Dusted Reviews

Jason Kahn and Günter Müller - Blinks

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Jason Kahn and Günter Müller

Album: Blinks

Label: For4Ears

Review date: Feb. 9, 2005

Günter Müller is one of the most important figures – past and present – in electroacoustic improvisation. From his relatively early (mid-1980s) appearances in the group Nachtluft to his stewardship of the fine For4Ears label, he has played with just about everyone in this scene. One of his longstanding associations is with Swiss noisemakers Voice Crack, whose use of “cracked everyday electronics” was often insistently pulse-based. It’s that musical pairing that seems to me the likeliest precedent from this recording of duets with Jason Kahn, nominally a percussionist just like Müller, and one tends to work in more rhythmic spaces than those in which Müller frequently finds himself.

Kahn and Müller both began as drummers. But this is about as far from Roach and Rich – or, for that matter, Drake and Zerang – as you can get. These nine improvisations (each a “blink”) incorporates selected acoustic drums or percussive devices, but modifies and abstracts them using laptop, iPod and other electronics in order to explore fully the resonating properties of drums, their unique sonorities, as well as the possibilities inherent in electronics improvisation. It is also a document of a lovely, satisfying duo music.

Each of the nine “blinks” manages to sound dreamy even while avoiding the ephemeral qualities their names might indicate. These are substantial and at times even earthy pieces that dig deep into their respective territories. Frequently, the imagery that comes to mind when listening is organic, evocative of landscapes and thick atmospheric conditions. Long, suspended tones are subtly manipulated, with different aspects of their texture changing like the play of sunlight on water. The brief duration and intense focus of each piece makes them seem like slow camera pans around a particular area. Occasionally the tracks build off of one another – as the second does from the first, for example – but more often they stand alone. On many tracks the reverberation and quasi-harmonics – setting rich bell-like tones adrift amid burbling feedback and crackles, or buffeting it with pops and hisses – is a holdover from their percussionist sensibilities. It’s hard not to make this connection listening to the sumptuous drone (almost a chorus of bowed cymbals) and bubbling water sounds on “Fourth Blink” or the insistent cooing of “Fifth Blink.” And as mentioned previously, each player still uses percussion devices as part of his rig (only their sounds are highly processed or fitted with triggering devices that link up to the small forest of electronic equipment).

Throughout this record, the hum of electronics sounds natural here, and each glance onto this duo’s landscape seems to blend easily into the listening environment. This kind of redefining and reassessing instrumentalism is by now commonplace for this broad area of improvisation. But while this recording won’t blow your wig off with anything revolutionary, it is a pleasant and thoughtful entry from two superb improvisers.

By Jason Bivins

Read More

View all articles by Jason Bivins

Find out more about For4Ears

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.