1. Instants // Paris
CATALOG: mikroton cd 51
RELEASE: November 2016
Günter Müller ipods, electronics
Norbert Möslang cracked everyday-electronics
Jason Kahn analog synthesizer, radio, mixer
Jason Kahn, Günter Müller and Norbert Möslang, all from Switzerland, comprise MKM trio, spontaneously founded in 2006 in Tokyo during their Japanese tour. They immediately achieved very fine results and collaborate since then. Their sound hovers between the at times harsh rhythmic noise of Norbert Möslang’s cracked everyday electronics and the rich sonorities of Günter Müller’s percussion-based samples and electronics. Jason Kahn’s work on analog synthesizer bridges these two worlds, adding high frequency interference and processed short wave radio input. Günter Müller launched Mikroton with his beautiful and rich Cym_Bowl and featured later on Limmat along with Jason Kahn and Christian Wolfarth, which was also Kahn’s second project following Planes with Asher, and later on Five Lines which was Möslang’s second project after Stodgy, a duo with eRikm.
Instants // Paris, their second release after msa in 2008 on For 4 Ears, takes you into the world of thudding pulse, noisy intermissions, tonal atmospheric drones and changing layers of sounds slipping in and out of consciousness.
A relatively brief live recording from 2012 of the trio of Gunter Muller, Jason Kahn and Norbert Moslang, featuring a varied pallet of analog and digital sound sources. A subdued whine sets up a level playing field upon which various structures are erected and then dismantled, as several discreet dialogues appear and then crumble under the weight of expectancy. Background and foreground shift and become confused, and sudden eruptions further complicate matters. Bursts of static over sweeping, heterodyning winds. Choppy throbs amid foreign drones, buzzes, hums and whines. A recurring bass pulse and chattering crackles.
The whole seems very much like the residue of radio and television signals, along with cell phone chatter and emissions from a myriad other electronic devices, combined and degraded by time and distance. The ever-evolving song of our constructed reality, gaining weight and pressure as time passes. If you know any of these gentlemen's previous works you may be able to pick out who is doing what. Whether or not this "helps" is entirely subjective, of course. I find it easier to just hang out with the unfolding. Kudos to Mikroton, who seem to be batting higher than average with their releases.
Instants // Paris (mikroton cd 51) entstand bereits 2012 @ Les Instants Chavirés in Paris. Am Werk waren als MKM mit Günter Müller, Norbert Möslang & Jason Kahn an Ipods, geknackter Alltagselektronik, Analogsynthie, Radio und Mixer drei altbekannte Pioniere elektronischer Liveperformanz. Stichwort: Signal to Noise. Wenn nicht gerade dramatisiert, so ist da der Alltag, der, wie Verkehrsgeräusche, Stimmfitzel und Radiogesang verraten, nicht so weit entfernt ist, doch recht turbulent aufgemischt mit kuriosen Klangeffekten und krassen Aktionslinien, die auf wubberndem oder pochendem Puls mit kakophonen Kratzern und abrupten Impulsen Action inszenieren. Da zuckt es blitzartig, da glissandiert es alarmierend, da ricochettieren und bersten Moleküle, da entgleisen ganze Molekülketten, brausend und britzelnd, surrend, wummernd, blubbernd und stechend. Die treibende Motorik und loopende Bruitistik verraten die postindustriale Traditionslinie.
Betont antikulinarische Elektronikentwürfe gehören indes ebenso ganz selbstverständlich zum Œuvre der Mikroton-Veröffentlichungspolitik. Einigen davon ist etwas dermaßen Harsches, Berserkerhaftes eigen, dass man damit nicht freiwillig die Gehörgänge möblieren möchte: Bemerkenswert ist es trotzdem, sowohl instants // paris von mkm (Günter Müller, ipod, e; Jason Kahn, synth, radio, mixer; Norbert Möslang, e), 2012 im, wie der Titel schon sagt, Instant Chavirés von Paris-Montreuil aufgenommen; und die CD mit dem kryptischen Titel aq ab al von Monteiro/Garcia (Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Miguel A. Garcia, e). Zwei Horte der Dystopie, Elektronik zum Fürchten, kampfeslustig, intensiv, massiv.
Following which it is perhaps time to up the ante again, a bit, with a trio that we haven't heard in quite a while, Günter Müller (iPods, electronics), Norbert Möslang (cracked everyday-electronics) and Jason Kahn (analogue synthesizer, radio and mixer). This is quite a meeting of opposites, I thought. Kahn's own music over the years has become subtler, and Möslang perhaps never went anywhere being silent. This recording, already almost five years old, is still something that is worthwhile to hear. It shows this trio in full force, which means that they are forcefully present most of the time in their sound. Lots of deep bass rumbling and high end screeching and just very few bits really down in volume. Towards the end there is such a passage of quietness; it seems as if the music is already done, certainly after all the noise that was poured over us in the past thirty or such minutes, but not, for at least six or seven minutes we hear very little and this might be, in good jazz tradition, Kahn's solo spot but he keeps his sound alive until the very, noisy, end of this. Unlike Garcia/Costa Monteiro, who keep their sound together during the entire duration of a piece, this trio bounces around all the time, leaping from one massive block of sound to a more detailed version thereof and back again. I must admit I don't remember this heaviness from their earlier releases, which I recalled were a bit more controlled and quiet. Maybe that night in Paris they were in the mood to call out the big guns and play some heavier on the occasion? I am not sure here, obviously, but whatever it is, it surely delivered an excellent release.
We used to hear quite regularly from Günter Müller, the Swiss improviser, with releases on his label For4Ears, instances of his work with like-minded individuals in a field which has, contentiously, become known as “electro-acoustic improvisation”. Based on today’s offering, EAI lives on – the trio here is mkm, comprising Müller and two other greats – Norbert Möslang, one half of Voice Crack, and proud player of “cracked everyday-electronics” since the 1970s; and Jason Kahn, the American percussionist and composer who has evidently made a home for himself on the European continent. Matter of fact this album instants // paris (MIKROTON CD 51) was performed and recorded in Paris in 2012. Everyone in the trio is playing some form of electronic (or digital) device – Günter Müller continues to use his ipods, Kahn has his analogue synth and radio set. 46 minutes of seamlessly blended drone music results: intense, hypnotic, detailed, and flawlessly executed; yet somehow not very challenging or surprising either. From 19th April 2017.
Kurt Liedwart’s Mikroton Recordings has been broadcasting dispatches from the outer realms of aural voyaging since 2008. Its discography takes in luminaries of abstract improvised sounds such as Keith Rowe, Jason Kahn and Burkhard Beins, as well as newer voices such as Lucio Capece or Miguel A. Garcia.
Mapping the label’s aesthetic would probably encompass the slow ruptures of Crypt-era AMM, the bruising subtleties of Berlin Echtzeitmusik and the glacial intensity of reductionism and its adherents. Electroacoustic improvisation is the phrase you’d reach for, I guess. But take a few steps into this Moscow label’s back catalogue and it becomes clear that this term is about as useful as mapping the ever-widening delta of these musicks as a paper cup is for boiling an egg.
Keeping up with Liedwart’s release schedule can be exhausting. But it’s rewarding, too. Time spent with a Mikroton release opens your brain and ears to the wonders of unconventional sound. Everyday objects are reconfigured into talismanic sonic generators and the orthodoxies of conventional instrumentation are subverted. Hurricanes in the bathtub. Prickles on the skin of a bubble. Scuffles in the grey dawn.
Most of the releases under review here came out earlier in the year. There have been several more since. But as entry points into Mikroton’s fascinating discography, they can’t be beat.
Back in 2012,the Swiss trio of Jason Kahn, Günter Müller and Norbert Möslang assembled in Paris for a lively session of hustle and grind. It wasn’t the first time they’d played together – their debut release was back in 2008 – but sufficient vitality remains here to counter any familiarity.
Kahn has since put his analogue synth and radio setup to one side in preference for longform vocal extemporizations, but this performance never feels like a museum piece. His contributions lock together with Müller and Möslang’s cracked consumer electronics to produce bursts of junkshop argy-bargy in which individual contributions are subsumed into the overarching grey drizzle.
Early sections are a bustling farrago, the collection of gritty burps and high, needling tones not dissimilar to ‘Valentine’, Kahn’s head-to-head with Phil Julian from a year or so back.
It’s chewy, tangible stuff, the irregular bursts of noise like some slo-mo Super 8 footage of a trio of dune buggies carving up the terminal beach. The crew swerve away from any kind of crescendo or manipulative sonic topography, instead allowing the vicissitudes of their kit and caboodle to create natural peaks and lulls. They can’t help building up a head of steam towards the end, though, with a full-spectrum chunter that would give a factory full of boiling kettles a run for its money, before cutting out for an appropriately deadpan finale.