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Eyvind Kang
Ajaeng Ajaeng
Ideologic Organ
Catalogue Number
Release Date
May 4, 2020


Press Release

To be heard with ears half bent, or with one side facing what Maryanne Amacher calls "the third ear". The great reverence in which the Tanpura is held by Indian classical music, its transcendental but occulted place in the tradition alongside its normal function as a drone, made a strong impression on the composer such that it has taken decades to formulate even a simple Tanpura Study. The fundamentals, the Om, as well as the overtones, the music of the spheres -all these have their valid rights, but in Tanpura Study they are embedded in a series of gestures, what I call signatures, on the melodic level. In Tanpura and Harpsichord, there is an encounter of overtones with chords braided into pun-notes, what Gerard Grisey calls "degrees of transposition". Taken together, this amounts to a non-spectralism in which, contrary to first impressions, there are no fundamental frequencies, even in the bass. Ajaeng Ajaeng: with respect to European string instruments, the technique col legno affords the direct encounter of wood and string, opening the way to a more tactile conception of the sustained sound, while bringing the materiality of the bow and its practices into question. In violin, viola, cello bows, Pernambuco wood offers an ideal example of extraction, colonialism, deforestation. With the Ajaeng, a Korean musical instrument, the situation is more complex. The dialectic of court to folk music, always political, always incendiary, may be heard here in the encounter of forsythia and silk, of Dae Ajaeng to So Ajaeng, and on a broader level of Dang Ak (Tang Dynasty music) to Hyang Ak (native Korean music) and their representations. Alternating music and sound, overtone arrays mingled with noise, marked by the bow change, in flamelike patterns which flicker, emerge, and fade again. A slow down structure, also formalized in Time Medicine, seems to produce a long decrescendo, with the technique of the players drawing out the flicker patterns in a kind of game. The point here is not to produce a drone but to delve into the question of life in sound. This apparent emergence of life is due to the apparatus, what Marx calls a "social hieroglyphic", which brings forsythia and silk together in technique, cultivated by practices which are themselves sustained by the real relations of student to teacher to student. The recording engineer too, by placing one mic below and one above each Ajaeng, bifurcates the listening space; the mix, one Ajaeng in each speaker, again produces a bifurcated image of the sound. Thus the sound is split in four directions, to be reconstituted in the cochlea, but with the center of the body as the real target. This music is made for meditation. On retreat in 2019 I had a revelation: there is no difference between the prayer, the hearing, and the void. There is nothing original in this idea; Wonhyo and many sages have thought it before.

—Eyvind Kang, April 2020

Tanpura & Harpsichord

Lilac Atassi : Harpsichord Eyvind Kang : Tanpura Recorded by Nicole Orlowski and Chloe Scallion, ROD, CalArts


Tanpura Study

Eyvind Kang, Trey Spruance : Tanpuras Recorded by Marc Urselli, Eastside Sound NYC Mixed by Randall Dunn, Avast Seattle


Push Off

Yoon Na Geum : So Ajaeng Han Lim : Dae Ajaeng Jessika Kenney : Woodblock Hyeonhee Park : Bass Drum Ches Smith : Bass Drum

Recorded by Recorded by Go Geom Jae, SoundGo Studio Seoul, & Marc Urselli, Eastside Sound NYC


Time Medicine

Yoon Na Geum : So Ajaeng Han Lim : Dae Ajaeng Jessika Kenney : Woodblock Hyeonhee Park : Bass Drum Ches Smith : Bass Drum Miguel Frasconi : Glass Janel Leppin : Cello Erica Dicker : Violin Dan Peck : Tuba Eyvind Kang : Tuba

Recorded by Recorded by Go Geom Jae, SoundGo Studio Seoul, & Marc Urselli, Eastside Sound NYC


Ajaeng Ajaeng

Yoon Na Geum : So Ajaeng Han Lim : Dae Ajaeng

Recorded by Go Geom Jae, SoundGo Studio Seoul

::: All tracks mixed by Jason Schimmel, The Bunker Los Angeles Mastered by Dan Hersch at d2

Portrait photo : Jessika Kenney Cover photo : Rings of Neptune. These two 591-second exposures of the rings of Neptune were taken with the clear filter by the Voyager 2 wide-angle camera on 26 August 1989 from a distance of 280,000 kilometers (175,000 miles). Image credit : NASA/JPL

Digital Track List

  1. 1 Tanpura & Harpsichord 19:00
  2. 2 Tanpura Study 11:48 Buy
  3. 3 Push Off 3:14 Buy
  4. 4 Time Medicine 7:20 Buy
  5. 5 Ajaeng Ajaeng 29:50

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