Eli Keszler, 2016
Music can sometimes benefit from an air of mystery. I've seen Eli Keszler a number of times. He'll string piano wire across large spaces—once in a cathedral-like, open archway under the Manhattan Bridge—then agitate them with animatronic devices at indiscriminate intervals. A full performance features Keszler and other musicians performing alongside these intermittent, metallic rumblings. His installations work better for me than the performances. His drumming can seem one-dimensional: always moving as quickly and lightly as he can around the kit. Half-way through I find myself planning my evening later.
On record, away from the mechanics of it all, it's surprisingly more riveting. Even if I'm well aware of all that's involved, it sounds more mysterious, detached from its human force. Sounds with very real physical origins appear more like musique concrète constructions.
Last Sings of Speed is a double-LP that rushes by and is on it's jittery way before you realize it. Despite a restrictive palette—just Keszler's insectile percussion playing against a single abstract sound—each track achieves a unique atmosphere. It's not just simultaneity, he's audibly responding to the random sound eruptions around him. He's just duetting with an unpredictable partner. His playing seems to have evolved as well. Many tracks feature lurching stop start quality that gives the music a seasick sway. Last Signs is so engrossing, I'd be tempted to give his live set another chance.