JASON KAHN – Sin Asunto

Creative Sources

Inspired by Kahn’s love for Albert Ayler’s work with strings, Sin Asunto (“No Subject”) is a composition scored for bass, violin and cello – respectively handled by Christian Weber, Vincent Millioud and Bo Wiget – in combination with the composer’s amplified percussion. The graphic score, a fascinating part of which is observable in the CD’s inside leaflet, tries to make the joint resonance of the latter source and the string trio produce a “blur” of the distinction between electronic and acoustic nuances. It takes a special breed of artist – ears attuned not only to a specific music, but to The Vibration – to render such a piece in the correct manner. Needless to say, the result of this set reflects all of the above.

A rare happening when a similar performance is attempted is the ability to observe the player’s individual personalities remaining in evidence despite the respect of the overall conception. In this circumstance we can tell designs and gestures apart, study the interconnection of two or more pitches, enjoy the oscillations and the measured parabolas depicted by the arcos or receive the whole as a sturdy bulk of actions, the inherent compositeness of its tissue notwithstanding. The participants, while scrupulously following instructions, also introduce elements of delicate percussiveness and gentle abrasiveness, halfway through EAI’s quieter fringes and a “quoted-by-just-everybody” luminary whose first name is Helmut. The silence filtering from these tiny cracks in the electroacoustic fabric is an important factor to consider, breaking in a way the psychological flux caused by the previous permutations of frequencies. However, the sensation remains one of activity and movement, not contemplation. The musicians are constantly raising the aerials to the reciprocal suggestions; the attentive care for this aspect of the rendition is clearly discernible throughout the album, especially in the central section.

When the genuine pitches resurrect their authority, conductive of a sense of mental wavering given by the uncertain definition in terms of “tonality” – the real secret behind the best works in this field – this reviewer felt like having been ready for this evolution of the fundamental matter since the beginning. Noise and drones mix, this time without giving the chance of choosing a side. The uneasiness is palpable, the players trying to contrast damaging intrusions with the force of reiterative signals. The intensity becomes almost overwhelming around the 36th minute, a fierce battle throwing the listener within a tense suspension until the booming qualities of Weber’s contrabass and a deep pulse – presumably generated by Kahn – affirm a predominance upon the rest in a contagious crescendo. As the noisy components cease to be, a postlude of sorts – riveting growl and incisive short figurations gradually turning into dissonant luminosity with a measure of angst – leads towards the conclusion of one of Kahn’s finest ever efforts, which would be quite interesting to hear expanded for a large ensemble.

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