A Second Conversation
Interview, Part 2 by Mark S. Tucker
"I should mention a few things somewhat briefly. This is
certainly as much Kevin's interview as mine, we both worked long and hard at it
(and much thanks go to Jason Gross for so readily allowing our prolixity). In
fact, at some point, we simultaneously realized it was turning into a partial
seminar in aesthetics. I will not apologize for the length as I feel the
American public needs this sort of exercise, and indeed, within the PSF and
wider readership, there are those who will immediately appreciate the depth of
exploration. More, that depth is why I undertook this at all. In the last few
years, I had somewhat given up the colloquy aspect of writing; for me
personally, interviews are just too much work, requiring far more in re-listens,
ponderings, the process of shaping worthwhile questions, and then a lot of
editing- far more of everything than is evident in the reading of the completed
product. However, over the extent of reviewing Kevin's work for X number of
years (hey, my memory sucks lately, and I'm practically innumerate, so
reminiscence and time-numbers don't mix for me) and a number of private
e-conversations, I came to appreciate not only his unique and masterful style in
music-making but also an exceedingly incisive mind, a rare thing.
Kevin makes a number of intriguing assertions and opinionations here, as do I (my wont) and he could easily be a prime critic of a stripe almost absent in America (far more prevalent in Europe) should he choose to do so. In the course of what you're about to read, this became yet another verification that I had made an unusually good choice. Only this interview and the one I conducted with Copernicus, available for perusal in the PSF archives, have been this absorbing. I suspect more than one controversy will arise from our exchange, and I couldn't be more pleased.
As those who follow my work already understand, I am not in this game for either money (please ignore the gales of laughter you may now hear in the distance, all from crits who know precisely what I mean) or to satisfy anyone but those who enjoy the life of the mind. My intent is to help resuscitate and further the almost dead art of criticism and discourse, and in that, I must have a worthy counterpart lest a joining of the ranks with too many of my "brother" crits and with equally imbecilic artists - whom I otherwise frequently, nastily, and sardonically deride - occur (shudder!).
This present discourse has forced me to re-examine more than one personal tenet. While I may not harmonize entirely with Kevin, and he not always with me, his appraisals are thoughtful, forceful, and backed by immense insight into the mechanics of his art, much more so than I can even begin to muster. The analysis he offers is compelling as I encourage interviewees to speak frankly and not concern themselves with whatever I or anyone may or may not think, and the blend of the two has resulted in many engaging and singular revelations, gestures, and evidences of provocative ideation that will extend to the reader. This, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what informs me that my earlier tendency to want to eschew the interview process was premature; there is much still to warrant the toil when it results in this level of outcome. That is to say: I am delighted with and gratified by this encounter. My only regret is that we did not have the space to continue ever more dialectically into aesthetics... but that would have forced us to pen an entire book.
So then, please look upon our meeting of the minds as a Socratic form of chamber recital, if you will, and join in from your armchair where you feel it appropriate. You will be welcomed."
PSF: I was intrigued by the compositional experiments noted in
the "String Quartet No. 5" work in transposing harmony and melody against and
into each other. This notion of the interleaving of strands is very much like
Michio Kaku's string theory: everything being woven while remaining distinct and
separate. What antecedents, what roots, are you using in this technique, and
what structures are you reaching for?
KK: The antecedents originated in some of my previous compositions. A vertical overlay and intertwining of polyrhythmic textures is something I'd used in the past, but not to the extent of the fifth string quartet. I had envisioned something like a rope, a twisting and interwinding of both and of simultaneous singular and multiple strands, a polyrhythmic density stacked and layered to the point that it produces its own harmonic density. I had been carrying this around with me for a long time. I think bits of it escaped in previous pieces, but not to this extent. The structures for which I was reaching were a kind of density akin to... well... in the manner of the construction of chords, I was hearing something equating that, but instead of single notes as vertical chord and harmonic components, I was hearing differing tuplet-based rhythmic structures as the vertical building blocks. In previous compositions, it peeked out a little here and there. In the fifth quartet, it became the structure itself. It is possible that it originated in another way, or was subliminally planted. One day in winter, I was out driving near where I live, which is a very forested and hilly area. There was snow on the ground, and, with this white background, the trees stood out in sharp contrasting detail like a black and white photograph. As I was driving through this, I glanced out the left window and saw the trees whizzing by in blurred smeared detail. As this was a fairly dense forest, some of the trees were closer, some were further back, so there was a kind of 3-D effect of closer trees/distant trees. My first thought was "Where have I heard this before?." Then I thought that this was an odd reflex to a visual scene, but I could indeed hear something. A couple of seconds later, a snippet of the fifth quartet popped into my head: the polyrhythmic, or perhaps I should say, the polytonality of the layered tuplet rhythms sounded exactly like those trees looked. Thus the fifth quartet could have had a subconscious genesis vis a vis driving through forested New England roads.
PSF: You've said that the recording process happens pretty much in a day. What do you and Sandor (Szabo, guitarist) start out with - brief sketches? A set of chord changes? Perhaps a few tightly scripted passages? And, percentage-wise, how large a part does pure improv play?
KK: With Sandor, it is a single day. We've done seven complete albums that way so far. With (guitarist) Siegfried, it can be several months. I've been working on some solo recordings, and that has its own pace. The process with Sandor on the first album involved, at first, small sketches, mere germs of ideas, a hint of a suggestion. It can be a verbal description, a declaration of meter, an assignment of register, a determination as to whom begins a piece and how; it can be all, some, or none of those. Sandor and I don't have a formula, we just have a soul connection, many influences in common and matching end points in mind. Pure improvisation plays a tremendous part. On every record, there are entire pieces which are improvisations in their entirety. However, I don't like to think of it as improvisation. I think a more accurate term of what I do is real-time composition. All composed, written, scored compositions were at one time improvisations. Written compositions are little more than frozen improvisation. Think of it in this context as improvisations which have been frozen at a moment in time and space. Sandor and I are composing, but to tape instead of score paper, in real-time instead of editing and erasing, refining and perfecting with a pencil over an infinite period... though I certainly do plenty of that, too, it just doesn't take place in the studio.
My work with British electric guitarist Mark Wingfield has taken on a similar flow. Mark and I recorded material for three albums over the course of two days in the studio in November 2010. Our first album together will be released in spring 2011. We approached our work together much like I do with Sandor. A brief discussion would transpire prior to rolling tape, and the result is the performance you'll hear on the record. This album will be pretty different from anything either Mark or I have ever done, and we're both rather excited about it.
PSF: Yeah, since you were kind enough to cut me a pre-release rough, I have to say it's great stuff, another step forward in expanding your horizons. Wingfield blends a lot of influences - esp. Metheny, early Frisell, Rypdal, Abercrombie - into his own vocabulary and demonstrates masterly discretion in all the weird and cool slurs, trills, and bric-a-brac he peppers his part of the "conversation" with. I was also a bit surprised at your movements behind him in various places and then the exchange of front and backing roles all through the release... similar to but very different from your work with all the others. How did it feel to be committed to that kind of electric environment, something you normally eschew? What did you discover as it progressed? There's a definite feel of shift of perspective.
KK: Thank you, and I daresay a shift of perspective is correct. I don't hear the exchanges in terms of front to back; in fact, I'm not sure I hear the parts as exchanges at all. I hear them as equal and side-by-side, even though I can fully understand a front-to-back perspective on these works. The recording sessions were pretty intense. Two very full and long days. During the sessions, I was only focused on the pieces, letting them organically form and come to life. I mean, that's my usual approach, but simultaneously I can tell if what's being created and tracked is strong, if it's headed in the direction of a record and that kind of sensing. However, during the sessions with Mark, I didn't have that sense. I think I was so focused on what was transpiring that I didn't know what we had. I remember during a break on the second day, late at night, I even asked Mark if he thought what we were doing was anything usable. He said yes, but I just couldn't tell; I thought what I was doing was horrible. I loved what he was doing, though. It wasn't until several weeks later, when I heard a few of the rough mixes, that I realized what we had done. Oddly enough, I didn't feel it as an electric environment as opposed to an acoustic environment. It was just creating, composing in real-time, very different to me in that there were various new situations during the sessions; hence the shift in perspective. But the electric-vs.-acoustic environment wasn't one of them.
PSF: What were the changes?
KK: This was the first recording session with the 14-string Contraguitar. I had recorded a couple of quick solo pieces with it, but nothing in an actual recording or performance situation such as with Mark. At the time of the tracking sessions, I'd had it for less than two months, so I was just starting to learn it, really. I also played classical guitar on a few pieces with Mark; I'd not done that on other records. And I used some new percussive and tapping techniques on which I'd been working, so some new paths for me there, and you sensed it by saying a shift of perspective, which it certainly was. I am excited about our work together, and this album will be the first in a series for us.
PSF: Your choice of label is appropriate (Greydisc), as your work is often Rouaultian in its hues, but you've mentioned Pollock as one of your influences graphically. I also envision Tanguy, Klee, certainly Greco's View of Toledo, and the like. In fact, one easily envisions Roualtian denizens in your Greco-Toledo environments, but what images are you seeing as you write and play? And what images are you creating? Listener and player mind-theaters often differ on the same works, and it might be intriguing to note here how closely or widely the tableaux match.
KK: Yes! The sky in Greco's Toledo! Can you not hear that sky just by looking at it? And that is a very interesting comparison to Rouault. I can understand your hearing those thick dark textures in there. It's less that I am envisioning these visual works when playing or composing; I tend to hear them when I see them. I have stood in front of some late-period Pollocks for what seemed like hours and just listened. Same for Rothko, some of the less representational and more of the abstract expressionist pieces of De Kooning, and Kandinsky sometimes. Different visual and aural textures to be sure, but equally strong and utterly palpable with aural tangibility. Architecturally, I have gotten something very similar from Gehry, Calatrava, and even elements from Gothic cathedral architecture, elements like the flying buttress and the percentage of window versus wall area, or the cathedral at Reims, which has double-span flying buttresses. I wonder how this same concept would be expressed in music. What is the compositional equivalent? How does it translate? How does a work of art in a non-music medium translate over and into music? What is that process? What is the resultant linear structure, form, harmonic structure?
PSF: I'm glad you mentioned Gehry. I only recently got into his work. Marvelous stuff. He reminds me of [James] Hubbell [mentioned in Part 1 of this interview]. In such people, I can see the mindset resemblances between work such as yours and theirs, endeavors abandoning parameters of thought that do not recognize boundaries but usher in whatever creates the art, but what has been the history of your reception in the consumer/appreciator environment for indulging purely artistic means and ends?
KK: Yeah, I am a huge fan of Gehry. I go see his buildings whenever I can. I view his buildings as living sculptures. A good friend of mine used to work with him, and, a few years ago while visiting in California, I got a tour of Gehry's offices. Really amazing! What a treat that was. To define our terms, you're referring to two separate and perhaps disparate entities when you say consumer and appreciator environments. In the consumer environment, it varies by country. On the European tour last year, I was constantly amazed at the people I'd meet who brought copies of my albums for me to sign, and even people that told me they had all my albums. In the U.S., I don't see that quite as much, but I suspect art holds a more sacred position on the list of priorities and life in Europe. There's centuries more of this heritage and value system instilled there, and it shows. Art is more revered there, and there's less of the hollow and sacrilegious sense of commercial success which mistakenly equates to successful art such as we see in the U.S.. In the appreciator environment, I am regularly surprised at the emails I receive and what people say to me when I meet them.
I'll share one example with you. Last year, I received a very touching e-mail from a woman in California that told me she had lost her husband to a fatal disease; I believe he was in his mid-40’s. He had passed on about eight months prior to her e-mail. She said that music had always been very important in their life together, but since he had died, she had lost her love of music; in fact, she said she had not been able to listen to it at all since then, there was too much pain of loss wrapped into her experience of music. But then someone had given her one of my CD’s. She said it was the only music she'd able to listen to, and it was the first thing that had given her any sense of comfort or peace since she lost her husband. It took me a couple of weeks to reply to her e-mail; I just did not know what to say. And I have received other e-mails which were very touching and personal. So, to answer your question: I do get these glimpses from time to time wherein people let me know that, yes, it is appreciated.
PSF: Shostakovich sits in your portfolio of reverences, and I find your material not unlike the somber and disconsolate sections of his 14th Symphony. Have you, or you and Sandor, or you and Siegfried, considered working with melismatic vocalists, perhaps even somewhat a la Machaut?
KK: Shostakovich, yes. The opening of the 4th symphony - had I composed only that, I could die happy. The transitional moment around the 0:16 mark where the percussion signals the entrance of the ostinato eighth-note figure in the strings just destroys me, and again around 1:15 where the low brass re-enters. Then the full-on brass chord with percussion at 1:28. And that's just in the first two minutes! My favorite symphonies of his are 4, 8, and 14. 14 just knocks me over. In the second movement, he so entirely and completely exploits the extreme upper violin registers, like the sound is just being ripped from somewhere deep inside the instrument itself. But it's not just sound fabric for the sake of texture or post-modernity, it is a charged emotional excursion; a complete communication. Yet that communication, that message, could only be delivered using the sopranino violin texture as its vehicle. It's brilliant, yet it is just raw feeling.
Yes, I am a total fan of Machaut and another composer who I somehow associate with him in intent and direction: Ciconia, even though Machaut was ars nova and Ciconia was ars subtilor. Regarding vocalists, four or five years ago, I did some recording dates with French artist Laurent Brondel. He is a very interesting person, composes songs which are like 4-minute movies. We have standing plans to work together again in the future. I have not considered working with any other vocalists, but that's not to say I wouldn't if it were the right project.
PSF: Let me for a moment bring in the Eno brothers. Your work is not all that dissimilar, at least in effect, to Brian's quieter ambient constructions while quite reminiscent, in aspect and authority, to Roger's chamber work, though where the latter's is still-life-beautiful, yours is purgatorially vibrant and daunting, beauty of an entirely different order. This bleeds into the Impressionist/Romantic factor in neoclassical work. Brian finds classical music (wryly, it must be noted, especially in view of his attention to Faure on Discreet Music) as dead and obviously you do not, but isn't it true, to wax political for a moment, that much of the elder catalog reeks of class oppression and pandering while the new moves in Carter, Partch, Cage, and others seek to renew the highest strain of transcendent intelligence by taking the core of the hoary elder wont and re-refining it down into the Everyman's rising presence in the world, the unique and unconfined individual no matter where he or she arises? Oh, and to throw a bit more tinder on the fire: Is Brian right? Is classical music dead?
KK: It might seem by stating "re-refining it down into the Everyman's rising presence in the world" that you're referring to minimalism, which could indeed be viewed as a dumbing-down of classical or composed music. I wouldn't think of those terms as applying to Carter, Partch, or Cage! Art moves forward; it lives and breathes and evolves and develops and deepens and expands by forward momentum. Minimalism is not that. Minimalism in music arguably was a reaction to composers such as the Second Viennese School, and their offshoots; for example, Milton Babbitt, rest in peace. The minimalists, and in this group I am not speaking of Arvo Pärt or any members of that school, seemed to be saying, "Modern music is too hard; here's something simple and non-challenging. See how easy it is?" And the artistic-kiss-of-death term gets joyously applied to it and painted with a broad brush: accessible. It's accessible! So it must be good! We no longer have to think about what we're hearing. We're no longer challenged or rewarded or inspired because it's accessible. This would be akin to a group of painters saying that Rothko, DeKooning, Pollock, Francis Bacon, Max Ernst: all too hard. Their art is not accessible. Let's use the label from a soup can as the new art. Sure, it's vapid, but look how accessible! You don't have to think about it. P. T. Barnum once said "If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you. If you really make them think, they'll hate you." Enter minimalism. There are composers who currently walk the Earth that are indeed pushing music forward and expanding the art; I speak now of Elliott Carter. As for Carter, I certainly do not hear his work as being aimed at the Everyman. I hear Elliott remaining true to Elliott, and truth in art will never die. Elliott Carter may well be a genius and visionary, but I doubt that his true impact and value will be realized for a very long time.
I don't see the older catalog of reeking of class oppression or pandering, not at all. Let's apply this argument to any great work of art. Would you point to, let's say, a novel by Emile Zola or Thomas Hardy and say well clearly they were pandering and this work reeks of class oppression? Could one point to a Vermeer, a Fragonard, Freidrich, or Turner painting and say the same? I don't see pre-20th century music as pandering or reeking of class oppression any more than I would authors or painters whom were the peers of these composers. J. S. Bach was employed by the church for almost 30 years, but I don't hear his work as being the domain of the religious any more than I hear Telemann as being in the domain of the cultural elite. Clearly, Haydn was funded by the bourgeoisie, but when you distill what Haydn was saying, it was art. Art knows no class distinction. Art as a product or result of human emotion doesn't understand pandering... unless we're back to minimalism, which I do hear as a kind of pandering, but this is possible because I hear minimalism as completely bereft of any emotional content or seed; however, this is only the opinion of one person. I have full respect for Brian Eno's work and actually enjoy it, but I would have to part company with him on his statement that classical music is dead. It's very much a living organism, one with roots and ancestors time traveling in retrograde over a thousand years. And those same roots stretch beyond us into the future. It is a syzygical relationship: Stravinsky couldn't have been Stravinsky without Gesualdo. There could have been no Schoenberg without Brahms, who took so much from Beethoven, who looked to Haydn, and on and on. There is no delineation of life or death in art, it is all alive. The art of today has everything which preceded it coursing through its veins. That said, classical music could be dead to Brian, as he sees it in the context of his work, and I could see that. But even then, I'd have to ask him the question a second time. I think as long as an entire body of or singular work of art invokes feelings and an emotional response, that body or work of art is not dead but very much alive.
PSF (grinning): Actually, I wasn't thinking about minimalism, though I certainly wasn't about to stop your line of thought, and your answer brings up a wealth of questions re: art qua art, so let's pursue that for a moment or two. Firstly, the term 'minimalist' is pretty bad, almost as impertinent as 'anarchist', which is 100% gawdawful; as a mutant form of anarchist, I have to question the early wisdom of the movement just in that term alone. 'Serial minimal' is a bit better on the musical side, and, in that, the wellsprings are identifiable enough: Glass, Reich, Adams, Nyman, etc.. With them, after all, following on Tom Johnson's coining of the very term 'minimalist,' began a very apprehendable style. Glass, for me, is resplendent, truly magnificent, nonpareil. In fact, I have a serious problem in listening to his work, because, once I start, I want to hear the entire catalogue again - except perhaps the "non-minimalist" oeuvre, the Bowie adaptations, 1000 Airplanes, the more formalist structures, etc., all of which I find puzzling. I think it might be best to go graphic in order to circle this somewhat oblique chain of thought, though.
Let's start with Warhol, whom I blasphemously consider to have been an idiot (hence, Lou Reed's obsession with him), and waltz over to Oldenberg, Christo, etc. Warhol truly dumbed down art to the mental level of the banking establishment that now runs The Art World and pretty much always has. Oldenburg, Rauschenberg, and others trotted in the absurd (leviathan handsaws arching over rivers, etc.), an extension of Dada and its over-ballyhooed icon shattering. Christo just inserted gigantism and tremendously outsized brazenness, and very simplistic uses of them at that. Taking things further, if you combine Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House with his The Painted Word, two landmark critiques that damn the influx of the dollar and the businessman, the game is seen... and this is where I think Eno is indeed referring to class oppression and its deadly aftereffects, even if Brian doesn't realize it underneath his own rhetoric. The classical canon is choked out with patronage, blue bloodery, and the effete pseudo-refinements of the bourgeoisie, fey and palsied mirror-gazing to the Nth egoistic degree. I'll leave aside the indomitable genius of Bach and Beethoven, whom I aver are gods because of their mind-blowing transfusions away from the deathly estate of nobility and clergy and toward the fertile synergy of more protean non-class-restricted consciousness. I'll instead point to Machaut and Mozart, infantes terrible and decidedly held in disfavor by patrons for their much more groundling beingnesses inside and outside art, their presumption to question class as Thackery did. Genius saved them while endearing them to the peasants, but...
The tricky part is that the old nobility was well educated and fairly creative - dauntingly so in figures like Bacon, DeVere, etc. - which flowed down to the proletariat which aped it in the sort of, for instance, conversational street repartee almost impossible to find anywhere today, especially the United States. Where Salieri was a courtier, Mozart could care less about The Order Of Things except to achieve his ends, not the gentry's. Where Salieri addressed the oh-so-refined world of money, title, and privilege - which Thomas Hardy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and others would later skewer, battling the monolith and, as you infer, clearly not pandering; I maintain they were plainly addressing class oppression - Mozart penciled in debauchery, mad titillation, and passion unrestrained by pedantic formalisms.
Minimalism and serialism explored what Beethoven pondered in "Moonlight Sonata" and what Satie laid out in his gnossienes and gymnopedies, the flip side of manual dexterity and high-side composing, instead heading for neglected avenues of change in more balladic forms. Cage threw in Zen, Partch ushered in the proles and lumpenproles, and now the lines of distinction were blurring because genius could reside anywhere, not solely in approved venues historically sacrosanct. I agree completely that art is caniballistic, must be so, but that devouring the old eventually becomes unsatisfactory if the elder virtues are not simultaneously questioned and then dethroned when necessary, maintained when fitting the needed expression.
And for examples of depth in minimalism, let me point to Gabor Szabo, Nick Drake, Fripp's reduction of classicalism in "Song of the Gulls," the Towner/Abercrombie duets, Japan's "The Tenant," Cage's solo prepared piano pieces of course, etc.. I think minimalism's true genesis is in tone poetry and the broadening of gesturalism rather than more clearly delineated forms.
KK: I am going to agree with you in regards to Warhol. His was visual minimalism made as commercial as possible. This is a tangible example of the dumbing-down of art. I can't see Warhol as an artist, but more of a graphic designer or illustrator at best. However, I am going to have to part ways with you on your view of Mozart. Mozart was no genius. I think people look at Mozart and see child prodigy + prolific output = genius. That's not the equation for genius. Mozart set the cause of music and the forward momentum in that art form back a few hundred years.
Let's examine this. Mozart was born six years after the death of Bach. Bach expanded music, took it to places previously unknown, removed boundaries, and created a complexity and depth that, except for perhaps Gesualdo, was heretofore unknown. Yet not only compositional depth existed within Bach's universe but also a lyrical depth. Here was an artist who could build music with the architectural complexity of a cathedral yet could craft a heart-touching melodic line of pure emotional lyricism. Bach moved music forward, expanded what was possible. He embraced chromaticism, pointed toward the future. Mozart was like the punk rock reaction to Bach's progressive rock, if you will. Mozart was Philip Glass playing the same triad for an hour to Bach's Second Viennese School. Mozart's music was not only simplistic but also incredibly repetitious. Not just in his overall output, but within any single piece of his. Entirely formulaic. Each piece contains in profusion, and is structured upon and around, the following three components: a leading-tone melody, running static eighth-note figures in the left hand or orchestral accompaniment, and a long long line of dominant cadences. Put those three ingredients together and: instant Mozart! To put a finer point on it, Mozart wrote one single piece of music 625 times. Piece no. 626 was more Franz Sussmeyer than Mozart, and is in fact the only piece of his which does not make me reach for the off button when it comes on the radio.
Let's examine this from another angle. Assume I'm a baker. I bake the same loaf of bread over 600 times. Maybe each one is a different size, but each loaf is from the same recipe. Each element of my baking output is a loaf of bread from one recipe. Does that make me a genius baker? Would anyone look at that and proclaim such a baker to be a genius? It makes me a prolific and extremely limited baker. Child prodigy, vast output, and early death is not the definition of genius. Being a media darling is not the definition of genius. We could arguably say that in fact Mozart was the first minimalist. He threw away most of what preceded him and embraced nursery-rhyme style sing-song melodies which depended on the leading-tone mechanism. He rejected chromaticism. He minimized harmony down to the I-IV-V progression, and in many cases, just the I-V progression. He stuck the same static running eighth-note figure in the accompaniment as though he just didn't know what to do for an accompaniment or blithely rejected it as unimportant. I'm not saying Mozart is to be avoided. I have quite a few Mozart CDs, and I've spent vast amounts of time listening, hoping to find something onto which I can latch, something new or unique. After all, it would be a tremendous resource with his vast output. The only element of his writing that I like is his orchestration, but there is where it ends for me. Here again, the label of the artistic kiss of death comes into play: accessibility. Maybe you choose not to follow a Bach fugue, so Mozart is great for background music; it neither challenges nor rewards. It's accessible, the definition of simplistic, non-threatening. Again: P.T. Barnum's quote.
As an aside, I think that ‘genius' is a word so overused as to be like a small stone in a creek bed that has been worn smooth from overuse. It has lost its original definition. When I think of a genius in music, I think of Bach. I also think of Arnold Schoenberg. Schoenberg invented an entirely new system of harmony. Schoenberg proposed radical evolutionary changes to the system of notation, as did Cowell; I'll get to him shortly. Schoenberg created his own theory of composition and followed it. Listen to the third or fourth string quartet. It's all in those pieces. Dodecaphonic or "serial" composition was such a vast palette for him, and the artists directly influenced by Schoenberg cannot be underestimated. I speak now of Alban Berg and Anton Webern. Listen to Webern's "Five Movements" for string quartet, the Berg "Lyric Suite" for string quartet, or even the opening of Act II of "Lulu," those first few chords that open Act II. Had I composed just that, again, I could die happy. Another person deserving of genius status is Henry Cowell. Read his book New Musical Resources, which was written in the 1930’s but even today sounds fresh and challenging. Cowell also had wondrous concepts for the evolution of musical notation; though different from Schoenberg's, they were no less brilliant. His invention of tone clusters was visionary, and that has certainly made a deep impact on me. Every day. How many composers did Bartok visit to ask if he might use their discovery in his own compositions? Ernst Krenek is another one in this mould. We could discuss him all day; sadly, he too has been overlooked.
Regarding minimalism, I think you cast a much wider minimalism net than do I. I consider people like Glass, Steven Reich, Nyman, Terry Riley, the New York school to be minimalists. I hear some of your examples more as austere or sparse, which I actually like a lot. I think of Arvo Part as austere, and I truly enjoy his work. I think of minimalism as two or three notes or a triad, perhaps an arpeggiated triad, repeated and being the entire structure of a piece. Cage's pieces for prepared piano may be in their own little category; I like those a lot. In fact, the recent set of cello works by Philip Glass I actually liked, too.
All that being said, I do suspect that Mozart and the New York minimalists could in fact have a very important role in the classical or composed musics. I think it's quite possible that their work may serve as a kind of Classical 101. Because it's "accessible," it provides an easy and welcome entry into the classical world for new listeners. As new listeners become more experienced and their tastes develop and horizons broaden, they move on to more interesting composers and discover the vast universe of composed music, a very good thing indeed.
PSF: I was intrigued that you play a fretless guitar on the
side. I've been a big fan of Mark Egan's fretless bass work but the use of
fretless six-string is rare. If I recall correctly, Matthew Montfort also uses
one, but I can't conjure up another name beyond. In what I've heard of your and
Sandor's work, I don't remember detecting the instrument. I'm curious why it's
not included in the duet CD’s... or have I just not been attentive enough?
KK: I don't think I've used the fretless on any of the records with Sandor. I used it on "Scalar Fields" and the new album Gravity of Shadows, both with Siegfried. I'm also featured on the International Fretless Artists 2008 album and have been asked to contribute a track to their 2011 release. Fretless is at once liberating and limiting. It's a rare beast, and there are not many fretless practitioners out there right now. I hope to see that changing, though.
PSF: I and others can't help but compare your duo work to Towner and Abercrombie, Bill Connors, some Egberto Gismonti, and the whole general austere ECM musique noir, indeed quite akin as well to the electric-siders like Terje Rypdal. What's your take on those gentlemen's such recordings, and why do you suppose this quietly disturbing melancholicly effulgent mode is so uncommon?
KK: I like Ralph Towner and Egberto; I'm less familiar with Connors or Rypdal. The quietly disturbing melancholicly effulgent mode you nicely describe may be uncommon due to the rarity of the proper chemistry required to achieve that oeuvre. I don't think there are many instances wherein two musicians could sit down and, in real-time, compose and perform an album or concert. Within that microcosm, no doubt the subset of duo guitarists is almost non-existent. I hear most other guitarists as an amalgam of their guitaristic influences; in other words, I hear most guitarists as guitarists, not as musicians. If your goal is to be a good guitarist, then there's nothing wrong with that. If you seek to be a musician, you must choose a different path. So many of them sound like a rehash of other guitarists. I suspect if you put two of these kinds of guitarists together, it just wouldn't work, not really. It could result in a big guitar mush of indecipherable entanglements and collisions, and, to repurpose a phrase from James Joyce, all manner of guitarhappy values and macromasses of meltwhile guitar.
I think for real-time compositional duets to really work, both members have to be true musicians and composers. I define 'musicians' in the sense that their voice is not limited to their instrument and only informed by others playing their instrument. I'm using guitarists as an example here, but it's certainly not unique to them. I've known pianists who have never seriously listened to, for example, any cellists but only other pianists as a frame of reference. To me, that makes them a pianist, not a musician. And again, nothing at all wrong with that if your goal is to be a pianist.
To be a musician, regardless of instrument, requires tremendous work, not only on your own instrument but study, exposure to, and absorbing influences from all instruments and voices and then from other instrumental groupings: solo instrument literature, duets - for example, the Prokofiev violin duets, trios, quartets - and on and on right up to and including orchestral works. All those permutations: orchestra with choir, with organ (like the 3rd Saint-Saens symphony), concertos, the Martinu piece for string quartet and orchestra, it just goes on and on. A tremendous influence for me is early music, specifically works composed between 1000 and 1600 AD. The pieces from this period in which I am most interested are all a capella vocal, no instruments at all. There are lessons to be learned from each of these settings which are sui generis to them, with colors, textures, form, and lines to which you'll not be exposed in any other way, even from the homophony from that period. Then to distill all this into a duet setting, where all works are spontaneously composed or composed in real-time, seems to be a rarity not only with guitar but with any instruments in duet setting. For example, I've been listening to an album of late by David Darling and Ketil Bjornstad titled Epigraphs, just a stunning work, beautiful and moving. I don't hear a pianist and a cellist, I hear two artists. I hear not only duet pieces but pieces with orchestral scope. Artists on this level are beyond rare, and to couple them in a duet setting is rarer still. I am certainly not there yet.
PSF: I suspect a twosome is your ideal personal playing climate, though I see where you and Sandor played concerts with Dominic Miller. First, why are those trios not released? The proposition of another participant frankly makes the connoisseur slaver. Secondly, might you in the future consider a quartet or larger format, perhaps even writing for several guitars?
KK: I don't know that a duet is my ideal climate, I'm not sure I have an ideal climate. I love duos, and I feel that there is so much to be explored within that setting that I am certainly looking forward to the discovery of new planets within the duet universe, but I also like the solo environment, both in composing and in recording. I've had a few offers to do solo performances, and I haven't felt like I was ready for that, not just artistically but emotionally or physically. It is an area of concentration for me, and I'm about to accept one of those solo offers. The Contraguitar is the perfect vehicle for this. The upcoming duet album of myself and Mark Wingfield will be a new direction for both Mark and me; he only plays electric guitar. The meld of his unique and beautiful voice coupled with my acoustic and extended-range voices has made for something of a shocking beauty for which I suspect neither of us were prepared. And I'm working on a solo album at present. I've done trio settings which were fantastic, some have been recorded but nothing released as yet. Sandor and I have a record in the can that is us and a brilliant artist of a percussionist named Balazs Major, a Hungarian artist. That record will be released in 2012. In the past, I've recorded and performed in quartet and larger groupings, but I don't feel a pull to return to any of that, not at present anyway. I do love the duo setting, and I really think I'm only scratching the surface of what is possible in that galaxy.
The trios with Dominic Miller were performed in concerts on tour; to my knowledge nothing of those were recorded. It was an interesting trio: I usually stuck to 12-string extended baritone, Dominic was playing classical guitar, and Sandor was using various instruments. The disparate textures blended really well, and Dominic brought something lyrical which is outside any of what Sandor and I do, so it provided an unusual and beautiful grouping both sonically and compositionally. I hope we do it again one day.
Regarding composing for a guitar ensemble, I've not really thought about it, but if it were the right project, I'd consider it. I was contacted by a university a few years ago and asked if I'd do a guitar ensemble arrangement of one of my compositions, but I couldn't fit it into the schedule within their time frame. Nice of them to ask, though!
PSF: Ever since watching the old video footage of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, with its multi-guitar section, I've wondered how many guitars one could compose for before everything becomes white noise. I'm thinking along the lines of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, though the style would not have to be so serial-minimal, and I suspect the result would be stunning. As you harbor an affinity for polyrhythmically dense work, what might be your thoughts in that direction?
KK: Could be interesting. I'd approach each guitar voice part as a single-line, more linear than vertical, conceptually, instead of a classical polyphonic part. I'd probably avoid anything denser than double-stops on each part. It would require very precise execution, both technically and musically. As for how many parts... I don't know! I guess I'd have to try various ensemble sizes and then compose from there. I could see dividing the overall ensemble into sections, much like in an orchestra, and use divisi writing within the sections when required. I could certainly explore some very interesting polyrhythmic landscapes in that environment. I do not think a de facto minimalist limitation would need to be applied. I suspect if the composing was done very carefully with regard to register and ranges, just about anything could be attempted. I do like the polyrhythmically dense as well as the harmonically dense and even the melodically dense, which can take on elements of the other two as well.
PSF: In your interviews and written words, I see little reference to the more serious rock and roll efforts - that is, progressive rock. I wonder if you have heard, for instance, Gentle Giant's Gentle Giant or Acquiring the Taste, King Crimson's Lizard, Focus' Moving Waves, PFM's The World Became the World, Yes' Tales from the Topographic Oceans, and such? Do you have affinities for any aspect of the rock idiom or has the unsettlingly large proportion of inane works within it deterred you from exploring the style? Probably what I'm asking is: what's your artistic regard of the rock musics?
KK: I'm smiling here. The only work on your list with which I'm unfamiliar is PFM. In my high school and early college years, I literally wore out a couple of copies of Tales from Topographic Oceans. There are a few others which should be on that list: Jethro Tull's A Passion Play, the first UK album, Yes' Close to the Edge and Relayer (just staying abreast of the shifting odd meters in "The Gates of Delirium" is wondrous), Genesis' Foxtrot and Selling England by the Pound, and no doubt I'm omitting some other key works here. There's an Italian band currently active called The Watch, and they are right in that mould. I love all that; very emotional, in my opinion, and, in most cases, technically difficult works: A Passion Play is a single 45-minute composition, Topographic Oceans is over an hour and a half and in four movements. This is music which has been clearly impacted by, if not outright modeled upon, orchestral works, really beautiful pieces. I don't count those among my influences, but I do enjoy them.
PSF: Proust is named as an influence, but I see/hear Joyce, Dante, Poe, Gene Wolfe (particularly his haunting ‘Earth of the New Sun’ quadrilogy and the fascinating short-story cycle leading into it), and others as well. What do you bring over from your literary consumption when you compose or play? Where many composers, Morton Subotnick being just one, tributize literature, you re-plant some of its seeds. How do you regard the interaction of literature and music?
KK: So much of the creative process for me is internal: events, concepts, feelings, emotions, processes, textures, dynamics, structure, the line, form, and elements on and on and on which are not verbal or tangible constructs, not for me anyway. When I read someone like Eliot or Joyce, specifically Ulysses and Kerouac, for example Visions of Cody, and Proust, who can make the ethereal concrete and tangible, that is miraculous and completely outside my realm. Then there is the question of Joyce's Finnegans Wake, which is almost a sound piece. To take something like the inner dialogues in Ulysses or some of Eliot's imagery or Rilke's verbal textures, these are works of art which jolt me into another location. By that I mean that they take me somewhere which would be otherwise inaccessible. There are a tremendous number of works of music which do this as well, but the locations where I end up are vastly different. Same with certain paintings. Pollock. There's a contemporary Irish artist named Ken Browne who seems not to use paint on canvas but emotion on canvas. His work just knocks me over.
But to return to literature, I don't know if I see a direct interaction as you say, but I do see a similar thread in the creative and expressive process, at least as regards the authors I've mentioned here... yet, as I said, an arrival at a different location. They take me outside myself, and, once that's achieved, I began to automatically think of the analogy or equivalent in music. For example, how could the inner dialogue of Ulysses be expressed in notes and chords? What kind of harmonic structure could be invented to draw a parallel with some of the word sounds in Finnegans Wake? What about the intensely deep, revealing, and honest first-person narrative of Proust?, the visual imagery invoked by Eliot?, what would this sound like? I've not composed or recorded anything which is directly based on a literary work, not yet, though if I did, I wouldn't reveal that it was in fact based on literature. I'd be the only person that knew it was based on Finnegan. But the exposure to and impact from this kind of art makes an indelible mark on me, and, like the impact of certain paintings, as one absorbs and finds growth and fuel in these kinds of works, the nutrients from that soil give life to the entire plant.
PSF: Yeah, Finnegans Wake. Man o man, what a headache that would be! Still, I envision a surreal melodic progression often digressing while atonality and oblique contrasts incidentalize shifts in narrative as the "story" progresses. I always think back to what Subotnick did with just a few scraps of ancient poetry when he realized Wild Bull. By the way, when I interviewed him, I was rather surprised that he expressed a definite interest in laptopping and turntabling... but then, that was the sort of scope he and compeers were exercising back in the day.
KK: "Surreal melodic progression often digressing while atonality and oblique contrasts incidentalize shifts in narrative as the story progresses." Consider that stolen! Actually, I don't know what I would do for a Finnegans Wake piece. It may happen, though. I have at times wondered why there's not a film version of the book. My familiarity with Subotnick is somewhat limited, though I am quite familiar with a piece he did in the late '80’s entited "And the Butterflies Begin to Sing." I like it a lot, in fact.
PSF: The work you pen and spontaneously create would certainly be described as 'heady' and complex, so I doubt we'll be seeing Kastning or Szabo/Kastning ditties any time soon heralding the latest Toyota four-by. Yet, much of your fare is so endemically moody that I can easily see it running in the more abstractly pensive films finding favor in art-house audiences (more than one Peter Greenaway film would, for instance, have been ideal). Have you been approached to work with movie directors, and would you take such labor on? If not, why not?
KK: In the past, it wasn't something I'd pursued or was something in which I was interested. Such seemed too limiting to me, too boxed-in...to compose based on what's onscreen and what the director wants. I am well acquainted with someone who was a vice-president at Sony Pictures, however, and he once asked if I'd be interested in doing any soundtrack composing. I don't know if it was a rhetorical question or if he had something specific in mind. At the time, I said I wasn't interested, but now I think if the opportunity presented itself and I felt that I could make a contribution to the film, then yes, I'd consider it. There are a couple of films of Werner Herzog's for which I felt the kind of affinity that I would have certainly been interested in trying something. You mentioned Greenaway, and I could also see that working.
PSF: With Herzog, are you referring to Popul Vuh and their soundtrack for Nosferatu? Perhaps Aquirre or Fitzcarraldo as well?
KK: Well no, actually I think I was watching Encounters at the End of the World, and I just started internally hearing things, new pieces which would have fit very well, or so I thought. I've always liked the way in which Herzog crafts a narrative.
PSF: Keith Jarrett, the modern god of the piano, is a reference you cite, and he's certainly more than legendary for his improv solo work. What connection do you see between spontaneity and spirit? One is hardly going to find such subtlety in, oh, Lynyrd Skynyrd's or Hawkwind's jamming, much as one may like both and for good reason, so what does improvisation measure or manifest, and where does it depart from "mere" variations on basic thematics and enter extemporaneous originality?
KK: I guess spontaneity without spirit could render something rather vapid. I think the, as you say, mere variation on basic thematics might be a definition of jazz. I've nothing against jazz; in fact, I am a lifelong fan of Bill Evans. However, it's a fairly narrow and very pre-defined type of improvisation. And by that I mean it's really employing only one element of improvisation: that of melody. The form, rhythm, tempo, meter, and complete harmonic framework is pre-determined, as are the roles of each instrument. I don't include the work of Ornette Coleman in that statement, as I feel he pushed beyond the harmonic structure of jazz. I think where it enters, again to use your phrase, extemporaneous originality is within the realm of real-time composition; in other words, with nothing pre-defined. So we're comparing a single element to an art form with all elements included. Think of it like this: imagine a violin concerto where the orchestral part was completed but only half the solo violin part was written. The soloist's charge is to complete it during the performance; in other words, to improvise the missing parts. Now envision the blank manuscript paper which eventually went on to contain the orchestral parts and the completed solo violin part. There was a time when that composition was still in the realm of improvisation, before it was all written down. Let's say that jazz is analogous to the first example, wherein the orchestral parts are all completed: not much improvisation required, possible, or allowed. Think of writing the entire work as real-time composition, where the performer is also the composer, thus having total control over each element at all times. Quite a difference.
PSF: I'm always struck dumb and dismayed to find such work as yours typified as "difficult." Sophisticated, yes; rich while spare, certainly; in a class damn near of its own, of course; but difficult??? Your songs are relaxing while engaging. One can fall asleep to them or sit and be fascinated by the inventions and multiple conversations. In fact, I find a paradox: the feel and texture are terrene, yet the mind soars while listening. What does it say of a society - and I'm thinking particularly of America - that it still clings to the artistically simplistic, blase, moribund, and all-too-familiar? What is the artist's duty or challenge in such a culture? How does he/she successfully carry that out?
KK: Interesting. When you say "... clings to the artistically simplistic, blase, moribund, and all-too-familiar," again there's a cogent description of minimalism and Mozart. To return to your observation: those are some interesting takes on my work. I suspect it may get stamped as difficult vis a vis being difficult to categorize, or it may seem so new as to be alien or alienating to some less adventurous listeners. As an aside, my work gets regular air time on an Australian radio show called "Difficult Listening." I like that. The new is not always readily embraced...or perhaps my work isn't seen as "accessible," thank God. In our present day, it's tragic that what sells becomes equated with what's good. If a record sells a million copies, it has to be great, right? Not necessarily.
Before I respond to the next question, let's define our terms. I'm speaking of "artist" as someone concerted with art and expression foremost, and not commerce. I think the artist's duty is the same in the present culture as it has always been: truth, to remain true to their artistic vision. Again, truth in art. How they successfully carry this out may only be known to them, or even. Only they know their artistic vision, yes? Hence, only they will know if they've achieved it.
PSF: Though they are not mentioned in your site references, I'm sure more than a few well-versed listeners are going to locate elements of Penderecki, Crumb, Kurtag, Galasso, even Takemitsu and similar unorthodox creatives in your releases. Myself, as someone breathtaken with Xenakis, I was elated to read of your affinity for his opuses. Though your and his methods are different, they nonetheless erect a good deal of the same imagery. What exactly do you take away from listening to Xenakis? And, speaking of which, have you ever heard Jasun Martz's The Pillory?
KK: Yes, all those except Galasso and Martz, I need to look into those guys. Good ears on hearing any Kurtag in there! And my first composition professor was a student-slash-protege of Penderecki. I've studied Penderecki scores with input from him, which was truly amazing. You can add Ives to that list; his 4th symphony is something about which I think with great frequency. What a monolithic milestone! And his 2nd string quartet. Yeah, Xenakis. I hear his work as being so abstract that it won't fit on manuscript paper. One example is the string quartet "tetras" from 1983. I hear that as if the score systems weren't straight, but on a continuous S-curve, almost a pure abstraction. I love his work, very unique voice and concept. Each time I hear "tetra," is like the first time. I suppose what I take away from Xenakis is a kind of abstraction and architecture to which I'd otherwise never be exposed. They causes me to think and hear differently - again, to return to "tetras," imagining things that almost won't fit on paper. How would that kind of abstraction work on guitar, or any of the KK series of instruments, and in considerations of unorthodox instrumental usage and voicings, even combinations of instruments?
PSF: There's a profuse amount of quite naturally dominant/subordinate interplay in the duet CDs, as though one player listens, embroiders, and concretizes while the other stretches wings. Then places are traded. The subordinate, though, can be very subtle in his ministrations. I'm thinking particularly of "Returning to a Place We've Never Been" on Returning and "Tanz Grotesque, No. 3" on Resonance. There's almost never a direct vying for place or intense match-up anywhere... no guitar duels, if you will. Is this a matter of temperament, respect, design, or any combination of those?
KK: Temperament, respect, design, a guiding sense of form and structure, all at once and in service to the composition. The subtle ministrations, as you so succinctly surmise, are key at determining the meaning of all else. In the work with Sandor and me, if you focus on what Berg referred to as the hauptrhythm (primary voice) yet ignore or try to mentally tune out the nebenstimmen (secondary voice), you'll find that the hauptrhythm loses its meaning. The nebenstimmen, though ostensibly in the background, is constantly of equal importance as the hauptrhythm, so I think 'subordinate' is probably a mild inaccuracy; both lines are equal, neither would be possible without the other. I think you'll also find that in my work with Mark Wingfield.
PSF: Are you saying there was a sort of real-time instantaneous interdependence rather than leader/follower at the moment of play? I've always wondered about some of Yes' oeuvre, where, in listening to each separate instrument's line, it's almost shocking how dissociated they can be, yet everything falls together beautifully. How the whole survives the documentation process is another matter, but the recorded evidence is that everyone was in the pocket in a unique way. Is this what you're referring to?
KK: I can't speak for Yes, as I know some of their recording processes involve layering and not all of what ends up on the record were live performances, but (was) overdubbed and layered. For what they do, that's a perfectly valid approach. From what I've read, Topographic Oceans was largely created that way. That is certainly not to say they can't pull it off live; I've seen them a half-dozen or so times, and to see them tear through something like "Close to the Edge" in its entirety, even adding new complex details to it, is an amazing display. I only mean that I can't vouch for how they work in the studio. I can only tell you how I work in the studio and on all the duo and (as yet unreleased) trio albums: that means no overdubs, live performance only. But no, I don't think of or hear it as a leader/follower kind of setting or a relegation of primary and secondary component import, it is only the composition unfolding in real-time. I am doing my best to stay out of the way and allow that to go where it will. As I alluded earlier, what may sound like a hauptrhythmus would cease to have any meaning or impact if the nebenstimmen were removed. A fine example of this in practice and in real-life are the two Bartok violin sonatas. Historically, violin sonatas have been solo vehicles and showpieces for violin; not so with Bartok. His violin sonatas are like piano concertos; the piano part is astonishing and incredibly complex on those. I hear both instruments having equal importance and complete equality throughout. The structure of the pieces are so perfectly balanced between violin and piano that I can't hear those enough.
PSF: Having just finished listening to Scalar Fields with Siegfried, I note not a qualitative difference but a meta-quantitative one, a reduction of notes that nonetheless adds up to much the same effect, albeit I'd label this disc as para- and supra-melancholic. Is the title indicative of an allusion to the Teslavian scalar technology the U.S. government is secretly engineering or is it a play on words linking that to musical scales... or both?
KK: Wow, that's quite an analysis of that title! That particular name was suggested by Siegfried. He originally, as I recall, equated it to the technique of scalar field measurement concepts. It was equated as the scalar field measurement concept overlaid upon musical constructs; hence a double meaning, as "scalar" could refer to music scales. I thought it was a fine title, actually. Yes, it is a sparser set of compositions than many of my other works.
PSF: Then there's the pattern conjoining Kastning (K) and Siegfried (S) in a semi-cryptic aesthetic chemical relationship. The question of chemistry brings up a psycho-biology of personality. Though the tone in that release may be very kindred to the Szabo collaborations, the texture and volatility - that is, the airiness (rather than the fieriness almost universally mistaken against the term) - are miles apart. Do you choose your partners based on a set of certain criteria each time out?
KK: Good question. Oddly enough, I'm not usually the one doing the choosing. Siegfried, Sandor, and Mark Wingfield all chose me, but I concurred based on what I heard in their work. I knew in each instance that it would be a great fit. The work with Mark took a little convincing, because, as I've mentioned, he plays only electric, and I had never considered partnering with an electric guitarist. But as I listened to his albums, I heard an artist, not a guitarist. He did an release titled Three Windows, which is a trio record with him, a harpsichordist, and saxophonist. As soon as I heard that, I knew we'd be a great duo combination. I think we pushed each other outside our comfort zones and into the unknown. There is an instance of a duo project wherein I wasn't chosen nor did I do the choosing. I have an album date this year with bassist Michael Manring, and that came about by two mutual acquaintances who both said "You guys need to be working together!" as they felt we were kindred artistic spirits. I've long enjoyed Michael's work, and it turns out he was familiar with mine. He contacted me, and we began discussing a project together. There is an instance where I did select someone for a duo project: I've been a huge fan of cellist David Darling for years, and, one day while listening to one of his records, it occurred to me that we would work really well together, so I wrote to him and asked if he'd like to do something together. His response was an enthusiastic yes, so later this year, he and I will be in the studio together.
PSF: There's a musical current I like to tag as "somnambuesthetics," wherein certain musicians (Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Loren Nerell, Chuck van Zyl, etc.) like to play elongated synthesizer concerts people can fall asleep within, literally inviting them to bring blankets, sleeping bags, and etc. to the concert hall. I use a small roster of CDs to drift into lethean netherworlds as well (Roger Eno's Voices, Phil Glass' Koyaanisqatsi, Erling Wold's Missa Beati Notkeri Balbuli Sancti Galli Monachi, Bang on a Can's Music for Airports, David Hykes' Harmonic Meetings, etc. - and now the Kastning/Szabo and Kastning/Siegfried CD’s), so I'm highly sympathetic to this, but what really intrigues me is the level of thought and mind entered into when listening to higher order sonic artworks. It's a crossing of boundaries which makes me wonder if dream, abstraction, nightmare, pure being, creativity, and attenuated thought aren't all just different aspects of the same state. With your omnivorous intelligence, what do you make of it all?
KK: Yes, and Chuck Wild also. I think it's an interesting genre, actually. I'm not as familiar with it as I'd like to be, but am listening to more of it. I do think that abstraction, pure being, and even dreams are all components of creativity. I've not considered them being different aspects of the same state, but that poses an interesting theory.