Review of Filaments & Voids [12k1050]

Time Off (AU)

The piano is an endless source of creative inspiration. It’s as though there are generation after generation of musicians, taught as children over countless summer holidays and after school sessions, rejecting the instrument in their teens and then returning some point later only to conceive the full possibility of the array of hammers and strings.

Interestingly the ‘possibility’ of the piano – beyond its percussive and melodic potentials (arguably the most common uses of the instrument) are less documented than perhaps they should be in this day and age. One artists who tests for the very edge of the piano’s musical capability is American artist Kenneth Kirschner. Over the past decade, Kirschner has been one of American’s most interesting extended piano players – seeking out ways of transforming the instrument into something more than a melody machine.

On Filaments & Voids this is most certainly achieved. The opening work on this double CD set “October 19, 2006” is a lilting open ended performance of the emergence of piano tones from within a great silence. Indeed much of this disc is about the ideas of absence and presence – how it is that the piano is brought into and out of ‘hearing’. As a contrast to this though are pieces like “June 10 2008” – a washing microtonal exploration where the piano is transformed into something of a pulsing electronic harmonium or crystalline organ.

Fittingly, the artwork’s image shot by 12k label boss Taylor Deupree speaks to this same idea of silence, space and detail. The image is a large open room, partly in disarray – its duotone surfaces creating a sense of delicate interplay between presence and absence – something that resonates strongly with Kirschner’s compositions. – HHH1/2 (Lawrence English)

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