Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I had a chance to look over Jason Kahn's graphic score for his 2-hour "Timelines" after the show last evening. Five "staves" with exact time demarcations filled with five or six sets of patterns--dashes, circles; basically images not so different from the excellent covers he creates for his Cut label. The variation was mostly in vertical density. ie, a series of 1/8" dashes might begin with one or two atop each other and, over the course of several inches, swell to a depth of 20 or so, then drift back down or abruptly stop. (I could be oversimplifying the graphic nature but we're in the ballpark). In any case, density or lack of same seemed to be the larger concern, the musicians segueing in and out of the mix (Kahn actually at a computer mixing board, presumably adjusting the output of the three electronicists--Korber, Muller and Moslang--though I couldn't pick up any clear changes resulting from his actions), ranging from sparseness to a thick stew.
I wasn't too keen on the piece in its entirety, though I have to say the two hours went by more quickly than I would have thought. There was a kind of constraint in play that bothered me a bit. I had the impression that a given musician's interpretation of the score was kept in a fairly narrow area. Additionally, there wasn't (to me) much sense of the piece as a whole, more just moving from section to section. Admittedly, I've been "spoiled" from my discussions with Keith about "Treatise". One of his main concerns with renditions of that score is that, even if a group of musicians is performing ovly a handful of pages, they should understand those pages' relationship to the entire score. A subtle thing, of course, but something I didn't pick up here.
To be sure, there were passages that worked perfectly well on their own, though it was most often in situations where the volume level rose which, unfairly in a way, creates physical patterns and sensations that are automatically fascinating by their very nature. (This is something that annoys me a bit--that loudness in this end of music is almost always "interesting"; sort of like large abstract paintings acquiring levels of "interest" simply by virtue of being large and enabling one to see things at a different level)
I'd positioned my self near the opposite side of the circular room from the ensemble, within close range of an open window. It was a breezy evening and the sound of the wind through the cluster of trees along the Gowanus Canal as well as the occasional passing car over the bridge, provided fine counterpoint during the work's quieter moments.
I also should cite Tim once again, whose gong playing throughout was unfailingly sensitive.
Bade Ghulam Ali Khan - Gunkali/Malkauns (thanks, Nirav!)
Ellen Fullman/Sean Meehan - s/t (Cut)
Signal Quintet - Yamaguchi (Cut)