Jason Kahn + Jon Mueller 'Phase' WAV File (FSS, 2010)

This is the first and could quite possibly be the only digital download I will ever buy. And yes, I did purchase this. I don't really know why exactly. It was cheap for one ($2.00) and well, the sound sample was so good and such a tease at the same time that I couldn't help but grab it. I am by no means trading in my vinyl. No way. The SF has always and will always condone the furtherance of physical media. This was just too tempting to pass on. So call me a hypocrite if you like, but today, the SF is "going digital."

Jason Kahn & Jon Mueller

This definitely isn't the first time these two have collaborated, and I doubt if it'll be the last. On Phase, Kahn and Mueller's percussive set-ups seem at their fullest. The dense fluctuations of the single 39 minute track bring to mind Kahn's indelible 2009 release, Vanishing Point. As if existing as a sister piece, the two start off in similar suit (minus the noticeable use of tape hiss on VP), but differ in their end-point trajectories. Phase rarely deviates from its unrelenting form. The swirling undulations of tumultuous drum-skin clatter and subdued frequencies shift more in their presence than anything else. The layers supposedly phase (hence the title), although a steady decay as the track winds to a close is more noticeable. The consistency is jarred only briefly by the laser precision of what sound like high-end sine waves, adding a satisfying punchiness.

The interesting thing about the way Kahn and Mueller utilize percussion–in all their work but especially in this release–is the initial ambiguity of the sounds. Someone listening to this who is ignorant to the sources of these sounds will get lost in its seemingly impenetrable wonder. However, if that person were to suddenly become aware of the percussive sources, they would immediately start to recognize their telling features in the music. Interesting when considering the unconventional use of common instruments and the masking of these instruments in composition. Great stuff from these two, like all their collaborations. Hope to see this issued on cd one day.


Bruce Adams said...

There is a physical object, or rather objects, associated with Phase. A limited edition of silk-screened prints on chip board has been released by FSS. There are four prints designed by Jason Kahn in each set, which includes a download of the 39 minute track.

Elizabeth said...

It's a slippery slope, Adrian! (those digital downloads)

a d r i a n said...

Bruce, thanks for this. I guess I didn't do all my homework. Thanks for letting me know.