Z’EV + JASON KAHN: Intervals (Monotype Records)


Posted on Feb 4th 2011 01:36 am

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Z'ev + Jason Kahn: Intervals

Monotype Records 2010
02 Tracks. 47mins31secs

Intervals documents the first collaboration between two American experimental artists, recorded during two concerts in Lausanne and Zürich in April 2009. Z’ev, born Stefan Weisser in Los Angeles in the early fifties, is a poet and percussionist who has been active in industrial music for near on forty years, and has released an impressive number of solo and collaborative records. Over the years, Z’ev has worked with the likes of Stephen O’Malley, BJ Nilsen, Max Eastley, Merzbow, Oren Ambarchi and many more. Almost ten years his junior, New York-born Jason Kahn, who now lives in Switzerland, also a drummer and percussionist, has been making music since the early eighties, either as part of various formations or as a solo artist. His work also incorporate sound installations, scores and radio work.

While the pair had been in contact once before, a few years ago, they didn’t actually meet until Z’ev, who was due to visit Geneva, suggested some live performances together. Using Kahn’s recording of the two evenings, Z’ev built the two pieces collected here. While the source material, drums and analog synthesizer, can still at times be identified, the respective techniques of the two, combined with the heavy processing applied later on transcends the particular set up to create a surprisingly atmospheric soundtrack. Drums and percussions are used for their unique sonic quality rather than as rhythmic tools. There is a certain fragility in the complex meanderings captured here, as themes developed and retreat throughout the twenty or so minutes of each track.

Lausanne opens with clusters of metallic noises, possibly cymbals being dragged on the floor, which are later layered with the much more delicate sound of grains running through a hollow wooden body until the sombre thuds of a bass tom come into focus, indicating a stark change in mood. From the relatively light surroundings of the first half of the piece, there is virtually nothing left in the second. Instead, dark clouds continuous to gather as increasingly undefined sounds appear. At one point, the tension appears to step back a little, as a soft metallic hum becomes for a moment the sole audible component, but this is short lived, and underlying drum tremors rise to the surface once again.

Zürich is never quite as clearly split, or at least, never quite so permanently. Instead, the piece goes through a series of phases, some light, some darker, evolving in much more contrasted fashion. At first, it is as if it was raining on the pair, but once again much more somber tones roll in  to disturb the peace, yet there is never anything quite as threatening as on the previous piece. If the tone darkens drastically, there remains a lighter balance between the various segments. The track goes through some rather bare moments however, where only drone-like electronics and processed drum noises fill  the space, creating some brief periods of vacuum where no other sound than the ones set in isolation can penetrate. This is very much the case around the fifteen minute mark, and again a few minutes later. Each time, these are eventually overcome, but they contribute to keep an element of tension, although developed from an entirely different process to the previous piece.

Intervals is an intriguing record which never delivers quite what one would expect. This contribute to making its unusual set up even more striking. Z’ev and Kahn are very creative with the sounds at hand, and the result is nothing short of fascinating.


Z’ev (MySpace) | Jason Kahn | Monotype Records

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