CD Reviews

Matt Earle, Jason Kahn, Adam Sussmann – Draught

January 13, 2013

Consumer Waste

Some recordings of improvised music work because they exude a certain sensuality- a sensation of the music sliding and intertwining around itself to create something that feels organic, almost animalistic- an alive, constantly changing lifeform. Usually, when I feel this way about music, there is at least some degree of acoustic sound involved. My favourite performances of improvised music actually usually pair electronic with acoustic or at least electro-acoustic instrumentation, and examples of all-electronic improv groups that really make my toes curl are few and far between. Various pairings involving Tim Blechmann spring to mind, and one or two things with Toshi Nakamura, but otherwise there are few strong examples. Here then we have a trio listed as playing ‘various electronics’ that I find a very sensual, and powerfully engaging.

The duo of Adam Sussmann and Matt Earle, otherwise known as Stasis Duo amongst other monikers are another group dealing in primarily electronic sounds I have enjoyed down the years, though Sussmann has always listed acoustic guitar as a source of his sounds before this release. They are joined here by Jason Kahn, with whom they released an excellent free download album last year. Draught, a new release on Consumer Waste contains two recordings that actually date back to two years earlier than the previous album, having been recorded as long ago as 2009. Kahn mixes analogue synth around the fizz, crackle and growl of Earle and Sussmann’s lo-fi electronics, and while the three voices can all be separated at any one moment, its hard to know who is who over the course of the album. I recently went back and listened to an early Spontaneous Music Ensemble album, while researching something else, and listening here to Draught I am oddly reminded of that listening experience. While the music of the SME all those years ago was completely different in so many ways, the way that group flowed together, streamed all of their resources into one organic whole sprang to mind while listening here. Throughout Draught‘s forty minutes of bleeps and whistles, pops and crackles something equally natural, similarly democratic evolves. The three electronic voices merge and separate, but writhe around each other in a yes, very sensual manner to create music that feels like rushing water, or heavy windswept branches brushing against each other on a tree. None of this occurs by accident. The dips and pauses in the music, the passages of intense activity, the parts wherein sudden disruptive sounds counter more passive ones are all the work of three creative musical minds moulding everything together.

In some ways, Draught could be put forward as a good example of archetypal modern improvisation. Traditional instrumentation cast aside, but still the same ways of thinking, of combining contributions to make one small community of sounds. Its a fine album of improvised music. Probably no more than that but well worth remarking upon for just that reason. This is an album likely to be admired by a select few, but then filed away on the shelves. Only a hundred copies exist. Those should cover the potential market. It won’t make a mark on the world, and will probably escape the attention of a fair number of those that might enjoy it, but all I can do is recommend it to you.

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