Instruments designer of note breaks out from collaborations delight to shine on his own.
Former student of Pat Metheny and partner-in-crime for the sophisticated likes of Mark Wingfield, Kansas-born Kevin Kastning may be better known for multi-strings guitars he designs than for the music he creates, but this album is bound to redress the balance. “Otherworld” feels strange, indeed, yet it’s hypnagogic rather than alien – in a way that makes some of the pieces hark back to both Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” and Philip Glass’ “Wichita Vortex Sutra” – as their eerie minimalism conjures up a stately loneliness. Still, there’s a life blood running through the record, and the dewdrops of “Present Red And Vanishing” paint it all in the most impressive, pointillist-to-impressionist, manner.
So while “In Stillness Defined” captures the moment of existence on a sparse backdrop with only the slightest of movements and a low-tone twang, a baroque reflection fills the vibrant space of opener “Dawn Forest Bridge” to resolve a strum in a resonating sort of solipsism. Of course, a certain abstractness sets in “Aspect Form Vortex,” although where “Drifting Thread And Wonder” bares a muscular undercurrent to the transparent texture without ever developing the yarn, “Arc Rotation Shadow” holds a whole romance in its glimmering picking. It’s not the unusual sonics that reign in “Into Glance Turning” or “Veiled Silent Overturn” but elusive melodies which the magic range of original instruments only enhances.
More so, Kevin gets high on a humorous contradiction of “No Abstraction Of Perhaps” with a hint at hope seeping in through a deep folk tincture, and the overall result is breezy, yet no easy, listening experience. That’s how a trip down one’s veins may sound like: mesmeric.