JASON KAHN : Vanishing Point
23five015, Compact Disc
published in 2009
$12.98, plus shipping
The American sound-artist Jason Kahn is an exacting technician when it comes to the principles of noise. However, his application of noise in composition is not that of Merzbow or Masonna, with teethgnashing explosions of distortion, feedback, and volume; rather, Kahn's psychoacoustic techniques employ the specific frequencies of white, pink, brown, and blue noise in works that reflect the ideals of minimalism. These are sounds that regularly occur through the constant vibration of machinery; and Kahn is more than happy to appropriate such events through field recording. He also generates complementary noises through systems that involve the rattling architecture of a drum kit or through his trusted analog synthesizer.
Vanishing Point is a 47 minute composition, which Kahn has dedicated to his daughter who died shortly before Kahn began working on this piece in 2007. For all of the phenomenological studies and stoic mesmerism attributed to much of his catalogue, Vanishing Point is a subtle and hypnotic elegy for rattling metals, timbral vibration, gossamer static, hissing field recordings, and those aforementioned colored noises. Soon into the piece, Kahn introduces a flickered ghost of melody whose luminous tones manifest ever so slightly against his contrails of noise. The upper register hiss and statics of these layered noises slowly drop in pitch and frequency over the duration of the piece, revealing subharmonic rumblings and an oceanic current that tugs at the agitated textures of Kahn’s surface noises. This glacial, minimalist shift renders Vanishing Point elegant and meditative.
In Kahn’s own words, "At first I thought of the title in reference to Louise's passing, that point where she vanished from our lives, but on further reflection I came to see the compostion as dealing with other vanishing points. I address the idea of one’s sense of time vanishing, being immersed in sound and entering a place of timelessness. There is also the idea of boundaries between electronic and acoustic sound vanishing, as in this piece I draw on both sources. And finally, in the sense of aural perspective extending to the point where we imagine it ending, as the compostion stretches on towards its vista, slowly vanishing."
Vanishing Point sees the welcome return of one of the great tension building improviser & artistic noise makers Jason Kahn who also ran the excellent tense improv label Cut which sadly closed its doors last year after a run of 25 near perfectly releases. Vanishing Point is one near on fifty minute long track that's a tribute to Kahn's Daughter who sadly died a few years back. The piece starts out nicely with a sheen of tense yet controlled static grainy,under which Kahn slowly and carefully revolves this slowed, dreamy & rather sad harmonic drone that sounds like it could have originated from an organ of some kind. As the piece progresses Kahn elegantly & masterfully adds in subtle texture changers & developments like tight cymbal like rain, tense yet oddly soothing layers of static & off-centre rhythmic ticks & tocks. At about the 15 minute mark the harmonic drone drops out to be soon replaced by a more stuck & almost panicked drone loop; the piece now seems to turn a lot more inverted, fearful, almost emotional raging & tense- yet it's still very controlled & precise in its exaction. At about the 20 minute mark Kahn easers back the tight sheens on static texture for this distant rumbling type noise that links in with the second drone, the tone now feels less angered and more weary, tired & rundown. As the piece moves towards it's last ten minutes or so the rumbling sound has become more of a distinct metallic clattering 'n' clank & very low/troubled drone has taken centre stage- it's tense yet very tired & emotional empty. The piece slowly but surely runs it's self down with the odd flecks of the original warming melodic drone just flitting the side of the sounds. Really a breathtaking near on hour of beautiful focused, controlled and excucted sonics. Truly, Vanishing Point is a spellbinding, emotional & captevating mixture of drone, noise & improve. I very much doubt I will come across a more though-out, emotional varied & special piece of long form sound scaping this year, simply unmissble & heartbreaking stuff. -- Roger Batty
Jason Kahn is an apparently marginal or transitional figure, a former drummer who has broadened his work to incorporate electronics and field recordings in installation and composition, and who may in time turn out to be one of the key players in live electroacoustic music. Certainly a glance at his extensive discography betrays his breadth of vision and his dedication to his work, in all its aspects. This composition, a single 47 minute symphony of hiss, clatter, and hum, reveals his stature at first hearing. Plenty of people can layer field recordings, analogue electronics, and pure sine tones to make a sandpaper stew. Not everyone has Kahn's patience, his forensic hearing, and his understanding of psychoacoustic phenomena, tools which enable him to use these somewhat meager materials to fashion a work as engrossing and rewarding as Vanishing Point. He mentions that the work was partly inspired by the loss of his daughter, but it carries no sorrow or absence of thrill in life. The unfolding balance of the sound causes a glow of pleasure, a satisfaction with life quite at odds with the work's ostensible theme. The work seems to develop by external abrasion of the outward surface of the work, as though layers of noise have been physically sanded away to show an inner structure previously latent within the overall sound. Even though it is a long piece, it seems to be quickly excusing itself as it carefully, discreetly, and at great length fades to nothing, having plateaued early and hovering on the edge of the listener's consciousness -- approaching a vanishing point analogous with the center of visual perspective. Here austerity meets the minimal balance point of sufficiency -- there's just enough going on to satisfy the ear without becoming false to its minimal form through over-ornamentation. -- Bruce Russell
Art imitates life, and, in some cases, life imitates art. Or at least this is the assumption -- that the two, art and life, are somehow separate, that one causes the other. But what about when the two are actually intertwined, inseparable from each other? This argument gets convincing support in Jason Kahn's latest solo full-length, which is cast in the brief liner note as a tribute to his late daughter, Louise. "While I was working on this piece," he writes, "I was thinking of my daughter Louise, who died two years ago. I guess the title refers to her vanishing, though I can't say exactly. I just know I was thinking of her a lot when I was working on this and then this title came to mind." So the title, at least, came from life. But what of the work itself? That's not so clear-cut; "I can't say exactly," he says. Vanishing Point is a single, 46-minute composition built from agitated metals (presumably cymbals), muted static, field recordings and some low-frequency vibration. For the first third of the piece, the static (accompanied by some undulating strains of delicate feedback) is the dominant sound. The mix is crowded and blurred, almost claustrophobic. But around the 15-minute mark, a shift occurs, so subtle you miss it at first. Underneath the wash of almost white noise, a mass of activity appears -- the constant, brassy rattle of a cymbal, a spectral melody humming in the bass. An idea emerges, dissipates, something new appears. This progression continues for the remainder of the piece, which slow-fades to an elegiac hum of gently resonating metals and flickers of static at its conclusion.
The piece, then, does just what the title says: it gradually vanishes. But this inverted shape and change of activity has the effect of revealing more and more detail, as only when Kahn removes an element do you notice its full impact. Only after the hissing static disappears, for example, do you realize how truly dominant it was, likewise the subdued melody in the bass range. But it's not a simple case of subtraction or a decrease in volume at work, but rather a shift in dynamic relationships -- background becomes foreground, what was incidental takes the focus. What was there gets replaced by something else. It's inevitable. Significantly, Vanishing Point represents a similar kind of shift in how we hear Kahn's whole body of work. Much of it has tended to come off as austere radio research (such as graphical scores and location-specific installations), investigating vibration, space, dynamics and how musicians interact with these. Our assumption of art following life would play out here: Kahn is interested in these phenomena, therefore he makes art that investigates them. But if we consider that separating art from life is not so easy, then his work, and Vanishing Point in particular, start to become something much more nuanced, much more personal. As listeners we get to hear how Kahn is hearing. We get a new pair of ears, a new way of perceiving. No longer objective and fixed, but subjective and fluid. Less science, more poetry. -- Matthew Wuethrich
I got to see Jason Kahn perform live at Activating the Medium in 2008 during a really memorable Californian weekend get away. His set was the highlight of the night for me and after hearing about this publication on 23five I started to get excited about the man's work again. I got to say though, I wasn't expecting this. Vanishing Pointis probably the best thing I've heard this year. Equal parts subtle shifting percussive tonalities and Gossamer static (Some kind of aircraft?) + hissing field recordings. The album can seem both a flurry of sonic activity and a static nothingness. Rattling metals bubble up from the void as the static evaporates, giving way to lusher tonalities and a helicopter-blade-like sputter. Finally with only 7 minutes to spare, a short circuited wire spurts and fizzes atop the now docile drone. To think it all started as such a cacophony. Brilliant. -- Adrian Dziewanski
First impressions — are they usually correct? They can be deceiving, they can be right on the money; an exact science it is not, certainly. Remember that maxim after inserting and hitting play on Vanishing Point, the newest disc by sound abstractionist and improviser Kahn. On first impression, this amounts to forty-plus minutes of hiss; you know, the sonic ephemera, the shadow, the leftover, if you will, that resides on the event horizons of magnetic tape, the kind of sonic "detritus" that engineers usually endeavor to remove, not emphasize. But, this being Jason Kahn, nothing is ever quite like it seems; he's too adept a composer, even when such composition is done on the fly, to waste his waking hours on empty posturing.
Created in the tragic wake of his daughter's death in 2007, Vanishing Point is both the noisiest and most confrontational of Kahn's numerous recordings. Not that this is noise of the Merzbow variety, but the music's emotionally charged surface reveals the artist nevertheless baring elements of his wracked soul. As the sole lengthy work unfolds it's evident Kahn's interested in aerobicizing his intellectual muscles through deep harmonic exercises in timbre, tone, and texture. Careful listening to the burgeoning mountains of hiss exposes layers of thick, Niblockian tones that jostle for position amongst the moist cacophony. Ideologically, one is likely to draw parallels between the "deep listening" concepts of Pauline Oliveros and her ilk rather than any of the hirsute denizens of the contemporary noise scenes. Additionally, though Kahn manipulates his sources to produce varying eddies of brusque soundwaves, this work tends to sidle up more to the kling-klang of today's drone meisters than anything out of the onkyo school. Kahn's embracing of "minimalism" in this regard closely resembles Greg Davis' recent Mutually Arising more so than the gruel of, say, Zbigniew Karkowski, whose engulfing sonic blasts preach volume instead of vivacity. All theorizing to the contrary, Vanishing Point feels more cathartic than engaging. Kahn's conflicting turmoil achieves something of a boiling point throughout the piece's entirety, never quite achieving crescendo or ultimate release. It is, in an ironic contradiction, his most abrasive piece of work thus far, one so overtly personal that even stripped of context, makes for a particularly enervating listen. -- Darren Bergstein
Avant de faire d'être un compositeur de musique électronique, Jason Khan est un vrai musicien. De formation classique, cet américain né à New York en 1960, a grandi à Los Angeles ou il fit des étude de composition. Son travail tourne plus spécifiquement autour d'installations sonores dans le domaine de l'art contemporain, en collaboration ou en solo. Ses expositions et installations tournent dans le monde entier. Sur Vanishing Point, Khan présente une longue pièce bruitiste de 47 minutes dédiée à sa soeur Louise, décédée quelques mois avant que l'artiste n'entre en studio. Si l'américain travaille sur le bruit et la saturation, ce n'est en aucun cas dans le but d'agresser son auditoire. A l'inverse de bien des artistes dans ce domaine, il tente au contraire de donner différentes colorations émotionnelles aux multiples couches de sons qu'il superpose de manière abstraite. Ainsi, derrière les strates mouvante de blizzard électrique (et électronique) de Vanishing Point, généré par un synthétiseur et un ordinateur, l'auditeur attentif discernera de subtile harmonies, tantôt douces et apaisantes, tantôt inquiétante et lointaine, comme un paysage gelé entraperçu à travers une fine couche de glace. C'est justement ce moment où le bruit disparaît - même s'il est toujours présent en résonance - pour faire place à la mélodie fantôme cachée derrière le mur de bruit blanc, qui rend le mieux hommage à sa soeur disparue. Entre émotion et abstraction formelle, Vanishing Point s'avère une œuvre extrêmement contemporaine, à la fois touchante et esthétiquement pertinente. Un très bel hommage. -- Maxence
Issue 63, August 2009
Vordergründig ein mikrotonales Brausen, eine dröhnminimalistische Dreiviertelstunde am Stück, eine Klangverwirbelung aus Myriaden von Partikeln. Untergründig jedoch werden die noch hörbaren Pitches einer Cymbal und Rotorengewummer. Und hintergründig läuft ein noch dunklerer Film. Kahn schreibt, dass in Gedanken an seine verstorbene Tochter Louise war. Das Verschwinden, der Punkt Omega, dem dieser Klang sich entgegemschraubt, ist also ein denkbar presönlicher und schmerzlicher. Nicht so direkt wie bei Ohne Titel 1916, den Kindertotenlidern ohne Worte, die Enrico Wuttke aka Film seiner verstorbenen Tochter Fanny widmete. Aber das Grübeln über das Wohin und Danach liegt noch zwei Jahre später als Schatten auf diesem Schleier aus feinen Geräuschen, die im Volumen immer mehr abnehmen, jetzt nur noch bitzeln wie elektrische Störfünkelschen und ganz, ganz allmählich unter die Hörschwelle versinken.
An artist mostly renowned for the restrained tones of his music, Jason Kahn is also able to introduce those nearly imperceptible gradations in situations where overshadowing heaps of sonic layers determine the practical impossibility of looking for alternative courses of analysis for those who listen. Vanishing Point is a proposition generated by the combination of live and studio materials in which we individuate three different phases, initially characterized by the virtual absence of Kahn's exemplarily elusive nuances and intangible decays. The opening is in fact an abrupt in-your-face declaration of discomfort, a wall of coarse noise and short waves that only after a while allows to spot something under the blur, the percussive arsenal gradually finding its way towards the midpoint of our consideration. Circa 18 minutes in, this somewhat aggressive avalanche disappears to reveal more of the structures created by the composer, mainly via rolling/roaring drums and cymbals together with lots of supplementary insertions, whose intimidating escalation continues for protracted periods of uneasiness. In certain circumstances one thinks of Jon Mueller, if just for short glimpses.
Yet it's exactly in this instant that we realize about the staying supremacy and, to some extent, reassuring stability of this accumulation, as the auricular membranes start recognizing a basic code of vibration which permits the acceptance of this controlled brutality in the same manner in which people living in industrial areas become used to the constant din and feel at home in it. The difference lies in the application of hardly measurable shades in the encircling buzzing energy - which is precisely what identifies the composition, attributing a harmonic cryptogram of sorts to what untutored ears might judge as sheer racket. The third and last phase determines the conclusion of the process, the transition from potential confusion to the discernment of weak colours and alterations which were practically impossible to perceive at first. The continuous stifled resonance of a tuned drum, easily mistakable for a gong, accompanies the gradual morphing of the piece into pseudo-quietness during the final stages.
Throughout the conception of this work Kahn thought deeply of his daughter Louise, whose death due to SIDS, at 3 months of age, had occurred not long before. Naturally, the concept of vanishing became extremely important in regard to that sad circumstance. Nevertheless what I see represented almost graphically is the symbolization of the ascension to a superior level, the passage from the infected reality of earthly life to the state of completely uncontaminated being, leaving corporeal impediments behind. Not a disappearance, then: a transformation. An intense, strong set confirming Kahn among the mainstays in the lands of non-generic artistic expression, Vanishing Point is informed by a sense of responsive acuity and insightful propensity to the emotional expansion of physical phenomena. -- Massimo Ricci
A 47-minute elegy to his daughter, who passed away two years before work began on the record, this disc offers a slow and meditative take on electronic composition. Combining field recordings with metallic vibrations, static hum and pure noise elements, Kahn is able to do a lot with what appears to be very little, conducting his own orchestra of sound in a piece whose emotional impact is garnered from its barren makeup.
When I say barren though, I certainly mean barren. The work is so slow to evolve in fact that many moments are only decipherable as different upon clicking through the piece's timetable. With this kind of cautious construction, layering the equivalent of vacuum cleaner air drawing upon airplane cabin engine noise, the work evolves slowly enough so as to take its virtually its entire length to entangling itself of each distinct moment. When distant scratches come through amidst the hiss around minute 13 it is nearly revelatory, being the most distinguishable sound yet presented. A soft hum around the 17 minute mark grounds it somewhat, imbuing it with a distinct direction for the first time, though that direction is surely a circuitous one not so much bent on arriving anywhere so much as one settling in to the old mental garden. Yet the changes do happen, and the patience with which they do so rewards a concerted listening effort. Metal-on-metal clatter subsides in the mix almost half of the way through the work's length, sounding like a mini Gamelan orchestra playing from inside a wind turbine. Volumes are delicately adjusted, allowing details to come to the fore that, whether always present back there or not, feel to be coming from the same organism, drawing itself out through the most minute adjustments in color.
There is a sense of urgency in the latter half of the work, if only in contrast to the first half. It becomes less static and busier, with sounds rebounding around the space and jumping out from the singular static that started the work. Still, the consistency of sounds being as they are, the result is not so much busily seeking anything as it is teeming beneath its own weight, its super-heated molecules bouncing together without losing the general forms they inhabit. It isn't until about half an hour into the piece that snippets of a discreet melody appear, though these too are so fractured as to become part of the general landscape, tickling the outer reaches of the hum with brief splashes of color. These flurries of notes not only tie the piece inward, setting the outer boundaries of the hiss buildup, but they also signal the piece's movement toward a more mechanistic and gestural sound for a time, one that has momentary flashes of a daily movement removed from the ethereal space of the work as a whole. The final ten minutes find the work slipping back to its origins, decomposing until it is only the crackle of burning wax and a gentle airy breath of tone. Dense though it may be, the work is quite well situated and wisely done, uncompromising in its enactment without lacking beauty or finesse. There is likely no knowing just how this recording relates to its subject matter—certainly it is not in any linear manner representative of it—but there can be no doubt that this is a highly personal and well phrased statement from a musician with his ears on a singular form of sound composition. -- Henry Smith
Vanishing Point can't help but be imbued with some degree of poignancy given that Jason Kahn dedicated it to his daughter, Louise, who died shortly before the American sound-artist began working on the piece in 2007. The single-track, forty-seven-minute composition opens at full throttle with the agitated churn of a dense mass of prickly static, at the center of which ghostly tones emerge, faintly audible against the thick noise cluster Kahn generates from unidentified sources (in his work, he draws upon a range of sound sources, including machinery, field recordings, percussion, synthesizer, metals). The tones valorously persist despite being progressively overwhelmed by the swelling intensity of the seething mass (imagine amplified recordings of roaring factory machinery, a hornet's nest, and cymbal patterns multiplied and merged). Eventually underground shudders violently wobbling like an out-of-control washing machine fight their way to the surface of the now-rumbling mass. A noticeable diminishment sets in at the half-hour mark as Kahn incrementally strips back the layers until little more than a crackling shell remains, much like a campfire slowly dying out. It's here that the work's title is most strongly felt, with the sound materials gradually disappearing into a distant point on the horizon. Kahn's work invites the label "noise artist" but he's no Merzbow: Vanishing Point is "noise" of a gentler sort that eschews abrasiveness for a more restrained approach that's easy on the ears. There are no pain-inducing ruptures, blasts, or squeals but instead an oceanic and even-keeled sound mass that—even at its most intense—is almost soothing.
Confronté à la mort de sa fille en 2007, le compositeur américain Jason Kahn a mis deux ans à enregister Vanishing Point, comme un exorcisme par rapport à sa disparition. Album de l'absence, de la perte, Vanishing Point se concentre sur la captation des sons des machines du quotidien, et du moment o ces sous s'évanouissent, disparaissent dans un éther vibratile. Tout en finesse et en retenue, évitant le pathos facile, Kahn développe des fréquences apparentées aux bruits blancs, rose, brun ou bleu et les fait évoluer et muter avec une lenteur savamment calculée, et parvient même à glisser des bribes d'une mélodie légère. Profondément méditatif, Vanishing Point nécessite une immersion totale, un bain de sons complet pour être pleinement apprécié, et il prend là, dans sa globalité, toute sa force, tant on a l'impression de se trouver hors du temps et du monde, littéralement absorbé dans le son (une sensation proche de celle que l'on peut éprouver devant les grand monochomes d'Yves Klein) jusqu'à ce que lui-même, arrivé à la fin logique de sa vie, disparaisse à son tour, nous laissant seul avec un sentiment de perte immense. Splendide! -- Jean-François Micard
A 47-minute work consisting of static noise, vibrating surfaces (metal?, cymbals?), and high frequencies whose interactions are carefully arranged in order to disconcert the ear, confuse the rationa brain, and take over the soul. The piece opens with the shocking superimposition of a delicate drone (objects vibrating on a surface – a drum? – set off by sub-bass frequencies) and a raw slab of white noise (don't worry, it's still not Merzbow territory!). As the piece develops, this tension subsides, elements fusing to let something organic emerge. Let's compare this CD to the Goh Lee Kwang CD reviewed yesterday: Vanishing Point is just as abstract, cold, and demanding, but it engages you and moves you, and it doesn't try to eschew your attention. This is true art.
The Sound Projector
Process-minimalism at its finest in the very clean and simple record Vanishing Point from the American musician Jason Kahn; you recall at one stage this innovative creator was thick as thieves with Toshimaru Nakamura, and they performed and recorded as Repeat. This single 47-minute mechanical drone, which appears to explore the inner workings of a metaphysical steam-factory in the sky, can also be read as a very touching and personal meditation on a death in Kahn's family. "I can't say exactly," reveals Kahn with simple honesty in a five-line sleeve note, as (like all serious artists) he treads the fine line between vagueness and clarity of ideas, feeling his way along. -- Ed Pinsent
Although we never use the classical music division between programmatic and absolute music, its good to keep it in mind. Most music in Vital Weekly is absolute, that is music without a theme, dedication but just what it is. Its music without a programm and programmatic music of course has a programm. Music by Jason Kahn is usually absolute, but Vanishing Point is about the death of his daughter in 2007. She vanished at one point out of the lives of her parents, but Kahn also extents the title to the music: its about the vanishing of boundaries between electronic and acoustic sound. Kahn plays cymbals and analogue synthesizer here, and its a top Kahn solo work. The cymbals mingle in a great way with the hissy, white noise textures of the synthesizer. Slowly, peaceful, minimal that builds rather quickly, in the first one-third part of the work and then slowly over the course of the rest slowly fades out, always with small changes in white static noise, small crackles and such like, make this an absolute (forgive the pun) great work. -- Frans De Waard
Crow With No Mouth
Vanishing Point is a mighty cloud at its onset, thickening and layering skeins of agitated cymbals, synth hiss, vaguely aeronautic droneage and a full color spectrum of noises, the principal hues to these ears being white and pink. Drawing this storm down with great patience and nuanced decay, it is startling what occurs with one's sense of time. My analogous experience, at least the chief one musically, would be the suspension of time experienced in Eliane Radigue's best works. Similar to the sound world of Radigue, there is the illusion of little development for vast stretches of time, a sense that the music is without momentum, advancement or event. This is quickly dispelled with a few repeat listens, by which you realize how unbelievably detailed and eventful Vanishing Point is, how subtly the acoustic and electronic elements are braided and entwined, and how the piece requires every minute of its duration to as subtly advance towards its own subtraction.
The Watchful Ear
Sometimes reading just a few words on a CD sleeve can completely change the way you listen to something. Jason Kahn's new solo release on the 23fivelabel is named Vanishing Point. In one brief line on the inner sleeve Kahn mentions that while making this piece of music he thought a lot of his daughter, who passed away two years ago. The album's title clearly reflects this sad situation, and the structure of the music here, beginning a bristling, detailed flurry of a drone but very very slowly fading away into silence is clearly influenced. I find myself wondering as I sit quietly listening if I would be approaching this music with the same sense of solemnity as I do now had I not read that liner note before putting the disc into the CD player. Would the sounds here carry the same resonance for me if I had no idea of what potentially inspired Kahn to make the music? I'll never know, but certainly as the music plays here for the second time tonight it hangs heavily in the air, and the low hum that pervades the music right now feels ominous and somewhat bleak.
Jason Kahn is an American born ex-percussionist who has lived in Switzerland for a good few years. He has slowly flourished into a distinguished, individual musician that increasingly leans towards solo work. His music over recent years has often explored the architecture of drones, often via processed percussion sounds, often changing only very slowly. Kahn's use of the drone has seen him either greatly admired or routinely dismissed, such is the nature of critical response to someone that dares make music in this manner, particularly if they once played in a more "musical" manner. The fact is however, Kahn is one of the best at what he does. Vanishing Point is often extremely beautiful. It is one of those records that poses the listener/writer a problem. Describing the music's sound is not easy to do without making the disc sound like dozens of other releases. Beginning with a richly textured layering of metallic drones, warm synth-like tones and gritty, grainy textures the pleasure comes from listening vertically down into the music, picking apart the layers in your mind, listening to each carefully as the music slips past. Where Vanishing Point differs to much music of this kind is in its reversed momentum. Over most of the album's forty-seven minutes the music is in a constant state of decay, very gradually decomposing, drifting from strong continual sounds through to flickering crackles, reducing in density and volume as it progresses. The music obviously gradually approaches its vanishing point, and the poignant and subtle way it goes about this is obviously highly charged in light of what the liner notes reveal to us.
I'd like to think that if I had not read the liner note, I would be able to recognise the sense of poise and elegant sadness that lives and breathes through this release. Of course, I couldn't ever guess the exact loss felt by Kahn, but surely the intensity and mood of the piece would have come across to me directly? I have no way of knowing for sure but I suspect the sense of gravity pulling down hard on this music would not have been lost on me. As I type I have started the disc for the third time this evening, playing loud, filling the room. the experience is not at all unlike that which I have often felt sat in the Tate Modern's Rothko room, with one of the huge canvasses hanging over me, filling the space, wrapping its dark mood around me, pulling me into the painting. As it begins the music is filled with a rich strata of distressed metals, layer upon layer of groaning bass tones and skittery, prickly percussion, all blended together into one close to smooth detritus layer that really needs to be listened to closely. As i have said, the music then progressively falls apart, but never dramatically, only very slowly, so that often you don't notice when persistent layers have suddenly disappeared. Like stripping back the layers of polish and veneer covering a finely grained piece of furniture more seems to be revealed as there is less to actually listen to.
Vanishing Point is clearly a very personal work that has been developed slowly over considerable time and has been influenced by all of the music Kahn made prior to it. Listening to the music played quite loud has quite an impact on this listener, weighing heavily down on the shoulders, feeling like the low air pressure that appears just before a big storm. In many ways it is the reverse of your average piece of noise music, tearing itself slowly apart rather than building to a detailed apex. Vanishing Point is easily the strongest piece of work I have heard so far from Jason Kahn, and will be one I return to on those dark wintery nights when the fragility of human existence comes into question. Powerful stuff. -- Richard Pinell