Kendra Steiner

Alfred 23 Harth: reeds, kaoss pad, dojirak, samples, voice; Carl Stone: computer, Max/MSP, voice, samples; Kazuhisa Uchihashi: electric guitar, daxophone; Samm Bennett: diddley bow, mouth bow, voice, gadgets

The highest value of this live set from 2010 in Tokyo derives from the feel of collective connection that it transmits. Purposeful sonic motility born from different experiences and backgrounds, materially explicated by each artist’s insightful levelheadedness. A 160-copy limited edition is the tangible evidence of a special night lighted up by a supergroup of sorts.

“Unboxing” starts with a rather imperturbable mood spotted by undecomposable shapes – petite noises, clean-cut guitar and sax notes, well-distributed percussive touches – leading the listener step by step towards a perception-deceiving sphere where the aggregation of antithetical dynamics and tensions flourishes into a beautifully morphing varicolored lattice, a general awareness of inherent fluidity defining the whole track even when sourer samples attempt to prevail in the mix. We could call this a somewhat melodic expansion of collateral fluxes of consciousness.

“Eschew Obfuscation, Espouse Elucidation” comprises several degrees of incandescent noise-making; the utilization of more complex deformations of the original sources encompasses clearly visible bodily aspects. There is less room for relief in this potential chaos, but what ultimately wins – here like everywhere else – is a sense of organization holding all the components nicely pasted together, including the seemingly illogical ones. In that regard, the positioning of uncrystallized vocalizations, burbling entities, groaning impressions and scratchy rhythms in parallel with the episodic “aligned” phrase or semi-twisted arpeggio works wonders in generating psychedelic scents of the finest brand.

“It’s Also The Things We Choose Not To Put In” is initiated by an implausible “gamelan-in-a-music-box-meets-Jon Hassell” mishmash, from the insides of which additional shots of perspicuous lunacy come forth to uproot the audience. The “acoustic soul” seems to dominate at one point, yet there is enough content of electronic instability; a timbral malleability characterized by aesthetic permeableness (now and then with pseudo-minimalist condiments) is the core of the matter in this circumstance. Actually, the main trait of this quartet corresponds to their ability of rendering unlikely ideas “interiorly toothsome”, stimulating our private focus and adapting capabilities without the need of overwhelming (although a section starting around the eight minute, defined by what sounds as a cross of misshapen ringing alarms and oriental martial art ceremonials would surely be sufficient for many people to get brain-sick).

“Alien” – a word this writer is growingly becoming fond of these days, for various reasons – coincides with the occult (in a way) side of the foursome’s action. Deprived of any sign of over-indulgence, this piece’s textural essence transports a willing participant inside the realm of genuine sensual disengagement, not necessarily warranting a quietening welcome to heavenly composure. On the contrary, some of the frequencies can enhance a given state of mind – say, dejection or worrisomeness – up to points of displacement that hyper-sensitive individuals may find hard to be at, if caught in a “down” moment. As always with musicians at this level, being pushed right in front of what the self understands as unendurable is the method for receiving otherwise unachievable explanations.

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  1. Pingback: THE EXPATS—-Harth/Stone/Bennett/Uchihashi (KSE #233) reviewed at Touching Extremes | Kendra Steiner Editions

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