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Friday, September 15, 2023

Jaap Blonk / Damon Smith / Ra Kalam Bob Moses - Rune Kitchen (bpa, 2023)

By Jury Kobayashi

Thwack! And thus begins the magnificent album Rune Kitchen, from Jaap Blonk, Damon Smith, and Ra Kalam Bob Moses. Rune Kitchen is the latest release on double bassist Damon Smith’s label, Balance Point Acoustics, featuring long-time collaborators vocalist and sound poet Jaap Blonk and drummer/percussionist Ra Kalam Bob Moses.

This album is mesmerizing. It froths, it spits, and bubbles up. I often cannot tell who is making what sounds. Smith uses every part of the bass, brushing the bow across the strings creating a fan like sound, to rubbing the top of bass and playing the literal varnish on the instrument. At other times Smith employs a full rich bowed sound, singing out melodic material. Moses creatively plays a wide variety of percussion instruments-he rattles and shakes and yet also finds time to groove. Moses’s playing at the end of the last track might be some of my favourite moments in the entire album. Blonk’s voice is iconic and his contributions to this album are incredibly satisfying. Blonk sings and swoops and purrs. His sounds range from full voiced singing, to mumbling, and all the way down to the scatological. Blonk’s use of electronics is a particularly subtle feature and texture in the album; buzzes and blips underscore the music and are sprinkled in on what is a mostly acoustic album. The electronics are a beautiful touch, and they blend incredibly well with the instruments and often provide a crucial element to the textures.

One notable fact of this album is that, to my ear, each of the musicians lends their voice to the album. Smith uses throat singing in one track harkening back to Peter Kowald’s use of the same technique. In “Art Should Ty to Hover Above our Humanity a Bit and Not Wallow in It: An interview with Damon Smith” (which was published on this blog back in March of 22) Smith acknowledged Kowald’s influence on his sound. Moses sings and chants, invoking a ritualistic feeling to end the final track of the album.

I cannot recommend this album enough to fans of this style of music. Ultimately, my descriptions fall short of getting at the music because words often fail with such unique sounds. It is mixed brilliantly, and the listening experience is visceral and compelling. Something has been cooked in the Rune Kitchen, and it goes down stimulating multiple senses, creating indescribable textures and leaves the listener craving more.


armando said...

Thanks for the nice review!
The delightful visual art of the album, designed by the three musicians, also contributes to a global sensual treat.