Dirac: Phon

The third recording by dirac—Peter Kutin (guitar, electronics), Florian Kindlinger (electronics), and Daniel Lercher (electronics)—is a single, uncut exercise in real-time composition of some forty-two-minute duration. Phon begins restrainedly as tiny slivers of electronic sound converge alongside a portentous violin theme whose repetition proves trance-inducing. Everything unfolds with quiet deliberation until, a dozen minutes in, the volume and intensity begin to slowly rise. The drone-heavy mood remains dark and disturbed as the electric guitar's scalding stabs move to the forefront, its lead followed by other materials (including the deep-throated honk of Susanna Gartmayer's bass clarinet) that swell in volume and density too. Having reached a relatively tumultuous pitch at the halfway mark, the sound mass deflates slightly, only to undertake another ascent, this one even more intense than the first. A field recording of a train or subway car rattling down its tracks works its way into the totality alongside see-sawing tones and the crackle of electronic embers. During its final quarter, the sound mass grows ever noisier and turbulent with again the guitar's searing lines leading the charge, but then decompresses as it enters the final laps. It's easy to visualize the Viennese trio hunkered down over their respective laptops in deep communal concentration as the collective material—twenty-first century chamber music, they call it—develops as arrestingly as it does. That it was generated in real-time makes the listening experience all the more powerful.

June 2010