30/36: Reviews and Quotes
KEVIN KASTNING: 30/36
Out of 36 albums, this is only Kastning's 5th solo album. Do you think he
cared what kind of marks he got in grade school for works and plays well with
others? Whether alone or in groupings, he never fails to create mystic worlds
that ride the lines between new age, prog, contemporary classical and what ever
passing fancies might ride by. An intricate and ear opening work of great
invention, this string wizard shows more imagination that a fleet of Disney
artists. Killer stuff for the intense guitar fan that really wants to be taken
away to far off places.
Record webzine (US)
KEVIN KASTNING – 30/36
Ethereal if muscular, renown guitarist’s new acoustic trip results in punchy gratification.
Following in the wake of Kevin Kastning’s music is akin to stepping behind the Pied Piper without knowing his destination, but it’s difficult not to think at some point whether the artist himself knows the final point of this journey, because he’s led by instruments, rather than other way around, and relies on his instincts, rather than solid plan. Intrigue serves KK well, though, and continuing the approach applied to "17/66" – the American’s previous solo effort, released earlier in the year – he splits the “66” into original fractions, 30-string contra-alto guitar and 36-string double contraguitar, and combines them to a great effect.
KK’s attacking these strings in “Wotruba I” with quite an unexpected force ` leaves long, pregnant pauses between short series of notes to conjure majestic tension before dissolving it in a delicate, if deceptively dissonant, Renaissance-styled tune and then snapping the piece’s scope back to a ripple. Just as unpredictably, “Bahuya I” has bluesy eeriness to the strum that may seem static until slight variations develop a melody – clear in a folksy way and welcoming, too – only to assault the fretboard one more time.
If focus feels somewhat lost in larger numbers such as “Bahuya II” whose parts are stitched together in a sort of haphazard fashion, it’s only because more time is needed to assess a full picture KK is painting here. Still, there’s a lot of wonder in “Wotruba II” where intensely woven quasi-traditional motifs conspire to create an enchanting soundscape, for this dynamic space to be inhabited by “Malleus Anguli” and tenderly hammered into angular shapes with the cut’s two parts.
But while “Wotruba III” is a trip into non-surf-like twang and emotional thrash, “Aequus Nox I” – another diptych on the loosely concept album – fares as nocturnal as its title suggests, and also infernal. These fire and darkness are essential to the master’s method: which is why following in the wake of his music can’t be more exciting.
-- Let it
Rock webzine (CANADA)
Kevin Kastning — 30/36
(Greydisc GDR 3546, 2018, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-01-25
"This is Kevin Kastning solo. Alone, sparse, wandering, introspective and meditative, playing either his 30-string contra-alto guitar, or his 36-string double Contraguitar. This marks his fifth completely solo effort among 33 solo and collaborations on Greydisc records. Some may wonder why Kastning releases so many discs, but if the ideas are there along with the feeling inside, the muse must be shared, and given that what he produces is so unique, a product of his own soundworld with his numerous custom and completely unusual sounding stringed instruments, there is certainly none other like him. A true original. With 30/36, many of the pieces here are short suites that go through a number of ideas before they conclude; they tend to be a bit longer than most of his compositions, many in the six to ten minute range, evoking a range of different feelings as they wander through a number of phases, much like fragments of dreams with hidden portals that the listener crosses as they find their way to and through the next hidden step. Every piece is somewhat reflective and provides a solitary and peaceful space for the imagination to grow freely. “Bahuya II” begins with a four note descending melody repeated only a few times before it begins to morph and wander into spaces completely unlike where it began, all the time emphasizing the importance of space between notes, allowing the listener openings where the notes in play can be processed. “Wotruba II” follows it, offering a more dense playground over a fully panoramic spectrum, with numerous layers of ever-shifting dynamics and reclusive strands of compelling dissonance. The album closer “Aequus Nox II” is another where silence and spaces are are as powerful as the notes and structures that separate them. All nine tracks on 30/36 taken together make for one powerful and epic mind journey."
-- Exposé Magazine (US)
"30/36 is very cool: just enough implied harmonic and melodic
structure to be meaningfully deconstructed by percussive stringing. Let the
sonic shards fall where they may, eh?"
-- Will Clipman
Percussionist and 7-time Grammy Award nominee (US)