Dan Kaufman and Barbez : Force of Light

Force of Light is not so much a work in a musical sense, but a work in a poetic sense. Dan Kaufman and Barbez do not have an ear for that which strikes them as “good” in Force of Light, neither do they make music that “appeals” to them. As I’ve come to know Force of Light, it is an album that searches for a connotation that doesn’t strike me with a sense of liking or of enjoyment in a usual sense, but of trepidation, anticipation, of building to something eerily unknown, a paranoid sense of caution that is never completely substantiated, which only augments the feeling even more.

Force of Light is said to be inspired by the poems of Paul Celan, a Jewish poet born in 1920 in Romania, survivor of the Holocaust, though many that he knew and loved were not survivors. I myself am unfamiliar with the works of Celan, so I can offer little in the realm of interpretation of his works by themselves. However, when melded with the music of Force of Light, the raw regularity of Celan’s words spoken as lyrics add to the unidentified looming sense, the danger that pervades the album. The consistent words are disconcerting, contrasting so defiantly with the anxiety of the music, making the paranoid only more so, questioning all as if every question mark could save me from danger, when really it would only reaffirm that things are certainly disquieting, certainly uncertain, but at least that’s certain…

The slow quavering music aggravates the anxious for the first five songs of the album, tramping unsure staggered tracks throughout outer, middle, and inner ears, then middle again, outer, inner, outer, middle, inner, inner, outer, inner…

And finally the build stops. The screaming climb to skies that are always out of reach stops with the sixth song, “The Black Forest.”

And suddenly everybody’s doing a conga.

The percussive beat is alarming not only because of its disruptive break with the rest of the album, but also because a xylophonic spree with theremin and drums is an unseemly mixture for a dance party; unfitting… right?

The incongruities brought in “The Black Forest” are joyful ones, light ones, things that stand out from dark of “The Black Forest.” But the dark context of the light is what gives the light its strange force, a warped force, as if that is not the proper place to be viewing such light things, joyful things. “The Black Forest” is where the light has mutated to survive in darkness, and this disruption of light and dark into mutated-light and dark now befits nothing. If light is not quite light anymore, is dark not quite dark anymore? Has the once eerie darkness, this looming sense of the unknown that has provided such disconcerting feelings of anxiety and trepidation, this eerie darkness… has that changed too?

But the trepidation trudges on, so whatever provides it is neither light nor dark…

… right?

Similar Albums:
Barbez – Insignificance
Book of Knots – Traineater
John Zorn – The Gift

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Dan Kaufman - Force of Light

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