Kunst :: Kunst (Kunst)

The exploration of the other is a central tenet of this album. Cunnane and Kendrick embark on a twelve track journey into the abandoned. Waste ground. The derelict building. The forgotten and unused, empty audio spaces are given life. Field recordings ghost in the background, their presence being an integral part of the sound and what gives the entire outing such a tactile quality.

Inside the heart of every would-be reviewer beats the heart of a fanboy. That first discovery of an artist or label, the first time you hear a certain something; that spark lives on year after year. Like many others a favorite of my teenage and early adult life was Rephlex Records. The energy, the mystery and the variety which Cornish imprint achieved has been rarely achieved by others. I was sad to see Rephlex close its doors, but I understood that directions and paths had changed.

Nevertheless, the fanboy is a powerful entity and mine came rushing to the surface, gulping down lungfuls of nostalgia, when an email arrived from a certain Grant Claridge Wilson—cofounder of a certain label with Aphex Twin. Was Rephlex to be resurrected? Would the Q-Chastic secret be unearthed? Something else? The latter is the answer. Kunst was the answer.

A new project from two artists who have flown their flag on Wilson’s emblematic imprint is fresh from the pressing plant. Although John Cunnane (dgoHn) and Jodey Kendrick have come at electronic music from different angles, the two have melted styles and rewritten genre borders for their collaboration.

Trying to define what the two have done is like nailing jelly to a wall. It’s definitely experimental, with Cunnae’s intricate drum programming being central. However if you’re thinking easy 4/4 rhythm think again. Likewise, if you’re thinking weirded-out noise it ain’t that either.

Nothing on this album is stable, the only constant is the lack of one. In truth there are common themes. The sounds, which are a blend of electronic and live, are subtle and understated. Shuffling beats, skittering hi hats and toms, clanking keys, drunken strings and that ever-pervasive test bleep. A wash of influences are present but so thoroughly mixed that trying to extract them is quite a feat. “Spep,” for example, slowly smolders. Xylophone notes bob in the flotsam and jetsam of bass and beat before they float into the eye of a hurricane. Calm descends, briefly. Cymbals crash, beats break and buckle as hip hop echoes rise to the surface. The tracks grow from simple seed. A single chord repeated. A thump. A snipped sample. From these humble beginnings bloom complex and challenging pieces, from gentle stirrings, as in “Han” or “Hill,” manic percussion romps and recedes while bells and metal clank.

The exploration of the other is a central tenet of this album. Cunnane and Kendrick embark on a twelve track journey into the abandoned. Waste ground. The derelict building. The forgotten and unused, empty audio spaces are given life. Field recordings ghost in the background, their presence being an integral part of the sound and what gives the entire outing such a tactile quality.

Making comparisons is near impossible, but they may be a life jacket for those lost in the Kunst sea. The fragility of Aleksi Perälä’s Colundi Sequence series is present, the delicate shifts that pull you deeper into the composition. There’s also a something of Marmo Music’s Modus or Tru West to the record, that free wheeling, ever changing, style where a free jazz attitude is applied to drums and all in between.

Kunst have set the listener adrift, adrift on storm racked seas, adrift on storm racked seas with only lightning flashes to give the briefest sense of direction. Despite these choppy waters, those almost unnavigable currents, the collection is far from chaotic. There’s a synergy in the disparity, a oneness in the otherness. It’s futile to try and set anchor with Kunst, to battle against their tide. The best advice, let this different and textured sound wash over you; don’t struggle against it, drop the sail and sit back to absorb a record that is ambitious, abstract and quite astounding.

Kunst is available on Kunst. [Clone]

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