Review of Filaments & Voids [12k1050]

Sonomu (.NET)

A bulked-up project with a meek approach. Some one hundred and fifty minutes stretched over two discs, where Kenneth Kirschner examines the properties of vibrating air.

Aside from the variety of solo work available by this self-professed composer of “indeterminate” music, he also collaborated on one of the four full-length CDs which comprised Vidna Obmana´s farewell to ambient music, An Opera for Four Fusion Works (Hypnos).

Filaments & Voids would show how the macrocosmos is mirrored in the microcosmos; the filaments of light in the night sky are equivalent to the chords he strikes on his piano, the silences the darkness in between them. Sounds are made and then left to fade away and bleed into the silence. This monomaniacal pattern draws attention to the unique characteristics of both sound and silence – no two silences are alike.
All four tracks are named after specific calander dates, though given their disparity in time I wonder if they really are the days they were actually recorded or if they have some other, more personal meaning for Kirschner.

“October 19, 2006” exhales sounds from somewhere into the vast everywhereness of emptiness. Sometimes deep and throaty, sometimes thin and trebly, these multiform plumes flare up and then dissipate, followed by long, patient silences. “September 11, 1996” emits more frequently, almost like stabs at a horror movie matinee´s schlocky organ. The comparatively cacophonous “June 10, 2008” is the most anodyne and least successful, though meticulously built up and then taken apart again. It seems out of place because its overlapping synths and strings leave no place for silence.

“March 16, 2006” takes up the full length of the second disc and is a memorial to Kirschner´s former employer, a neuroscientist and classical music lover. The piece recalls an older style, perhaps a late-eighteenth century composer thinking out his composition alone in an empty room. However, in this instance, the unusual resonances discerned after each of these chords is caused by Kirschner re-recording the material using an iPod as a microphone. Note how very different these silences are from the “analogue” ones on the first disc, almost like a different species of acoustics.

However experimentally thought-provoking, in the final analysis what is most memorable is the fact that this piece is so achingly beautiful. – Stephen Fruitman

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