CD Reviews

Sunday 15th February

February 16, 2009

For those that doubted my ability to keep this blog going on a daily basis, here’s my second post of the day 😉

Tonight I have been listening to the eighth, and last disc in the set of CDrs named Wiring my ear to the ground released on a “to order” only basis by the Malaysian musician Goh Lee Kwang. First of all my apologies to Lee and to anyone else that may have been annoyed that I didn’t manage to keep to my one-disc-a-day-for-eight-days plan. As you may have noticed, I found some of these discs quite difficult to listen to late at night when tired. They are all different and require individual consideration, and yet all are similarly demanding in a way I find hard to place into words. All of the pieces tend to focus on small events that could easily be just fleeting fragments of other pieces of music, but here are placed under the microscope and given plenty of time and space to gradually develop, sometimes dramatically, but quite often by only a small degree.

There is a kind of disconnected, alien feel to the recordings as well. My thought that they may not have been live performances and instead recordings taken from some kind of installation work still bug me, even though in places it is clear that this is not the case. This afternoon’s final CD, entitled ph2 is a murky, gritty example of the greyness of these recordings. They are not as such recorded badly, there is no hiss or background noise but instead they have a certain atmosphere about them that is difficult to pin down. This disc today has an underwater feel to it, possibly the result of some kind of digital treatment rather than anything else, but all of this gives the listener a peculiar sense of separation from the music. Across all of the pieces on these eight discs I cannot definitely identify what it is I am listening to. Clearly a laptop is used often, and certain digital processes can be identified here and there, but I can’t say for sure if any of the pieces were as such played in real time or are the result of some kind of process set in motion.

These eight discs leave me feeling intrigued and somewhat perplexed. I just don’t know if they are all recordings made at one long concert. I don’t understand the meaning behind the titles and how the pieces link together (if at all). As the last disc played this evening I found it cold and unwelcoming simply because it defied me to approach it as I would any other music. The material across these eight CDs is really quite original and actually quite unlike the half a dozen or so other discs I have by Goh Lee Kwang or even the one concert performance of his that I have attended. I feel like I have been beaten in some way by this music, as if it has set out to keep me at arms length and has resisted every attempt to break through. I struggle to find a way to enjoy it, and yet the experience of working my way through these discs in search of a chink of light has been rewarding.

I’ve only just realised that FLAC samples from some of the tracks can be downloaded from here so anyone intrigued can go and listen for themselves. I am obviously very interested to hear more about these pieces, to hear what others might make of them from those samples, and in particular to hear what Goh Lee Kwang has to add himself. I know that he has been reading my words, probably with immense patience considering my clueless guesswork about the music. Lee if you would like to add anything in the comments here please do, or send me an email and I will paste it into this text. I would very much welcome and appreciate your thoughts.

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