CHRISTIAN WOLFARTH & JASON KAHN – Percussion / Voice

Confront

Just over half an hour of music. But if one measures a release by the intensity that it conveys – which, in this circumstance, can literally be cut with a knife – Percussion / Voice is the equivalent of a protracted excruciating effort. And – as they say in the trade – it’s not something for the faint-hearted, or for less than centered listeners.

Those who have been exhausted by this scribe’s awkward rants and grunts since the beginnings know that both artists enjoy a high degree of esteem on these shores. Either in solitary undertakings or in collaborative outings, Wolfarth and Kahn have demonstrated a willingness to overcome the instrumental limits time and again. This recording is emblematic in that regard, comprising forms of expression that burn inside for real.

In particular – and this should not come as a surprise – Kahn’s use of the voice’s rawest, “from-the-gut” constituents strikes a nerve. Having momentarily left behind his investigations of percussion and electronics, he opts for an extremely physical phonemic method that still demands the performer’s separation from the fleshly container. A combination of tangible abstraction, shamanic connection with antithetic dimensions, and primeval aliveness; at times we’re reminded of a newborn child crying his heart out, perhaps aware of what is going to hurt him later on in life.

On the other side, Wolfarth represents an ideal complement to Kahn’s instinctive withdrawal from rationality. The skilled dissemination of percussive hues and unplanned patterns across the environment delineated by individual receptiveness is a primary reason of our appreciation of this man’s work. Incisive signals deriving from the handling of skins and the bowed cymbals – as distant from a bodily emission as they can be – shape up a magnificent counterpoint, escorting the voice one moment, enhancing its harmonics with their own the next. When the respective focuses reach a “loss of consciousness” joint apex, the result is chilling in its brutal directness.

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