After a weekend listening to classic John Coltrane, the problem, as ever, is, what to listen to next? What won’t seem comparatively contrived and/or uninspired? Maybe these three chaps, with their synths and trombone? Good choice! Unfortunately it was my second. My first, by another electroacoustic group, was a bad one, the music sounding unbearably ugly and indeterminate after Trane’s sonic ascension. But this KILT disc is fresh and original, more keenly individuated than most of its type, and produces far more positive feedback.
KILT is Daniel Kordik, Ken Ikeda and Edward Lucas – KIL: the T is a mystery. Kordik is an analogue synthesist, originally from Bratislava. Lucas a trombonist from London. Together, they operate out of London as an established duo (Kordik Lucas, natch). Tokyo-born experimental musician and visual artist Ken Ikeda is also now based in London after a spell in New York. On this album’s four studio-recorded cuts, he matches Kordik’s analogue Vostok synth with a digital Yamaha DX.
Electroacoustic Improvisations (Earshots) is a short album, just four cuts in just over half an hour.
“HORLN” (12:12) makes for a probing entry, all sci-fi pings and hum-surges in apparent weightlessness, low reverberant detonations answering glints of echoic brightness, and Lucas’ muted mammalian mutterings answered by insectoid chittering. Which may sound chaotic, but all the variables are in balance, so the abstractions are summed and rounded out. There are peaks and re-calibrations though, as when bass synth notes take on a gravid vocal insistency, an ebb in the quantum of digitalia leaves Lucas as if gasping for air, or sprung metal detonations trigger a late flourish of contained friction.
The three remaining tracks are all shorter and more concentrated. “QUARNCH” is generally darker, with a hint of John Carpenter’s soundwork⏤Lucas growling menacingly, as if warning off the lurking unseen in ominous brooding⏤until the synths bifurcate to release occluded radiance, or so it sounds.
“SPEEL” is more coded, initially, as if in analogue correlation to RyojiI keada’s datamatics. As Lucas draws the trio into deeper, less charted waters, Ikeda seeks refuge in cold digitalia while Kordik sets up laminate drone textures, but Lucas again pulls them deeper.
Trombone and synths enter “TAK” engaged in a confabulation of vocalisations that might be inspired by Ben Burtt‘s Star Wars sound effects, but the piece then goes to the dark side of Bebe and Louis Barron’s work with magnetic tape, with trombone whimpering softly over analogue slurs and dim digital gloaming.
This trio has a very distinctive sound, with a near-perfect balance in the mesh and separation of inputs. The music doesn’t strive for effect and, importantly, it’s much more musical than it is abstract, with discernible form and limits. The title Electroacoustic Improvisations, with its suggestion of indeterminacy, sells it short.
Daniel Kordik – Vostok synthesiser; Ken Ikeda – DX synthesiser; Edward Lucas – trombone.
Buy Electroacoustic Improvisations direct from Earshots.