KILN: Thermals

KILN's Thermals isn't a rushed sequel to last year's Dusker but rather “sonic-carousels, tonesheets, loopstrata, and slo-wave microsymphonies” created between 1993 and 2000 (and originally issued in 2001 in an edition of 100). Furthermore, an inner sleeve detail clarifies that most pieces were “rescued from quarter-inch tape obscurity via hard-disk editing and digital-audio restoration software.” And how fortunate we are that such a rescue operation happened, for the re-issued Thermals features a bounty of beautiful miniatures (twenty-three, to be precise), almost every one of which checks in at about two minutes in length. This is a radically different-sounding KILN than the expansive and robust outfit heard on Dusker; Thermals is a more reserved and austere collection that in its evocative ambient character reminds one of Eno's Music For Films.

KILN's vignettes opt for meditative stillness rather than narrative exposition, and, untethered by rhythms and beats, Thermals parades one beatific reverie after another, with each briefly take the stage and then quickly yielding it to the next over a fifty-five-minute span. Despite their brevity, many pieces are haunting, including the luminous “Charms of Beautiful Natural Girls” and “Universalfemalebreathchoir” whose exhalations evoke cloudy breath patterns forming on glass. “The Ice Floes” is as hushed as a muffled choir of Gregorian chanters perfecting a labyrinthine melody while “Crackling Theatre Walls” features see-sawing strings and crackle that escaped from either a silent film cinema or Philip Jeck's laboratory. The album also includes vaporous dronescapes (“ A Place in Between”), shimmering holograms (“Drala,” “Pureloveplate”), and iridescent meander (“Compassion”). Though individual pieces leave impressions, Thermals' ethereal communications make their strongest impression when experienced en masse. When one factors Sunbox, Twinewheel, and Holo [re/lux] into the equation, it's clear that KILN is slowly building up an amazing body of work that's free of missteps or filler.

April 2008