Review of Twenty Ten [12k1066]

Sound Projector (.COM)

A lengthy triple-CD box set of microtonal minimalism is <i>Twenty Ten</i> (12K1066) by the New York composer Kenneth Kirschner, offering over three hours of music across four very long compositions. The music gradually becomes fainter, quieter and more washed-out as you progress across the set; while we may start out with 23 minutes of detailed and enjoyable Gamelan-like tinkling-note music, by the middle of disc two we are set adrift in a mysterious sea of silence which is occasionally punctuated by long tones from strings and horns, and not sure where the horizon may be nor when we shall return to dry land. We’re back on relatively safer ground with the third disc, which across 50 minutes provides a delicate mix of filtered piano notes, scraped and plucked strings surrounded by ambivalent computerised ambient washes, in a thoroughly abstract and non-narrative composition where every element is judiciously positioned with the loving care of a minimal art-gallery sculptor who only works with white bedsheets, muted fluorescent lamps, and thin copper rods. Piano, strings, horns, and celeste are among the instrumentation, and Kirschner carefully assembles and edits his elements inside the computer to create his precisely-timed effects. The music moves very slowly, it does rely on long duration, and sometimes makes use of pre-ordained rules as part of the composition; but his love of detail, sumptuous (in their own miniaturist way) sounds, and ear for microtonal events marks out Kirschner as a composer who is quite some way from the traditions of “old-School” New York minimalism. A firm believer in Creative Commons, he makes all his music freely available as mp3 downloads from his website.

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