zondag 7 januari 2018
December 2017, Kairos by .No on Concertzender
What a difference a day makes! Finally some time to listen to the program (and the courage to do so, I'll admit). A holiday is a holiday, also from writing about music.
This month's Kairos opens with a high voice. And very softly at that. The voice is joined by other voices and I'm in the midst of modern choir music composed by Lárus Sigurðsson. Looking him up, it's no surprise that the man in from Iceland. That he is a member of a postrock band called Stafraenn Hakon is. What I hear has nothing to do with rock, although the guitar has a slight edge to it. 'Entry By The Wolf Door', whatever that means, is dreamy, otherwordly. The song holds a lot of beauty within it and has something special that compels me to listen.
An acoustic guitar enters the atmospherics. Enter 'Smoor' by Anna & Peter Clijssen. The rough voice of Peter reminds me of the songs of Ries de Vuyst that featured regularly on Kairos about one to two years ago. Sung with an accent that I'm unfamiliar with, but may be Sealandish. The folk tune is basic yet has something around it that pulls a fist around my heart, making me feel uneasy and alert, on the look out for whatever may be around the bend.
The accordion that sets in, could have been an addition to 'Smoor', but is not. It is the start of a reintroduction to the music of Pauline Oliveros. Her 'A Love Song' is everything but that. I'm having a déja vu as if I have written that line before during a Kairos and not too long ago at that. What I get is a feeling of the end of love. Can one call that a love song? Is it written in stone that a love song has be about falling or being in love? If not, 'A Love Song' is a love song, lamenting the end of it. The long oooooooos are cries of pain and wonderment. What has just happened to me?, is what Oliveros seems to be asking herself.
A piano comes in, after which French singing joins. A typical French voice, with that edge of the combination of too many Gauloises and Pernod creates in a voice. 'Hors-saison' is a beautiful ballad though. Slow, with swelling violins behind the piano and Cabrel's voice. The ballad holds the balance between beauty and melancholy in a superb way, taking me on a ride of lamentation that only the finest of ballads can.
Heiress returns with another song, 'Pteryla'. One of the albums I can take credit for for being played on this show, as it just fits in here. The mix seems perfect from 'Hors-saison' until 'Pteryla' has to take over all by itself. It simply dives of a cliff into nothingness as if the ground disappears under Heiress' feet. It took me about 30 seconds to adjust and to come into the beauty of this song. Novo Amor's high voice makes sure 'Pteryla' never crashes down below, but sails away over the waves before doing so. "Bring an ocean down" is not sung for nothing by the duo. 'Heiress' is one of the more special albums of 2017.
Kairos also returns to Pechenga. The atmospherics of 'Hamningberg' blend with the ending of 'Pteryla'. Slowly taking over completely with ever stranger sounds that do make a melody. The mood is meditative with long held notes of different sounds and textures. The central melody rides over it like a surfer the waves. I notice that I'm really in the mood for this by now and can totally submerge in the music. This is a very modern form of classical music.
Next up is a singer I truly hope will release a new album soon. Here we return to her album '1983' and the song 'Travelogue'. From a period that her music was more sober than on her latest two albums. The (double-tracked) voice of Sophie Hunger is accompanied only by an electric guitar and it is enough. 'Travelogue' is utterly convincing.
The change to a weird sounding intro on a (bass) clarinet? is a large one. I have moved into some free jazz sort of outing, beautiful in sound though. And yes, now I read the title it is a bass clarinet. Jorg Verhoeven plays track 2 of 'Meditation Bass Clarinet'. There are some other sounds in there that I have a harder time at defining. I can't see myself meditating on this music though. The unrest is everywhere. What I am able to do, is follow the ups and downs of the music and that is somewhat soothing, I notice.
The switch to Nils Frahm's 'Nue' is flawless. The two songs just blend for a few seconds and I'm into Frahm's exercise on accordion. I will not go as far and call this music. Nils Frahm is not trying to write a song here. He's toying with an accordion, maybe even two, playing short, fast notes. I can listen to it but do not see the added value for me in there.
Jeroen Elfferich also returns to Kairos. Starting with some piano notes, driving the unrest of 'Nue' away. 'Mini Minimal 3' (me I wanted to write, for 'Austin Powers' fans) is so much more relaxed. At least in contrast with the composition before it. This composition, I start noticing, has an undercurrent and yes, around 32.40 minutes into Kairos it comes out. Elfferich starts playing the piano in the same way as Frahm played the accordion. The same bass notes come around giving the song a hint of balance. I feel like having to scratch myself, relentlessly, a minute into it. Just before I start doing so, the relative tranquillity returns. A counter melody joins, showing that Jeroen Elfferich really knows what he is doing.
Madness seeps in slowly. It is Jorg Verhoeven who returns with another part of track 2. Playing in a higher register than before, also at a more frantic pace that before. The "other sounds" are more alive as well. I start noticing the echo on both instruments used in the recording, creating the sense of standing in a large vault or cave, where someone at the other end is making music. Music of a nature that does not invite me to come closer and investigate. I can imagine hearing this melody being sung by a church choir though. When does this finally stop?, is a question I've repeatedly asked myself during the 6 minutes plus of this excerpt.
'Isotach' is an album by Matthew Bourne. Also a veteran of Kairos by now. He gets two songs in one go, which is fairly exceptional for Kairos. Instant satisfaction as I'm delivered from Verhoeven, but what does Bourne really bring? Atmospherics with a piano playing slow notes. The first composition is called 'Wedding Mala (for Dave and Nicola)'. Soon followed by 'Extinction'. The atmospherics are gone, the piano remains. It is so easy to imagine a whole violin quartet underneath the piano, that I even seem to imagine them being there. To my surprise strings do enter later on. Playing only elementary accompaniment to the basic notes of Bourne himself. Or were they so soft in the mix before, I simply just heard them? Nice question. The mood Bourne sets down is slowly soured by the way the instruments are played. An eerie mood creeps in changing everything. Like a dream can change into a nightmare slowly but surely.
No time to stop though. I Am Oak is announcing itself. This fall I wrote about the solo performance live album of Thijs Kuijken, released as a mini album with beautiful artwork. 'Curt' is one of the eight songs on 'Pictures Of The Floating World'. An artist at his most vulnerable. Kuijken looked the dragon into the mouth and came out winning. Just a guitar and his voice is all he needs to silence the world. Nothing seems to be going on. No fancy guitar work, no high gliding vocal melodies, yet it is enough.
After showcasing his cousin Hans Kockelmans regularly on Kairos things get even worse: .No is presenting his own music, 'Energy'. Moving straight through I Am Oak as if he isn't there, the strange noise morphs into the Vocal Group Utrecht. 'Run To You' is a mix of male and female voices. Lots of dynamics in the singing. At the end the group starts to play with the song. If they are able to do that more, they will become even better.
The result of a chance meeting in a train this last song is, as described in the introduction to this Kairos on the Concertzender website. Go over there now with the link below and start listening.....
00:11 Lárus Sigurðsson. Entry by the wolf door. Album ‘We are told that we shine’. Volkoren.
05:05 Peter Clijssen. Smoor. Anna & Peter Clijssen. Album ‘Vagantenkost’. Self-released.
07:56 Pauline Oliveros. A love song. Album ‘
The Well And The Gentle’. Hat ART 2020.
12:05 Francis Cabrel. Hors-saison. Album Hors-saison. Chandelle COL 494202 2.
16:17 Novo Amor (Ali Lacey) & Ed Tullett. Pteryla. Album ‘Heiress’. All Points.
20:22 Pechenga. Hamningberg. Album Helt Borte. Smalltown Supersound STS202CD
23:25 Sophie Hunger. Travelogue. Van album ‘1983’. Two Gentlemen Records twogl 009-J
25:55 Jorg Verhoeven. Track 2 from Album ‘Meditation Bass Clarinet’. Self-released.
29:54 Nils Frahm. Nue (fragment). Album ‘Winter Music’. Erased Tapes Records eratp18cd.
32:41 Jeroen Elfferich. Mini Minimal 3. Album ‘Elfferich Four Hands, minimal music for 2 pianos. Self-released.
37:04 Jorg Verhoeven. Track 2 from Album ‘Meditation Clarinet’. Self-released.
43:45 Matthew Bourne. Wedding Mala (for Dave & Nicola). Album ‘ISOTACH’. LEAF BAY 105CD.
45:12 Matthew Bourne. Extinction. Album ‘ISOTACH’. LEAF BAY 105CD.
52:13 Thijs Kuijken/ I Am Oak. Curt. Album ‘Pictures of the Floating World. Snowstar Records.
54:43 Wino Penris. Energy (fragment). Private recording.
55:12 Kevin Olusola, Avi Kaplan, Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kirstin Maldonado and Ben Bram (music, words and arrangements). Run to You. Vocal Group Utrecht. Private recording.
You can listen to this Kairos here: