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CD Feature/ Kassel Jaeger: "ee[nd]"

img  Tobias

Despite all of his obvious and undeniable capacities as a composer, Kassel Jaeger has a major problem: He is an honest man. While there are several possible approaches to explaining the underground success of Drone music, one of them undoubtledly lies in its potential of creating a zone of intense comfort and warmth, of building a safe nest for souls hurt by the relentless noise terror of the outside world. It is a place offering instant satisfaction for listeners and a near-risk-free path towards recognition and yet, Jaeger defiantly refuses to go there.

In a sense, his latest album can therefore be regarded as one of the most expressive and extrovert examples of a musical direction one could bookmark as “new realism”: Pure and mildly processed field recordings delineate a visual territory organically spelled out by our immediate environment, subtle crackles and refined raspings bring the cornucopian diversity of a secretive microtonal society to the fore, while un- und surreal sheets of sound point towards an underlying metaphysical mystery or – if you’re lucky– truth. The rewards of this approach are clear for anyone to see: Imagination and tangibility, concretion and abstraction come together to form an astoundingly threedimensional sonic picture of the world, both rich in acoustic phenomena and pleasantly unpredictable in its development.

“ee[nd]” therefore consciously balances between the artful deception of musique concrete and the deceptive objectivity of urban and pastoral field recordings. Throughout, Jaeger takes on the duties of creative demiurge, building mysterious sceneries by juggling with sounds and juxtaposing for- and background textures, weightless atmospherics and surprising shock-effects. Almost effortlessly and with a confusing outward casualness, he fuses the hissing void of enigmatic open spaces with wilfull vinyl cuts, out-of-tune train-whistle-trios and bubbling water sequences on bizarre daydream “supra”, allowing seemingly accidental microphone contacts to penetrate the hushed whisperworld of humming whitescape “circa”.

Jaeger also displays a remarkable penchant for dramaturgy. His work, while resting zen-like in the moment, never marks time. “ee[nd]” has been conceived as a wave, reaching its trough in the floating high-tone passages of the middle section and culminating in the thickening textures and plots of the last 25-minutes taken up by extended closing cuts “cis” and “infra”. Here, silent knots are disentangled and loose ends tightly stringed together to form forceful, intensely glowing cirrostrati. “infra”, especially, is the musical equivalent to a cloudburst flight, almost exploding with claustrophobic electric energy and exposing its audience to a beligerent multitude of associations and impressions.

Despite these theatrical ambitions, the emotional immediacy of the music is occasionally stifled by its violent negation of escapism – unless you consider some of the more depressive sections of the album as a sort of experimental Dark Ambient, that is. The unannounced intrusion of these dense moods by completely mundane noises (such as slamming doors, howling wind or aggressive grinding machines) prevents the music from entering that peaceful comfort zone so many other Drone releases tend towards. As a result, the mind stays wide awake, observing the body’s gradual immersion into the music with sharp eyes and critical ears.

In contrast to more wayward tendencies within the realms of contemporary composition, “ee[nd]” is however not trying to purposefully work against its public. Rather, these pieces make us aware of the highly impure consistency of our acoustic environment: What we hear is always the product of the sounds themselves, our personal interpretations of them and of the myriads of conflicting thoughts, memories and streams of nonsense running through our heads all of the time. If Kassel Jaeger refuses to ignore the opaque black-box nature of this process, he may alienate all those looking for a safe nest for souls hurt by the relentless noise terror of the outside world. His honesty, however, cleans the lenses of our mind like a refreshing tissue, opening the doors of perception wide for new and very real sensations.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Kassel Jaeger
Homepage: Mystery Sea Records

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