JASON KAHN – Dotolim

Balloon & Needle

This record is a product of Jason Kahn’s Seoul trip in 2009, made possible by Ryu Hankil’s organization of a number of concerts involving the American. The will of collaborating with “the core group” of Korean improvisers – which he had firstly met three years prior – turned into this recording at Dotolim, a minuscule site also used by hard disk drive manipulator Jin Sangtae as business office. A graphic score was handed to the five performers accompanying the designer’s analogue synth and shortwaves; besides Jin and Ryu (speaker and piezo vibration) – the sextet featured label manager Choi Joonyong (opened CD players), Park Seungjun (amp with spring reverb) and Hong Chulki (turntables).

The composer reports that there was the bare minimum space in the room to move and operate the machines. One imagines heat and sweat, everybody hunched over a piece of equipment, the unremitting shuddering of an uncontrollable sonic organism led by six men towards uncharted territories. The music benefits from the alliance of shortwave, drilling percussiveness and organic distortion, which represent its predominant components. The propulsion comes from destroyed automatisms originating an incessant clatter pervaded by a sort of acrid bubbling; establishing who does what becomes a matter of imagination, and is actually pointless. Density, rawness and intelligibility proceed at the same pace: we can choose a path to follow while remaining able to monitor the different directions to which various intuitions spread. Even stasis, in the rare moments of presence, sounds crusty and tense until it gets mangled by evil droning forces, as it happens from the 45th minute on in a memorable, literally dangerous section.

A network of inquisitive minds giving birth to a creature whose deceivingly mechanical coldness hides a passionate effort to interpret Kahn’s intentions at best. Tune in with the head of a participant and let these energizing defluxions chart your mind. You won’t be disappointed.

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