Review of Filaments & Voids [12k1050]

Subsido (BLOG)

Although he’s since recorded for other great labels like Sirr and Room40, 12k was the imprint that first established Kenneth Kirschner as an electroacoustic composer, collecting a trio of works under the title “September 19, 1998” et al. on a 2003 release. The album showcased three markedly different approaches to composition, taking in microsonic texture, deep digital drones, and most distinctively, a rethink on the established idiom of the prepared piano. Kirschner’s handling of solo piano recordings has proven to be the most enduring facet of his work, something which has been the starting point for the post_piano albums he’s concocted in collusion with 12k boss Taylor Deupree. On Filaments & Voids – an immensely subtle and involving collection of pieces – Kirschner’s musical starting point is difficult to pin down. While electronically treated piano phrases are at the foundations of “March 16, 2006” (a seventy-two minute composition spanning the entire second disc) the first three works here are far more elusive. As suggested by the title, considerable passages of this music seem to alternate between huge swells of incandescent tonality and ostensible absences: “October 19, 2006” condenses this binary behaviour very neatly, perhaps sounding like a morse code machine slowed down to a thousandth of its normal performance. Sonically, the piece is rich and loaded with beautiful timbres – a few finely crafted tones momentarily penetrating the silence. “September 11th, 1996” requires less of your patience, although it does seem to follow a similar structure, moving in the same fade in/out fashion. By the time “June 10th, 2008” is arrived at, the passages of “void” have been eradicated and we’re left with string-like drone tones, taking up a sound approximating a digital orchestra – much in the same vein as the material on Stephan Mathieu’s superb Radioland album. Over to the single-track second disc and Kirschner’s talent really begins to shine through. He has a unique way of recording the piano that transforms its sonorities into something very alien, at once ancient soundign and oddly futuristic. The only reference points that even remotely compare to Kirschner’s strange and eroded tones would be William Basinski’s Melancholia or Variations: A Movement In Chrome Primitive. This music is rather more hi-fi and vibrant however, locking decrepit old instruments into the moment via spectral filtering and transformative sound processing – the production is as exquisitely warm as it is abstracted and strangulated. A tremendous collection of detailed, microsonic compositions.

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