Strum and rhythm laid bare to build a vision of momentary monumentalism.
Given all their improvisational angle, it’s not easy to see spontaneity in Kevin Kastning’s pieces, yet these seven numbers – laid down in a single morning and presented here in order of appearance – shed a different light on the guitarist’s creative approach. Titled after the Hungarian village that the American visited on his European tour, “Kismaros” is possessed with strange spiciness, coming from Balázs Major’s percussive fantasies which serves as canvas for the guitar to paint on in almost timid strokes, as opposed to what the two artists do when bundled in a trio with Sándor Szabó who linked them in the first place.
In the span between cymbals’ rustle and occasional splashes of strings on “Kismaros I” and the romantic ripples of “Kismaros VII” – yes, defining the tracks’ actual meaning is left to the listener in additional aspect of freedom – silence plays a prominent role, setting up pregnant pauses without aiming at tension even when notes hit the bottom end and bounce off. Major’s subtle groove may inform KK’s strum with a trance-like, tribal vibrancy but, keeping drumming to bare minimum, “II” has a wind of suppressed grandiosity about it, while the surfaces that are being hit in “V” reveal a harder veneer to the duo’s rapport.
Quite unexpectedly, the barely-there “III” opens its shell to let out a glimpse of folk tune, whereas “VI” opts for Renaissance sort of fusion transparency which is rather intense in places. Still, it’s the 10-minute “IV” that goes for the greatest dynamic amplitude and contrasts sticks’ gentle touches with fierce, if brief, attacks on fretboard, all falling for a filigree interplay. Born on the spot, the music’s beauty is elusive and impressive at the same time, the name “Kismaros” sounding like a spell – and magic is there, indeed.