Music Reviews

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Title: Breathings
Format: CD
Label: Cut
Rated: *****
Cut founder and renowned laptop/percussion improviser Jason Kahn here teams up with Buenos Aires-based composer and pianist Gabriel Paiuk for one of the best improv records I've listened to in a long time. It's almost hard to believe this was recorded in a single afternoon in Paiuk's house in November, 2004, given the intensity and the balance of its sounds. Kahn mostly works with high-end digital crackles, minimal feedback effects and subtle electronic drones, while Paiuk improvises at the piano, alternating between sparse notes and - my guess - chord plucking, scrapings and other instrument-played-as-an-object tecniques. What amazes is the perfect interaction between the two, and the stark beauty of these nine untitled fragments. Skillfully dosing pauses and constrained eruptions, but never really reaching full-on noise, Kahn and Paiuk create a work of apparent stasis where the underlying tension is at times almost unbearable, sensing it will never explode. "Breathings" has often reminded me of Rowe's and Tilbury's masterpiece "Duos for Doris" (especially its first minutes), which is also not that unsound given that Paiuk has played with the former. Improvised music at its best: both harsh and extremely refined, with an enviable taste for the choice and dosing of its sound events.

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