Review of Compressions & Rarefactions [12k1083]

Ondarock (IT)

(Translated from Italian)

Kenneth Kirschner from Brooklyn, the long-standing protagonist of the 12k catalog, probably embodies the side closest to the cultured tradition, going to occupy that artistic border area between contemporary electronic research and academic tradition. All this keeping historically close to an idea of ​​rather formal ambient music, in some ways distant from the organic landscape of the last Taylor Deupree, from the bucolic isolation of Seaworthy or from the Parnassian equilibrium of Illuha. Whereas the protagonists of the 12k catalog have over the years moved the bar of atmospheric research from the definition of “ambient music”, following various other possibilities in the relationship between the two elements, Kirschner is among those who have evolved from the inside the ambient intended in the classical sense, continuing to build music designed for increasingly abstract micro-environments, tailored to fit them in a particular way.

All this up to his most recent works, in which temporal scans defined (dates) have become the subject around which to embroider. “Compressions & Rarefactions” fits in with this parable, but adds an element of substantial rupture to an ever-changing formula: the contrast, repeated by multiple perspectives. At the first level in the para-Bergsonian conception of time (in the absence of a record of one typology on the other): quantitative, inhomogeneous and instantaneous (concrete) in the observations of “Compressions” (half an hour poor each), qualitative, continuous and homogeneous (total) in the contemplations of “Rarefactions” (two abundant hours for the first and last, an hour and a half for the central one). The first printed on disk, material and finished object, the second reserved for digital download, therefore private (even by necessity) of a physical dimension.

On a second and deeper level, the opposition between the temporal scans inside the two works stands out, which also represent the situations for which the music was designed. In a sort of cyclic story, Kirschner condenses the studies on the two equinoxes (not by chance, shorter and heterogeneous periods) in the first disk, analyzing the solstices (longer and homogeneous) in the second, opening in both his sound palette to elements unpublished.
The autumn of “September 13, 2012” marries, more than dry leaves and intense colors, to a rainy grayness made of screeches and sharp drones, which goes to cloud when not to cover a night and a sinister background between drops of plan à-la-Sakamoto and vibraphone tolls. On the other hand, the spring of “April 16, 2013” is a resounding triumph of bells and xylophone, an encounter between Palestine minimalism and assorted oriental suggestions, which is one of the creative summits of Kirschner art.

The concrete over time on the one hand, the real of time on the other: “July 17, 2010” is the soundtrack of the coolest summer night possible, in the heart of a lush forest, and plays with field recordings and found sounds reminiscent of Parmégiani lessons. For a fully winter context is instead thought “January 10, 2012”, the most meditative and dense of the five passages, a silent and lush digression built on the coexistence between dark drones, touches of vibraphone, strident frequencies, samples of dark arcs and a massive dose of silence.

The solemn and epic 127 minutes of “October 13, 2012” finally constitute the exception to the rule: in a decidedly milder October of the initial September, the evasion from the concept and the environment itself is staged, but also a cyclic closing of the route. All in a sort of multi-faceted symphony, from the chilling start to the central torment, to the amazing finale built on the stratifications of the viola by Tawnya Popoff.

In what is probably his most complete and complex work, Kirschner completes his most recent concept of ambient music, where the relationship between the two elements is played in the spatial and temporal components of the first. All this by further reworking the aesthetic and ontological boundaries between contemporary research and (post-) classicism, in a jewel where the two really seem to achieve a common matrix.

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