Computermusiker

Listening - Saturday, Jan 18th 2020


The Beast

I’m really behind on my Kenneth Kirschner listening, I may never catch up… as much as the no-metadata approach to dumping new works quietly and formlessly is aesthetically appealing, in practice it means I’m probably only going to dip in randomly. In recent years his music seems mainly written for traditional instrumentation. Maybe at least include a list of forces to jog memory when perusing decades of music without any context except the completion date? It would help to find some of the older stuff I remember being much more timbrally various and percussive… Anyway, archival practices aside, I’ve heard the Feldman-esque vibe in previous material but April 17, 2019 is very much leaning into that world. It would sit happily among the recent releases on Another Timbre. I like Another Timbre very much, but like any label that has a fairly hyper-focused eye on a very specific sound, the material can really blend together into a forgettable mush sometimes. Which of these CDs of chamber music performed by Apartment House was I just listening to? I don’t like how easy one solo piano and violin piece with a pleasant harmony and plenty of space between events blends with the other, but they eventually become interchangeable with enough entries.

So the Kirschner will get filed (mentally) along with a stack of lovely CDs that I’ll play at random when I’m feeling like hearing that late 2010s Another Timbre sound again.

I guess I’m catching up today with a few releases I picked up last year for this reason or that by artists that are new or mostly unfamiliar to me. I know I’ve seen Joda Clément’s name in the Glistening Examples catalog but I don’t remember what drew me to pick up this 2015 album on Notice. It’s very understated and nice – a good wipe of the slate after the relative disappointment of the Kirschner. It reminded me of the space in some of Brent Gutzeit’s recent albums, and even a bit of the wide understatement of Sukora’s Ice Cream Day! Nice Day! though much less extreme.

Marc Hasselbalch’s Exact Impo and levinson / mahlmeister’s 10-27-19 were both found via the lines forum. I’d heard Exact Impo a couple times already and a repeat listen was very welcome. Some gorgeous and patient work with a single function generator.

I really enjoyed 10-27-19 as well – if memory serves this EP is an edit from a series of improvisations, which is a recipe I usually enjoy. Overall the music is much more active and playful than anything else above but still sits nicely on the edge of the realm of atmosphere.

This recent brekekekekexkoaxkoax album hit the spot. I entered the nap zone somewhere near the end, but it was a haze of gentle guitar that I look forward to revisiting.

I have a lot of Le Berger to catch up on, it seems like he’s been fairly prolific recently. Peaceful as always.

Nathan Michel’s The Beast is one of those albums which has declared itself a part of my life & here to stay. I like his newer work with Hospitality but I really wish he’d do a conceptual follow-up to The Beast. Bit like wishing for a conceptual follow-up to Loveless I guess, but hey I’m one of those folks who liked MBV, so bring it on!

One memory I always have of this album is blasting it in my dorm room and a friend coming bursting in to ask what is this?? – he was just learning some specific style of drumming that is all over this album. I don’t know enough to say what exactly that means beyond what I can hear which is a certain type of really precise latency and calculated sloppiness. We just stood there listening together for a while. “This is a really hard thing to do!” You could say the same of the construction and arrangement of the songs – they read as playful and even a little simplistic on the surface but there’s so much clever neato music nerd stuff happening under the surface. I guess if this is the album you write while you’re finishing your composition PhD at Princeton that stands to reason you’d stick a bit of nerdery under the surface. Still, it’s all so detailed and wonderful without feeling forced or pretentious – not an easy feat.

Of course writing all this got me digging around and I was happy to find a treasure trove of unreleased and out of print music on Nathan Michel’s bandcamp page. Including a collection of tracks called Poor Cow that he recorded between the ages of 15 and 18. I was expecting… well I wasn’t expecting a polished-sounding 70s rock vibe. A prequel to The Beast? Sure. Amazing he was already right there with the Hospitality aesthetic 30 years ago. Also: he’s got a really great singing voice, even as a teen.