Subsequent to an invitation by Mark Trayle – one of the four musicians active in this recording, specifically on laptop-driven guitar – Jason Kahn composed Timelines Los Angeles as a graphic score destined to the 2008 edition of the Cal Arts Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology Festival. Having both the possibility of choosing the participants to the performance and the intention of designing the parts exactly for those executors and their respective personalities, the composer decided to employ Olivia Block on prepared piano and Ulrich Krieger on saxophone and electronics, whereas he is featured on percussion and analog synthesizer. Still, if a record exists that doesn’t ask for excessive deliberation about the timbral individualities this must be it, although we do identify and separate the sources (well, sort of) as the whole flows.
The best method to describe this full hour is partitioning it in sections corresponding to a general dynamic appearance. The beginning is dominated by Block, which generates a reiterated scraping first, a rumbling substratum of thick string resonance later, upon which a rarefaction of synthetic emissions and diminutive reed noises are heard. Gradually, the interferences become a series of more consistent blotches – it is actually complicated to differentiate what comes from Trayle and what from Kahn in certain instances – then, all of a sudden, an extensively violent surge (especially enhanced by Krieger’s next-to-collapse drones on the sax) keeps us on the seat of our pants for long minutes. Imagine an extract from a Phill Niblock piece, deprived of the precious components: just harshness and unfriendly frequencies, stimulating nevertheless. Everything stops suddenly, leaving the listener alone with some variety of infected steam hissing around, finely complemented by repetitive hits on a cymbal, in classic Kahn fashion, until conclusion.
It takes time to agree to this music. It’s definitely uneasy on the ears – despite the whispered attributes defining its large part – and the structure is so evidently subdivided that a lightweight mind might find hard to follow the fluctuation of events in its entirety. Once the initial coat of unfriendliness is melted, though, there’s no stopping in enjoying it completely; that’s why I’d classify this CD as “wisely unwelcoming”. Then, as usual, it depends on what you expect from the act of listening. If a background is needed, look somewhere else. If attentiveness and breakdown are your forte, a lot of meat is here to chomp on.