K. Leimer: Day Music | 1
K. Leimer: Permissions
These are exceptionally prolific days for Kerry Leimer: not only has he just issued an encompassing collection of short pieces under the title Permissions but also is in the process of releasing six separate Day Music releases. The unusual latter set, two of which have been issued as of this writing (the first involving “intervals for piano and decay” and the second “intervals for electronic sources”), present variations on a common theme: they're installation-like ambient meditations, each designed to establish an aural environment and available in a four-hour (yes, four) version or in a more easily digestible seventy-two-minute form.
The first of the six “epicyclic” pieces exemplifies qualities—stasis and development in equal measure foremost among them—that one presumes will characterize the series as a whole. With pregnant pauses separating them generously from one another, piano notes of varying pitch resonate loudly while a crystalline tonal mass shimmers uninterruptedly in the background. A call-and-response pattern suggests itself in the way monotone clicks appear in conjunction with the piano, a move that creates the illusion that one is a generative response to the other. There is ongoing evolution, true, but it's of a kind that feels cyclical, as if a modest number of electro-acoustic materials are repeating themselves with ever-so-subtle variations. At first, there appears to be little narrative arc to speak of—no build-up, climax, or dénouement—and instead a steady and unwavering flow (though the interjection of vibes-like accents just past the half-way mark does come as a jolt), but a subtle change emerges near the forty-seven-minute mark when the faint glimmer of twilight tones signals a transition into an overall more subdued and fragile presentation; though the piano playing at this juncture grows a tad denser, it too begins to fade until only the smallest threads of music remain. In the past, we've described Leimer's music as time-suspending, and it hardly surprises that the Day Music concept pushes the idea to a new extreme; even the shorter version lulls the listener into a state of reverie that grows deeper the longer the material plays. Consistent with the installation-like design, Leimer conceived of the pieces as material that could be played either singly, or in layered (the same setting multiplied) or combined (multiple pieces played simultaneously) manner.
By comparison, Permissions is a bit more conventional in its structural design as its seventy minutes features sixteen settings (ranging from two to seven minutes). In addition, though Leimer composed all of the material and is credited with digital synthesis and signal processing, the recording appears to be somewhat of a collaboration with Taylor Deupree, given that the 12k head is credited with “additional voices, post-production, edit, mix, and mastering.” The detail isn't insignificant, either, as Permissions largely collapses whatever stylistic differences might normally separate 12k and Palace of Lights recordings. Arranged into concise song-like structures, the material exemplifies the concentration on fluttering micro-sound textures, electro-acoustic sounds (acoustic guitar plucks, electric guitar shadings, processed piano, bowed strings, percussion), and field recordings that's shared by the two creators and often captured on a typical 12k release. Listed sans titles on the CD cover as simply Permissions 01-16, the settings function like snapshots that cumulatively provide an in-depth portrait of Leimer's range. The mood is generally laid-back, meditative, and explorative (mysterioso in the piano-heavy sixth), but the elements drawn upon are not only pastoral in nature as industrial sounds surface, too, as part of the overall sound design. Despite their brevity, the pieces are often striking, such as the fourteenth, which gracefully augments a series of percussion accents with a rising ambient wave, and the sixteenth, which finds minute guitar plucks resonating against a crackling mass. Though Day Music and Permissions are two markedly different recordings from Leimer, both projects are effective in offering compelling documents of his artistry.