| Musicians proposals | 2005-12-14
|This is the first review of K-Space's Going Up cd. It says it all.|
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AD HOC CD
Bear Bones (SLAM CD) the 2002 release by shamanic improvising trio K-Space has provided some of the richest and most absorbing repeated listening I've experienced from a CD in recent years. Potent, stimulating and uproarious music. Going Up, the sequel from Scottish drummer Ken Hyder, English multi-instrumentalist Tim Hodgkinson and Tuvan throat singer and percussionist Gendos Chamzyryn promises to be still more rewarding and illuminating through time. Above and beyond procedures of improvised music-making K-Space is a long-term research project. It was established nearly a decade ago, in the course of one of Hyder and Hodgkinson's Radical Transcultural Initiatives, taking musical experimentation to rural communities in southern Siberia where they encountered Chamzyryn and found common ground.
For Going Up these musicians have superimposed performances from different occasions and places, some dating back to Hyder and Hodgkinson's initial trip to Siberia in 1990, but also concerts staged in Western Europe. These recordings, with their disparate acoustic properties, are overlaid and overlapped to form dense sonic thickets alive with action and event, palpably embedded in the multidimensional flux of the world and lived social structures. Human voices conversing, footfalls on frozen ground, a blackbird singing, the sound of the wind or water, the crackling of wood in a fire, audience applause - sounds from specific sites with their own peculiar resonance and significance leak through the K-Space mesh into the listening present.
This layering and the filtering through of discrete geographic and temporal occasions compounds that superimposition already at work in the trio, the piling up and overlap of intense personal experience. Chamzyryn, a bona fide shaman and folk artist; Hodgkinson, academically trained in social anthropology, an exploratory rock musician, composer and radical improviser; Hyder, jazz drummer, free player, inveterate field worker in remote musical worlds. Chamzyryn brings his astonishing deep-vocal overtone singing and the trance tempo beat of his dungur shaman drum. Hodgkinson plays lap steel guitar and reeds. Hyder, heard drumming and singing, tells me that this music puts into practice "a whole lot of things we've learned over a very long time". But that practical knowledge and acquired technique inhere in the substance of this remarkable montage; it's never really a matter of who's playing what or how. Other instruments feature; other sounds whose source is unclear.
K-Space offer an invitation to immersive listening, to jettison auditory compass, watch and map and plunge beyond familiar coordinates, into the openness, instability and fluidity of their singular music. Going Up layers episodes of instrumental, vocal and environmental sound activity to induce states of listening that don't merely involve expectations being met. It creates its own contexts, shifting shape, juggling time, volatile with details realigning on each listen. And it carries the imprint of a lived world that admits fascination as well as intensity of physical experience.
The name K-Space refers to theories of Russian astrophysicist Nicolai Kozyrev who argued that time is a conduit for energy. He developed a kind of time-machine, a spiral room which Hyder and Hodgkinson entered during their travels. Cast into darkness Hyder experienced a sensation of flying. Both men were moved at a level that they feel reluctant or unable to put into words. The scientist, it seems, was in pursuit of wisdom transmitted amongst shamans.
Arcane science, esoteric lore and its fallout in musical practice that departs from regulative norms prevailing even in much avant-garde Western music. It's difficult to write of K-Space without sounding uncomfortably portentous. But it really does offer redress for the flimsy pretensions of the many market oriented cross-cultural hybrid musical confections that have been manufactured during the past few years. In his recent interview with Will Montgomery (The Wire 262) Hyder speaks from the inside of K-Space in ways that are entirely persuasive, restoring gritty credibility to the vocabulary of "spirit" while making a case for the excitements and revelations of creative disorientation. Far removed from the weightlessness of World Music impressionism and the sham of New Age flotsam Going Up, as Hyder rightly observes, approaches the condition of "total music". The crucial thing is to hear and feel it. It's made for those of us who want listening to remain a real adventure and an ongoing process of discovery.
And here's a link to an MP3 of the first track -
Wire profile -
UK distributors -