Keeril Makan -  Target (CD Starkland)

Four compositions form the latest release by this up and coming American violinist, whose works are orientated towards chamber music clearly indebted to the more abstract realms of contemporary classical music, musique concrete and minimalism. The first, ‘2’, from 1998, is performed by Jennifer Choi (violin) and David Shively (percussion), and makes for a grand entrance to the set, bringing as it does a sprightly and fresh performance where the instruments are allowed to breathe as they work away at some compellingly jagged construct as perfect a juxtaposition for the times we live in as anything else expressing anger and frustration. The second, ‘Zones d’accord’, spanning almost 9 minutes and recorded here in 2002, is played by cellist Alex Watermann and was originally used to score a choreographic performance by a French artist. More subtle yet full of tense dynamics, it equally builds to something quite powerful and hostile before it tapers from its climax. The title piece, ‘Target’, follows next and is broken into five parts intended as a commentary of the proceedings following the 9/11 attacks. Using text by Jena Osman and Laurie Rubin’s mezzo-soprano as well as the California E.A.R. Unit (a chamber quartet dedicated to new music and whose credits include work with Morton Feldman), these pieces are dominated by Rubin’s versatile performance and a generally moody and tempered accompaniment of different instruments.

The final work, ‘Resonance Alloy’, from 2007, is another percussion piece by David Shively that spans almost 30 minutes and pushes the setting towards something metallic, where the timbres generated are afforded a chance to go somewhere simultaneously mesmerising and unsettling. And whilst ‘Target’ may well form the album’s centrepiece, it is this that stands out as its real highlight for me.

 An incredible listen through and through, though, this release is rich, rewarding, intertwined with a wide range of emotions, and proof positive that Makan is a name worth keeping an eye on. RJ