Kenneth Kirschner - Twenty Ten [12K - 2011]New York based Kenneth Kirschner work is very difficult to bracket into one genre or under one label, his work sits somewhere between ambience, slowed electronica and subtle electronic minplation, stripped modern classic composition, and minimalistic modern classical piano music. His pieces are often lengthy, slow, darkly tinged and seemingly sparse, yet strangle hypnotic & cleverly/ complexly built sonic structures that pull you deeply into their slow moving worlds. This new three CD set offers up just four pieces that fall between twenty three minutes & fifty one minutes a piece.
After mention how slow & dark Kirschner work is unexpectedly the three disc set starts off in a very lively, buoyant and colourful form with “January 4, 2011”(all of Kirschner works are named after the date he started them). The 23 minute piece is built around different layers of bright/vibrate metallophones and xylophones playing which Kirschner arranges into a shifting tapestry of buoyant, rhythmic and patterned sound. The tracks a brave, surprising and cleverly Day-Glo start to the set, but after this point things take a decidedly more dark, moody and slower in pace.
The other track on disc one is the just over forty two minutes, and it's entitled “November 7, 2010”. This track finds Kirschner building an hypnotic and melancholic sonic spider web of hurt & lost piano tinklings, slowly sweeping sustained and clipped string drone textures, close up piano key noises, and possible some very subtle vibe work. The track sounds like a woozy and stuck suicidal doom paino waltz, or a hazed and creepily slurred take on Morton Feldman piano music, and the further you get into the track the deeper you get sucked it to it's nighttime world.
Disc two is completely taken up by “September 25,2010” which comes in just over the forty seven minute mark. This track is a lot more spread out than the first discs two tracks, it’s built around a mixture of string, woodwind and horn work which lets out a series of notation patterns that are broken up by long gaps of silence. This counter play between sudden burst of smooth yet sinister notation and silence is very effective, and creates this sort of 'on the edge of your seat' yet slightly morose feeling in the listener.
Disc three features another single and lengthy track in the form of “January 18,2011” which is the longest track here at just over fifty one minutes. And this track is built around often jarringly cut layers of morose & sinister piano tinklings, recording air hiss, and genreal lo-fi speaker/tape or recording static fuzz & streach. When the track first starts you'll think there’s something wrong with your cd player or Mp3 player, as it keeps seemingly randomly cutting out, but as you get used to Kirschner compositional lay out you get sucked deeper and deeper into the sad, jerking and morose beauty of the track. As the track goes on you get sudden build-ups of lo-fi yet subtle noise texture reels running against the warbling and juddering map of hurt piano notes, but just when you think it might suddenly fall into all out lo-fi textural drift or noisy overload Kirschner masterfully pulls the track back down to silence or more morose piano scaping. This particular track is one of the most subtle lo-fi noisy things I’ve heard Kirschner do, and it’s simply spellbinding stuff. Let’s hope he attempts to work more of the subtle, lo-fi, and noisy elements into his future work as it’s highly effective.
With out a doubt Kenneth Kirschner is one of the most captivating, consistent and rewarding of today’s modern composers. “Twenty Ten” once more shows him at the top of his game presenting a selection of four tracks that each manage to capture a very distinctive sonic air & set of emotionally responses. Simply put breathtaking & unmissble stuff.Roger Batty