Thursday, November 05, 2009

Jason Kahn/Ryu Hankil - Circle (Celadon)

It's a pleasure to welcome the first release from long-time discussion group participant (and all-around curmudgeon) Bill Ashline's Celadon label, and even more of one to report that it's damn good. An interesting pairing in that both musicians often employ overt rhythmic elements in their work, not the most common feature at this end of the playing field, but those rhythms are quite different. Kahn I think of as more "steady state', with vibrating surfaces that maintain a fairly regular texture (over any small span of time, though shifting on larger scales), kind of a color field approach to sound. Hankil, who makes wide use of clockworks, strikes me as somehow more ragged, more erose with his ticks and alarms. So, on the face of it, it portends a possibly delicious melding of attacks and, yes, we get a good dose of that over the course of the 93 or so minutes of this 2-disc set. But, more, there's a lot of delicacy, of barely occupied space and high, soft textures. Too, the rhythmic element is never consistent--it manifests then sputters out, catches on barely then sublimates into sparks or subsonics. When, as occurs about 15 minutes into the second disc, Kahn re-emerges with fingers on tempered metal and Hankil clatters about on grittier, more commercial material (at least, it sounds this way to me), the effect is surprising and wonderful. It's a long enough set that it's tough to get a fix on the whole structure and, perhaps, it overstays its welcome a tad but by and large it's a rigorous, intricate and absorbing performance.


Moniek Darge - Soundies (Kye)

When I received this disc, the name violinist/composer/vocalist Moniek Darge didn't ring a bell. But a little research revealed that I had indeed heard of her in conjunction with her partner Godfried-Willem Raes, founder of Belgium's Logos Foundation, whom I'd run across during AMM investigations. He and Darge apparently engaged in many a public performance, often in the nude, occasionally spurring arrest, etc. Still, I had no idea what to expect musically. Well, it's a varied lot, some of it quite good. Seven pieces, arranged chronologically from 1980 - 2001. "Sand", the earliest work is a fine extended steady-state work with marvelously irregular percussion delicately tumbling over a slightly wavering, organ-like tape. Really excellent study in agitated calm, my favorite piece on the recording. Intervening tracks are hit and miss, with some use of vocalizations and animal sounds a bit whimsical for my taste and the free improv aspects somewhat formless, though the chime-like tones and ambient noise in "Caete" are very lovely. Happily, the disc closes with another very strong piece, 2001's "Turning Wheel", a rich live soundscape (in situ, I think, not tape, though I'm not certain) with male and female voices (English and Japanese) and violin, somber and churning. Well worth a listen.

Available through erstdist (as is the Celadon disc) or from Graham Lambkin @

1 comment:

William said...

Thanks for your review, Brian. I appreciate your thoughts on the recording.

Best wishes.