Anyone who approaches KastningSiegfried's music, expecting traditional compositional structure or forms, could initially be puzzled by the freshness of its sounds. But the listener with an open mind and a sense of adventure will be delighted to discover that Kastning's music evolves from simple, cell-like beginnings into a complex and fascinating interplay between two guitars. If you liken this sonic experience to sitting through a film that seemed hard to follow in its early scenes, but paid off big in the end, you get a good idea of how this process of personal investment in art can work.
While Kastning's music might be best suited for listeners with a taste for the cerebral in their music, those who have appreciated the intellectual works from artists such as Robert Fripp, Frank Zappa, Ornette Coleman or Anthony Braxton will be well-equipped to delve into Kastning's "Bichromial." Perhaps even closer analogies to Kastning's new music would be the duets of John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, minus the rhythm section. "Bichromial" does not sound exactly like the work of these artists as much there is a thread of kinship that is evident in its boldness and invention. Did I mention that it's hard to categorize?
The main influence I heard in KastningSiegfried's album is that of the modern innovator John Cage, a man who is well-known in classical music circles-and virtually unheard of in "the real world." Using a compositional approached known as "open form," Kevin and his duet partner Siegfried throw riffs and motifs back and forth, the results at times resembling the interaction between two dancers; at others, a face-off between two boxers. There is no empty virtuosity here as dialog and development are the order of the day. While some of the eighteen tracks on the album would make for satisfying listening in their own right, the pieces on "Bichromial" are better appreciated in the context of the whole.
Sonically, "Bichromial" is a treat. It is recorded with an extreme pan, with one guitarist relegated hard to the right channel and the other to the left. So, rather than reproducing an idealized stereo soundstage, each speaker basically acts as a single guitar. A touch of digital reverb was added in the mix and works quite well.
Throughout the album, Kevin Kastning uses three guitars from the Santa Cruz line (he is an SCGC artist endorser): a 2000 Model D, a 2003 OM (both custom made to his specs), and a 2002 Baritone tuned to ADGCEA. Siegfried played two Martins: a 1998 D1 and a 2000 000-1. The guitars sound great in every combination.
Kastning has also written solo sonatas for piano and chamber music for string trio, string quartet, and wind quintet. His work has been performed by the London Chamber Group, which also commissioned from him a new piece to be performed next year.
Kastning's compositional influences and inspiration come from a variety of 20th-century artists-from composers to writers (Joyce and Proust) to painters (Jackson Pollock). More information about Kevin Kastning, his music and MP3 samples from his albums are available at www.kevinkastning.com."
- Album review, "Acoustic Player Magazine," USA, 2005
Bridge Guitar Review, The Netherlands, November 2004: Kastning/Siegfried Bichromial (2004 Greydisc) "When one is used to listen to the average finger-style music or a renewing classical approach in guitar music will encounter that Kevin Kastning and Siegfried have chosen a renewing experimental setup in their guitar music which is played in duets. The music cannot be described as agitating or calming but more as deeply improvisational graving interplay in 18 parts. The atmosphere they create is one of painting songs in melancholic and abstract mindscapes. The compositions are inter-related. Kevin Kastning plays three different types of Santa Cruz acoustic guitars and Siegfried plays 2 acoustic Martin guitars. The recording is extremely well-done. The chemistry between Kastning and Siegfried is remarkable and both players dig deep into their soul and one feels a profound conversation between the guitarists going on. Feelings of hope, desire and fear and loneliness can be felt in their music and the goal seems to be to confront the listener to cadenced inner visions. The music reflects a pioneering art, creating new dimensions and adding new impulses to acoustic guitar music."
- Bridge Guitar Reviews, The Netherlands
"You (Kevin Kastning) are a great addition to the Acoustic Player Magazine forum, and someone pushing the limits of the acoustic guitar. I think what you do is great. Keep up the fine work."
- Doug Jones, Associate Editor; Acoustic Player Magazine
"Kevin writes beautiful, thoughtful, highly original music. His work is not to be missed."
- John La Grou, President, Millennia Music & Media Systems
The 13th Fret: Kevin Kastning: Artist of the Month (October 2004), www.13thfret.com
Check out the artist's website:
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