Jason Kahn and Jon Mueller: Phase
Flingco Sound System

Phase finds sonic architects Jason Kahn and Jon Mueller collaborating on a long-form dronescape created from live recordings collected during a US tour by the duo (Kahn shaped the source materials into the recording's final form). So what's it sound like? Well, the pulsating rhythm base that gets the piece moving could conceivably come from a churning factory machine or even dishwasher, while the reverberant sheets that stretch out over top, swell in volume (so much so that the pulsating rhythm is rendered inaudible), and phase in and out of one another sound like processed gong strikes. Kahn is credited with contributing analog synthesizer and acoustic percussion to the sound mass, while Mueller is credited with gongs, acoustic percussion, and recordings (gong recordings, it's clarified elsewhere). Not that such details matter a whole lot once the materials are blended into the torrential mass that roars for thirty-nine minutes. But don't get the wrong idea: in no way is this a ‘noise' recording. Kahn and Mueller shape the sound with great care and control so that the escalation in volume and intensity occurs incrementally and, though it works itself up to a ferocious pitch, at no time does the material turn brutalizing or painful. To maximize the experience, the listener should turn up the volume and imagine him/herself at the center of the vortex—something that's easier to do than it might sound when the material fills the space so completely. Decompression starts to set in at the half-hour mark, and the piece undergoes a slow descent until it reaches its peaceful resolution. Adding a new wrinkle to the presentation of its releases, FSS is making Phase available as a stand-alone digital album or as part of a unique set of four silk-screened prints created by Jason Kahn; 300 of such sets are available, with each including a download code for the recording.

April 2010