"The intensity lies in the building", an open letter to Kim Myhr

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Dear Kim, 
Finally, I can give you some feedback about "Milk Run Sky”. It is a beautiful track – as we have come to expect from you – and extremely interesting regarding the questions we have been discussing together.  
You told me that "Bloom is quite different from its predecessor: lots of overdubs, electric guitars, electronics and some acoustic guitars too”, and, indeed, in this first single at least, it seems that, compared to All your limbs singing, you have considerably expanded your sound palette. This is really a studio album, many textures stemming from many sources come and go, giving your music other facets, other ways of playing with sound, this first material of the musician. Some would say that emotion is what comes first and is then contained in sound, but, much like Christian Fennesz (although in a quite different relation to the guitar), you make such distinction obsolete, allowing the repetition during almost 11 minutes of a sole chord to be a thing of beauty. 
You already have a long tradition of working with quite radical gestures, and this is what has attracted me to your music. You focus on sound at a micro level, exploring the richness of resonance and time, aspects that go beyond the more, not immediate, but traditional, conception of music as lyricism. Or, maybe more accurately, that transfer lyricism to another scale, as you pointed out to me. Although the music evolves slowly, it sounds rich and full because there are always sonic events occurring, despite, or rather because of, repetition and insistence. That's the reason why you told me about your embarrassment regarding the word "minimalism” that you consider as a formal dead end. Your music is raw emotional density made sound, and vice versa.  
This being said, the attention on the instantaneity of sound (what you call "vertical time”) does not prevent you from thinking about music in terms of construction. You wrote to me about the fact that working with choreography taught you how to work with transitions, and I started thinking about Myriam Gourfink, probably the choreographer who had the biggest impact on me. Her work with really slow movements and figures that go seamlessly from one point to the other, in some sort of elastic time makes the attention go deeper into the bodily texture (the respiration, the motion, the trajectories, etc.) – and in that respect could hardly be defined as minimalist, although nothing happens in terms of recognizable story. In the same way, your music helped me define what I was looking for in aesthetic concerns, and attending your concert with your quartet Circadia last spring was quite educational in that respect. 

Needless to say that I was expecting a lot from this new record of yours, that you described to me as "more generous” than All your limbs singing, as you were "interested in making a bigger sound here […], without the manual labor that is necessary when playing acoustic guitar”. "Milk Run Sky” does not disappoint. Once again, the subtlety of your guitar playing is at the center of the scene, with these rhythmic acoustic strums, this time superposed with these sonic objects built from manipulation and resonance that are given time to unfold and decay throughout, and when the pickings appear halfway through, playing arpeggios and almost pop melodies, it becomes absolutely gorgeous. On this question of scale though, some could say you subdued your approach: with all those many layers, the attention divides and navigates from one plane to the other. There is more gained than lost in this airiness though. The intensity lies in the building and extends its own territory, in the way the tension grows inwards through a composition (almost in the pictorial meaning) that is both sparse and rich. The attention only has more corners to dig in, to explore the potentials of the material. Thank you for this wonderful experience.
I look forward to listening to the full album.
All the best,

permalink: permalink -- -- tagged: • Kim Myhr • Myriam Gourfink • Christian Fennesz 
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