After having noted the event’s location and date, the first impression assailing the mind as Jason Kahn begins to steer his gently sloping ululations towards a point of raspy disgregation is that of a man employing innermost resources to defeat extreme coldness. At the same time, the vocalizations heard in the opening movement remind us of babies getting acquainted with their own bodily resonance by obeying to “involuntarily Tuvan” implicit rules. For sure you can’t question the purity of an infant’s intent, or lack thereof; likewise, Kahn’s research around the fruits of unadulterated intuition cannot be subjected to the usual kind of analytical criticism.
The few conspicuous elements we can clutch at are the different “technical” approaches inside a silence wrapped by a padded cocoon of remote urban echoes. Each side of this double LP comprises a confrontation with quietness along paths dictated by the voice itself and not by rational thinking, which would have negated the set’s cathartic undercurrents. Kahn considered these aspects very carefully before the start; consequently, his emission sounds entirely delivered by comparative stickers and stylistic hypotheses. He uses stark-naked tones in the second part, saliva-drenched hisses and noises in the third; puts the larynx under stress in the fourth – at times, no irony here, suggesting a grown-up kid throwing a tantrum – with results that would have been lauded by the late Demetrio Stratos. However, this reviewer is not in the position of telling anyone what is “best” for them to hear. Rather, we experienced a symbiosis of sorts with the performer’s essence, still remaining unable to extrapolate the reasons behind a long-distance bond that kept our brain switch stuck in “concentration mode” during the listening act.
When facing an audience, a solitary artist perceives a sense of danger. A gathering of people can absorb energy like nothing else, not to mention that they physically hinder fundamental reverberations. The complete isolation in a forsaken environment enhanced by natural reflectiveness created a parallelism between the necessity of a tough challenge and a deep probing of the self. Kahn appears to have been increasingly strengthened by the ricocheting propagations finding their way back home, within the originator. If you manage to identify with this particular situation, your understanding and appreciation of Songline – a record that touches on essential issues of our prototypal being – will be hugely improved.