Isotherme – In Germinal Knots
My name originally came to me at a rest stop on the NY State Thruway. Eric, a percussionist friend of mine, laughed when I told him about the origin of the name “Isotherme”. The Thruway was also where he and I had lifted the name “Nondrian” for a new band we were playing in back in 2004. But in early summer 2012, I was drinking coffee, parked too close to the tandem trailer entrance at the Modena Thruway rest stop when this 18-wheeler obnoxiously beeped at me to move. It was a tractor-trailer owned by the French-Canadian company J.E. Fortin, and “Transport Isotherme” was a phrase printed on the side of the truck. I’ve come to learn that they specialize in hauling refrigerated goods for long distances, and that a customer can rely on safe transport of valuable perishables given the steady temperatures maintained in their trailers. I don’t foresee my ever needing Fortin’s services, but I did like the word “isotherme” (a French translation of the English “isotherm”). At that moment, I minced the letters and syllables in the word, and discovered that “isotherme” can be neatly parsed into three shorter and more significant words: Is|Other|Me. I remember that when I arrived to work that day, I asked a colleague to help me search the word as part of any websites on the internet, just to see if there were others who had already laid claim to Isotherme. We found nothing like it at all, and it was at that point that I adopted my “other me”- a new handle under which I would have a go at writing and recording my own music as a solo artist (for more of that story, see the liner notes for my release Flux Gestation isotherme.bandcamp.com/album/flux-gestation)
Recently, my good friend Kees (www.roofhare.bandcamp.com
) and I were chatting with another good friend, Leon (www.unlikenoise.bandcamp.com
), about creativity and progress in art. Kees’ wife Suzanne is an accomplished artist across a variety of media (www.suzannetaetzsch.com
), and he mentioned she often feels the need to declare some pieces she has been working on “done” in order to free up creative space to move ahead. I believe many musicians (and artists of all types, really) can identify with this and would probably do well to embrace this maxim. But a work’s premature birth can bring tears, and many of us keep files of sketches, photos, fragments of poems or verses-choruses-verses hidden safely away for later release. Sadly, we often find the flame that inspired these fragments is difficult to re-ignite once a distance comes between us the original idea, so while it takes a lot of courage to release a work that has been abandoned, the tough love we show it by untying that germinal knot can give us closure of the past to open new doors ahead.
Perhaps one of my “impossible dreams” is to convey my music in a listenable format that matches the sound in my head. Occasionally, a friend or listener will tell me that something I recorded sounds “great”, to which I’m always tempted to respond, “Thanks, but I wish you could hear what it sounds like in my head.” Listeners hear what is there. Maybe musicians hear what isn’t. Call it cynicism, call it modesty, or call it a constant yearning for a prize bloom in the garden of our musical flora. In one regard, I admire this quest for perfection. It can point to a pride in detail, a care in presentation. But also, perhaps we are susceptible to declaring too much of ourselves and forcing our own will upon our music, leaving little space for the listener to add his/her part to the art. Electronic music works so well in a sort of ambiguous delivery. In a way, it invites the listener to create along with the composer or performer. One thing I love about Trance music is that it can suck if you pay too much mind to it, but it’s fantastic with eyes closed and imaginations wide open. We ourselves can complement the beauty in the beats.
In Germinal Knots is the second album release of uncollected compositions (a companion to the Flux Gestation album) that were recorded between mid-2012 and late-2014. The pieces herein now represent knots untied and purged from the seed’s shell. With the possible exception of “The Sound of Shutting Down”, each of these pieces was written and recorded very quickly, and without much fuss. I originally called most of them demos or works in progress because I never really considered them “done” at the time I set them aside. Most of them were finished enough to put on Soundcloud or Bandcamp as suitable representations of where I was heading with them musically, but I always thought I would have more to say with them at a later date. I use the word “most” above because two of these pieces enjoyed a release by two separate netlabels in 2014. “Enjoying the Undertow” was a single on Fwonk* fwonk.bandcamp.com/album/fw142-enjoying-the-undertow
and “Winter Is Gone, and You” was released on the compilation album Sehnsucht on Big Wave Records bigwaverecords.bandcamp.com/album/sehnsucht
. Both of these were, indeed, also written and recorded quickly, but I gave a lot more attention to honing them in the mix, knowing that they were going to be a part of “someone else’s something bigger”. Please see the notes on these individual tracks for more details.
The album title In Germinal Knots came from words written my poet friend Amanda, who beautifully replied to my request for a few lines around the concept of “womb”. I offer a deep gratitude to her for this. She nailed it.
So, here are more wee pieces from my musical journey, most of them shuttered away and homeless, except for their breathing in my own musical womb. I love each of them for a host of reasons, but for the sake of abandoning the soil and sprouting naked and raw, I hope their untied blooms handsomely decorate my road ahead.
JK, December 2016
released December 18, 2016
All instruments, programming, noises and music by Jeffrey Kirn.
Cover photograph and cover design by Jeffrey Kirn.
Recorded at home in 2012 through 2014.
See each track for notes on the particular pieces.
Also, be sure to listen to Flux Gestation, which features seven further early compositions.
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All rights reserved, 2016.