Going Up
Ad Hoc 12

By Ken Waxman

Singular in intermingling slices of Occidental and Oriental sonic cultures, K-Space creates so-called World Music in a phenomenological fashion. With this memorable CD awash in percussion rhythms and non-site-specific, pre-recorded sounds, each tradition is affected equally. In this context the ostensibly mystic Asian background adapts to improvisation, while supposedly rational European concepts are altered.

Thus a piece like “Three Dangers”, with each trio member playing Tuvan drums and rattling bells has as much to do with jazz percussion ensembles like Max Roach’s M’Boom as field recordings. With its repetition initially designed to induce a trance-like state, this variation featuring double-timed triple counterpoint moves it into the secular realm.

K-Space depends as much on Scotland’s Ken Hyder’s jazz and improv-derived drumming, and Briton Tim Hodgkinson’s ProgRock and formal composition impulses expressed through his reeds and steel guitar playing as Tuvan Gendos Chamzyryn’s shamanistic vocal gymnastics and frame drum resonation. Guttural, throat-expanding overtone singing mixed with the wolves yowling or birds chirping may be prominent on several tracks, but this interplay is filtered through a Western musical framework.

Quivering electronic textures and protracted silences segment the nearly 16-minute “Black Sky” so that triple-tempo dungur beats alternate polyphonically with the bounces and rebounds of Hyder’s kit, while Hodgkinson’s string outlay mutates from bottleneck guitar to Mongolian two-string fiddle. A climax is reached with alp-horn like echoes interrupting foreground rattles and basso vocal rumbles.

Going Up’s achievement hints that this distinctive interaction may also benefit from the three musicians’ half-remembered primeval northward orientation.

In MusicWorks Issue #98