woensdag 21 januari 2015

The January Kairos by .No

Another month, another Kairos, the radio program by .No on Concertzender. Wo. delves again into music he usually does not hear and gives his unsalted version of the truth, according to Wo. that is.

The start of this Kairos is esoteric. The mystery of the mist in the fjords of Norway. Is that he hulk of a Viking ship I see there, passing through the fog? Filled with the barter of drunk Medieval sailors and the loot of long lost European cities. Like a movie that is played, soundless. The sound of the reel is mystified by the mind. My fantasy creates loops around it. The sound of long deceased Gregorian choirs in the large cathedrals spins in and out of my mind. That is the image the Seetyca's 'Bleakscapes 4' evokes in my mind. In this collaboration the German musician collaborated with the Oregon Origo String Quartet and Etheocles Stevens, who is
responsible for the lead singing. Again .No presents me with a piece of music that I would never have contemplated playing in my wildest dreams, let alone while awake. Seetyca's music is intriguing and has a pure sort of beauty, that kept me listening though the long song or better drones.

What happens next is that I was under the impressions that the song changed its structure and that Etheocles Stevens got a larger role, until I realised that .No had me again. This is a totally new song that merges with the drones and comes out solo. 'Her Sacred Spirit Soars' is a vocal composition, with male and female voices that move  around  and about each other in all sorts of counter melodies which remind me of the church of my youth. The composition of Eric Whitacre is sung by the Eric Whitacre singers. He also has a virtual choir, singers from around the world that come together online. Whether this composition is part of that, I can't tell. Complexly structured, 'Her Sacred Spirit Soars' has a deep inner beauty. Not my cup of tea, but certainly worth while listening to.

From a churchlike choral to the ambient music of ex-Roxy Music member, producer and of course solo musician Brian Eno. 'Lantern Marsh' from his album Ambient #4 ON LAND, is a slow composition with little development, with the sort of instrument as a part of the whole that clangs and rattles in the wind, hanging on a porch or veranda. There are sounds that could be the wind coming towards the hanging contraption in a slow but deliberate way; bringing nothing but more heat. The drone is the reflection of heat and light close to the horizon. Not exciting enough for me, but the music stirs my imagination with vivid images and senses.

'Lantern marsh' melts into 'How can I recognise my home' by Estonian composer Veljo Tormis. The composition is sung in Estonian by Eve Härma en Kadri Ratt while Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann plays the piano. Lone chords and notes, the vocal melody repeats itself regularly giving off the impression of a bedtime song for little children who do not want to sleep yet. Because of the language, but also faintly in the melody, the composition reminds me of the Finnish Complaint Choir. Also, this song, in a different arrangement, can easily be on the record of one of those modern folky girl duos or trios.

In 'Luminous insects' by Matthew Cooper & Mark T. Smith a million things happen. There is a composition, looped?, underneath samples of a million things, sounds and people in conversation, until a slow trance sounding synth comes in and I'm waiting for David Guetta's foghorn to sound and announce the moment the dancers are supposed to let it rip on the heavy beats; that of course never come. The melody just fades out leaving us with everything underneath that is also then faded out also.

And melts with the guitar sounds of Hans Kockelmans, who plays Francois Dufaut's 'Gigue'. Again Kockelmans shows his prowess on the guitar in this home recording. The guitar sound is so neat. This short composition is played just for me as if in the room. By far the most intimate recording on this Kairos.

The mix into I Am Oaks' 'Firm hands' from the band's latest album 'Ols songd' is more abrupt than usual for Kairos. Almost as if Hans Kockelmans plays a chord horribly wrong. It made me pay attention alright. 'Firm hands' is I Am Oak's composition that reminds me most of the late St. Thomas. A fine folk song, subdued and strong at the same time. 'Ols songd' was reviewed on this blog last year.

From Utrecht folk to Japanese flute. Kohachiro Miyata plays the traditional 'Honshirabe', which translates into "basic melody", if I'm to believe You Tube, where the song can be found in other versions as well. What can I say, someone blows on a flute Long, lingering notes. That's all that I can write here and add that it sounds somewhat mysterious. The theme of this Kairos? Mystery?

The flute is slowly mixed into the intro sound of 'All the years have fallen away' by Karine Eps, a duo, Chris Gowers and Frazer McGowan. A song in which the guitar and tape (hiss) mixes with the lone piano chords played by McGowen. All of a sudden the line "She's a visitor" is repeated over and over. A soft chant. Something that could be part of an art exhibition. Something from a video artist, in a video in which it is never clear what I'm looking at. The people and their going abouts may be understandable, but not within the presented context. Again mystery in sound and meaning. Robert Ashley's 'She's a visiter' is played over 'All the years have fallen away' until the tapes and loops take over created by the Dutch Ensemble MAE. Experimental electronics, a choir singing drones, weird sounds and hisses, the chant going on uninterrupted. A seance?, a gathering of witches?, it is hard to hear, but mysterious this composition is. And very far out out. Too far? Yes, it is. For me that is.

Next Douglas Dare comes by again. By now we can call Douglas Dare a .No favourite, having heard him in some previous Kairos episodes as well. 'Clockwork' is this month's choice. Ensemble MAE's hisses flow into Dare's piano playing. Listening to 'Clockwork' I can imagine this song in the charts if Dare tweaks the composition just a little in the right places. This song is as powerful as Hozier's 'Take me to church' and certainly James Bay's 'Hold back the river', both songs that chart as I write. 'Clockwork' holds the same power as those to songs do. It is a beautiful song and by far my favourite of this set. (Yes, .No, I know it's the most traditional sort of song here, but still.)

Kairos ends with a Dutch language song, 'Ben ook maar een mens' van Hans Andeweg. Again a DIY recording from Dutch soil. With a text that is what we call Kleinkunst, "Small art". I haven't got a translation here that does right to this word. Andeweg sings in a way that is from years back. The late Frans Halsema seems a large influence here. The song is melancholy and there are some surprising instruments that come into the song, that certainly lift the quality (and fun aspect). A beautiful, small song 'Ben ook maar een mens' is.


You can listen to January's Kairos here:


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