Jonas Munk: Absorb/Fabric/Cascade
El Paraiso Records

Absorb/Fabric/Cascade is not the Jonas Munk of the firebrand instrumental outfit Causi Sui, nor is it the Jonas Munk of the long-standing solo ambient project Manual. Instead, Absorb/Fabric/Cascade presents a less documented side of the Danish guitarist/producer, specifically one reflecting the influence of forebears like Terry Riley and Popul Vuh. De-emphasizing guitar, the material focuses on minimalism-styled explorations featuring vintage synthesizers, organ, piano, and analog electronics. Though Munk's discography might have swelled to eyebrow-raising proportions, the thirty-eight-minute recording, issued as a download as well as a twelve-inch orange vinyl release in 500 copies, is only his second solo album released under his birth name, with the first, Pan, having appeared in 2012.

Absorb/Fabric/Cascade features three engrossing, pattern music-styled pieces, none less than ten minutes in length, and thus splits itself comfortably into two vinyl sides. The A-side's “Absorb” is set in motion by burbling keyboard patterns that grow in complexity as Munk weaves multiple layers into position. Though echoes of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians emerge in the music's rhythmic pulsations, “Absorb” is no one-dimensional retread. While it indirectly draws upon the legacy of the classical minimalists, Munk's piece also works into its arrangement electronic treatments of the kind one would more associate with kosmische musik explorers. The balance constantly shifts between the two poles, with at certain moments the motorik core blanketed in a fuzzy glow of white noise, until the rhythmic elements fade out entirely and cede the stage to delicate swaths of synth washes and pastoral detail.

The second side's pieces are more subdued than the first's. “Fabric” inaugurates the side on a thoroughly stripped-down note, opening as it does with the repetition of two identical organ lines played against each other. Yet while such an intro might recall Reich's Four Organs in general idea, “Fabric,” like “Absorb,” quickly develops into something other than homage or replication. Munk's interlocking keyboard patterns gradually de-emphasize metronomic design for a style that's more free-flowing and blissed-out, psychedelic even. Even more apparently minimalistic is “Cascade,” which begins with simple synth phrases of the kind one might hear on an Eno ambient recording. While the music breathes gently, its peaceful tone strengthened by the slow-motion pace of its presentation, Munk effects a transformation halfway through that sees the material build into a churning, high-intensity flow of synthesizer pulsations.

Munk brings a fastidious degree of attention to whatever project he's working on, and Absorb/Fabric/Cascade is no different in that regard. It might not be the most representative recording as far as his overall output is concerned, but it's a high-quality outing that successfully applies his powers of artistic expression to previously unexplored territory.

March 2015