Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kurt Lorenz-- The General Analysis of Nature EP

"The General Analysis of Nature", the first EP by artist Kurt Lorenz is a challenging and fascinating undertaking of five tracks, each of which plays as a micro-journey through a realm of physics. Separate, each track is a complete idea that is realized by extrapolating a sound-element that acts as a guide. Together, the tracks commune and interweave as microcosms of the multifaceted scope of the nature of the world.

"Magnetic Moment" opens with a mysterious, hoppy looping synth. The synth acts as a conveyance through the track; Lorenz lets his sound linger and then bursts it open by bringing in a dark, intense bass synth and a driving percussion, all the while impelling the listener to hear that continually gyrating theme. The track is an omen of what's to come and an exciting first offering that blends synthetics and physics and pulls the listener through a corridor of sound.

"Eigenvalue", the second track, is introduced by an oscillating, unsettling synth that tunnels through the ear like a worm. That insidious sound is underwritten by a steady rhythm and light, airy synths. The piece whirls through brain like a dervish. I had a sense of ants in an open field at dawn, working madly in their tiny, intricate worlds. This track is successful because of its combination of the large and small-- the oscillating synth, the strong beat, and the major themes. All move together smoothly, albeit uneasily, but Lorenz has another surprise in store for his listeners: roughly two-thirds into the track, just as the listener begins to settle in with the sounds he's been surrounded by, a voice sample overlays those sounds, intoning: "For we have become a people, indeed, a whole world dependent upon the technology, the enormous sophisticated complex technology that we have created. Yet despite our depending on it, most of us know next to nothing about how it works or how it fails to work." The sense of unease that permeates the ear suddenly makes sense: in a world where art and music are so augmented by technology and where that technology has become an integral part of the creative process, what happens if that same technology collapses?

"Resonant Sway", the third track, begins with a method that is similar to the preceding tracks: a singular sound (in this case, a looming liquid reverberation) that opens the piece acts as a unifying thread. Here Lorenz layers a more upbeat, almost danceable rhythm under his thread, and listeners are treated to a surreal, arboreal experience. When the "sound thread" fades away, one feels a sense of arrival and abandonment and it's as though he's been tunneled into the depths of a forest and left to experience its offerings in solitude. It makes for a simultaneously disquieting and somehow pleasant experience.

The fourth track, "Soliton", opens with an organ-like synth, and this time Lorenz gently introduces the percussion and a bright but soft synth as transport. After the jarring, percussive experiences of "Resonant Sway" and "Eigenvalue", "Soliton" feels gentle and uplifting. The listener becomes joyously aware of Lorenz's ability to soothe as well as unnerve. This particular journey feels astral, subliminal, and steady.

The final track, "AlfvĂ©n" is evocative and pensive, with bells and a string-like synth acting as a vessel through its layers of sound, combining dark and light, mechanical and musical, busy and calm. The track dissects itself and places itself back together again. It's an intricate and deft distillation of the restless mood of the EP, and a beautiful coda to the album as a whole.

All in all: deeply thoughtful. Lots of layers to analyze, fun for the listener who enjoys connecting with sounds and physics. Want to propose a theory as to the general meaning of a pattern? Try out "Eigenvalue" or "Magnetic Moment". Want to meditate? Go for the eerie underworld of "Resonant Sway" or the beauty of "Soliton".  Again, not for the pop of heart, but for the thoughtful person who likes an aural puzzle, this EP is a pleasure to hear, again and again.

Available on Kurt Lorenz's website, name your own price. See Kurt's portfolio at www.kurtlorenz.com.

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