams of sound, even a bit ‘dance ‘-like (a word used with extreme caution) with an extensive, more ambient middle section (with clarinet) but ending in rhythm land again. Two excellent pieces, so why not a proper LP, one with 15-20 minutes per side and gives us some more music?"


Review by Gert Verbeek (gertverbeek.com):
"Geluidskunstenaar Jochem van Tol studeerde ooit bij Dick Raaijmakers, is een van de oprichters van The Paper Ensemble en maakte de afgelopen jaren deel uit van het duo SOON en de band Silverbones. De eerste plaat van zijn soloproject T’iju T’iju werd afgelopen donderdag gepresenteerd in Amsterdam.

T’ju T’iju is een Boliviaanse onomatopee voor de sprinkhaan. Het is een van de dieren die soms uit de modulaire synthesizers en andere elektronische instrumenten van Jochem van Tol lijken te kruipen. Zijn minialbum the dragon is still alive opent met gefladder van synthetische vogels. Blauwe vogels om precies te zijn. Het vrije ritme van hun vleugels moet het opnemen tegen elektronische oprispingen, alsof de vogels door een wereldstad vliegen die te kampen heeft met een massale kortsluiting. Machines knisperen, knetteren en sputteren. De muziek vormt een abstract traject waarin niet in cirkels wordt gedraaid, maar telkens naar nieuwe routes wordt gezocht. De oorsprong van de organische geluiden, die als basis dienen voor de compositie, is niet meer te herleiden. Het tweede nummer New Grass begint met een ritmische puls waar een vierkwartsmaat in is te ontwaren. Het onrustige ritme wordt tijdelijk tot kalmte gebracht door de fluisterende tonen van een klarinet. De muziek vertelt een verhaal zonder een dwingend plot en zonder de inmenging van algoritmes uit een laptop.

Het optreden van T’iju T’iju in de Dokzaal was donderdag meer ambient dan op plaat, met lange stukken waarin op muzikale wijze industriële landschappen werden geschilderd. In de voormalige kerk was tegen de achterwand een vele meters hoge sprinkhaan geprojecteerd. De zaalvloer was in tweeën gesplitst met aan de ene kant ruimte voor het publiek en daartegenover het ruim opgestelde instrumentarium van de drie muzikanten. Links zat improvisator Giuseppe Doronzo met diverse blaasinstrumenten en rechts stond percussionist Joost Wesseling. Jochem van Tol liep als muzieklaborant van het ene naar het andere instrument, draaiend aan knoppen van een grote, antiek ogende kraakdoos en kleinere varianten daarvan, de naald plaatsend op vinyl en spaarzame noten spelend op een vleugel. Op een af en toe draaiende bandrecorder na werd alles wat we hoorden live voortgebracht. Hm, zei Van Tol soms zachtjes wanneer een improvisatie naar tevredenheid was afgerond. Het publiek hield zich zo stil dat je een stoel bij de minste beweging kon horen kraken. Af en toe bemoeiden geluiden van buiten het pand zich met het optreden. Zo werd de solo van Doronzo heel even vergezeld door het dopplereffect van een overvliegend propellervliegtuigje.

Het optreden werd gepauzeerd voor uitgebreide bedankjes en het in ontvangst nemen van bloemen. Het tempo in het slotnummer werd bepaald door een pulserende bastoon, vergelijkbaar met de herhaalde toon in Wollemi Pine van SOON. Doronzo en Wesseling kregen alle vrijheid om naar hartenlust naar een climax toe te werken. De symbiose van elektronische muziek en ambient free jazz belooft samen met de eerder uitgevoerde soundscapes veel moois voor toekomstige uitgaven van T’iju T’iju.

Het album the dragon is still alive is in gelimiteerde oplage op vinyl uitgebracht door Molk Records en Esc.rec. Het hoesontwerp is van grafisch vormgever en drukker Maaike Bol en vervaardigd in een van de werkplaatsen elders in het pand van Plantage Dok."


released March 28, 2024

Music composed and recorded by Jochem van Tol
Mixed by Sam Jones, Studio Joneski
Mastered by Uwe Teichert, Elektropolis
Horns performed by The Paper Ensemble
Sleeve design & letterpress prints by Maaike Bol
Label design & inlay artwork by Arnold Jan Quanjer & Maaike Bol
Risograph by Knust Press

Thank you: MOLK Records, Esc.rec, Saskia Quanjer, Maiami Press, GWA

C&P 2024 Amsterdam


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Esc.rec. Deventer

Esc.rec. is a small, critically acclaimed record label for adventurous music, founded in 2004 by Harco Rutgers in Deventer, NL.

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