Thursday, July 9, 2009

“Extraordinary” Kline DVD Acclaimed in Vital Weekly

The latest Vital Weekly congratulates Starkland for its “extraordinary and well-documented” Around the World in a Daze DVD. Here’s the full review from Dutch writer Dolf Mulder:

Reading the name of Phil Kline means thinking back of that new wave band with the beautiful name The Del-Byzanteens, a band that also had Jim Jarmusch among its members. Their LP and singles still circulate in my house! I don't know much about Kline's later whereabouts. He profiled himself as a composer and gained success with his project 'Zippo's Song' (2004). A song-cycle based on poems written by American soldiers while fighting in Vietnam. Now he returns again with a very special project. The double dvd-audio carries a high-resolution surround sound recording, promising a very special audio experience. It took some time before I had the opportunity to undergo this experience, as my old equipment was not fashioned to play these two discs. 'Around the World in A Daze' is a song cycle in 10 episodes, lasting some 65 minutes.

From the title you may deduce that space is a keyword in this production. Recordings for this project were done all over the world. But besides Kline is very interested in the spacial aspects of music and sound. He played with these aspects by using whole sets of boomboxes for the recording of most tracks. Besides this main interest, other musical items led him by constructing ten very different works. The lengthiest piece 'Pennies from Heaven' is the one I liked most. Because of the sound and because of the structure of the piece. The same descending scale is repeated and repeated again, transposed and multiplied, etc. The constant downward movement is very imaginative and brings about a meditative state. Also the opening piece 'The Housatonic at Henry Street' fascinates because of its multilayered and detailed soundspectrum.

Other pieces use the human voice as the most important material, like 'The Wailing Wall' resurrected by the voice of Kline himself. Two other pieces have the violin in the center: 'Svarga yatra' and 'Grand Etude for the Elevation'. The beautiful concluding piece is built from field recordings done in Central Africa. Tracks differ also because for the different structuring principles that are used. But as said the pieces impress above all because of their soundqualities and spatial characteristics. Each piece is accompanied by its own series of photos. Nice photos often. From urban environments, to nature, etc, etc. But I didn't need them for enjoying the music, nor the other way around. And I couldn't bridge them in my imagination. While listening I felt a bit 'imprisoned' by looking at the same time at the pictures. Well, this also a spatial effect I guess. The second dvd has an extensive interview with Kline commenting on each piece. This gives a good insight in what Kline had in mind. Congratulations for Starkland for releasing this extraordinary and well-documented release.

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