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CD Feature/ Jason Kahn: "Fields"

img  Tobias

The physical aspect of his art has always been important to Jason Kahn, but this time that aim extends beyond the notes. Paperclip-like structures in piercing colours confuse and confound the eye, while the seductive, sweet and yet disturbing smell of the cover’s still fresh paint lingers in the air even weeks after unpacking the disc. And already the record’s title suggests that we’re in for a session which invites the listener to wander through and “look” at the music, instead of remaining immobile and passive. “Fields” is, without a single doubt, a confronting work.

It is, above all, again remarkably different from its immediate predecessor, “Breathings”, an atmospheric collaboration with Argentinian pianist Gabriel Paiuk, which for a second diverged from Kahn’s motto of “no melody, no harmony, no bullshit” (which he shares with Phil Niblock) – even though it was really the sound qualities inherent to specific chords and harmonic relations which were at heart of things. The result was intimate, provocative and self-contained and it is the latter aspect which binds all of Kahn’s efforts together. With “Fields”, he again distinguishes himself as one of the leading album-sculptors of the experimental music scene, as one of those who still consider the album as a small miracle encapsulating various variations of the same idea. While “Sihl” turned towards density, frequency and form and “Breathings” explored the connection between structure and sound, the new pieces are about noise, development and layering. “Noise”, because Kahn is using a noticeable ammount of distortion as well as the raw immediacy of field recordings gathered over several years and in countries such as Croatia, Egypt, Japan, Lebanon and Switzerland to lend an extremely effective forceful impact to his music (even though it hardly ever really attacks the listener and remains on a subtle level throughout). “Development”, because the seven tracks on “Fields” allow the listener to inspect their aural nature in every detail, but still clearly evolve, turning more granular or soft, moving into different parts of the spectrum or morphing into something different alltogether by suddenly shedding some of their defining elements. The album as such is also changing its tone over time, as the more immediate moments of the beginning flow into the closing tryptich of three slightly longer and less tangible pieces. In all cases, it is the careful layering which draws one in, the way the textures melt into one coherent surface, yet remain clearly devided underneath – glistening ultrahigh tones, chimingly fine chains of hihat clicks, tiny bells being struck, white noise or the wind blowing through a whitely glowing wasteland.

Rhythm plays a more direct role than on “Sihl”, even though it is more of a soft breath than a forceful storm and it doesn’t only come in the delicate, airy but directly recognisable percussion patterns, but as an integral element of all sounds involved. This creates a certain pull and push sensation, which takes “Fields” one step further. Listened to at a higher volume, this album creates the very physical power Kahn has always sought for in his studio recordings.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Jason Kahn
Homepage: cut records

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