Review of Post_Piano 2 [12k1032]

Tokafi (.COM)

An inbuilt memory of its prior life: Deconstructing the piano without loosing its characteristics.

You can expect Kenneth Kirschner to be the last to postulate the “end of the piano”. After all, the New York-based composer is one of the few remaining in his trade to not only use it as a source of still sizeable sound sculpting possibilities, but for its direct value as an instrument. The title of this album has nothing to do with the tendency of the mainstream media to subsumise everything with a faint notion of being intelectually viable under the “Post-x” tag either. For it is not a new style Kirschner and his musical partner Taylor Deupree are after here, but the pursuit of a simple aim: Deconstructing the piano without loosing its referential characteristics.

As on its predecessor, Post_Piano 2 takes one of Ken’s works and utilises it as a well from which to scoop inspiration, ideas, sounds and structures. As with many of his collaborational efforts, Kirschner is carried by the conviction that regardless of how many phases of reprocession his contribution undergoes or how little resemblance the result still bears with his original track, there will always be a faint shimmer, an inbuilt memory of its prior life imbedded in it, like a watermark in an MP3 file. As a listener, the joy of these projects consists in whitnessing the transcendence of these watermarks, as they pass from Kirschner’s hands into those of Taylor Deupree, founder of 12k and a neighbour of sorts. “11.11.2003”, the basis for the three pieces by Deupree, certainly offers a multitude of possibilities within its almost twenty minutes. Like a broken bridge from an Indiana Jones’ movie, it strings together fragments, hissing tape recorder sessions, sketches, studio improvisations, minuscule melodies and incomplete chord sequences on a ragged thread with short and long stretches of complete silence seperating the individual segments. Out of this ocean, almost everything could have evolved, but Deupree has decided to leave the monumental and the monolithic to others and go for a trio of perfectly realised ideas in the form of lean arrangements and concise linearity. “08.09.2004” opens with thick washes of hollow drones and glistening tonal particles, occasionally allowing in singular piano splinters. Growing and decreasing in density and plodding from heavy bass frequencies into light, ethereal yet still opaque sound clouds, the piece remains in one mood, without loosing tension. On a very different note, “01.09.2005” goes from abrasive noise to a subliminally threatening jungle of microscopic mumblings. “09.15.2004”, meanwhile, is the strangely consoling finale, opening with a mixture of seemingly concrete elements and plenty of abstraction before slowly disintegrating.

No matter where the music steps, the piano is always there, either in an obvious manner, when slices from Kirschner’s playing rear their head or in a more subtle way, first shedding its typical waveform and then turning gaseous. The slightly surreal and otherworldy feel of the source material has certainly survived in Deupree’s reworkings, while his own, emotive, explorative and always subcutaneously emotional touch shines through as well. If this is the place pianos go when they die, then the heaven of Post_Piano is no space for mourning.

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