Robert Lippok and Kaan Bulak | Kubus
Feral Note (DL)
In these six tracks, Kubus I-VI, the Berlin-based first-time collaborative duo of composer Robert Lippok and (augmented) pianist Kaan Bulak flex their newfound synergy from light to dark, and back again. We begin in a fairly ambient sweet spot, with only a half-sweetened tinkling of the keyboard that offers some resistance, and a lot of post-classical lilt. Lippok shades the edges with slithering synths, and the shades slowly darken. The atmosphere is of mixed emotion and chicanery, sizzling hiss and all. The two players nicely counterbalance the way of the world, just when you thought things were upright, one decision can turns your next chapter inside out. But even in the fuzz and in-between, this is is more fractal than fracas. In fact even when it sounds as though emergency assistance is being deployed on the scene, the dream of harmony continues. In fact, what you are listening to is a live improvised concert after the two artists met just a week prior. That may play into the way they each hold tight to their own instrumental corner, and for the moments when we are completely drenched in the fusion thereof.
There are suitable moments in repose, like a sole player rehearsing alone on a super rainy day, and open pockets where both Bulak and Lippok shine individually, aiding and abetting the tension conjured separately. Once conjoined it’s like oil and vinegar at first, once shaken something ‘other’ is released. The way in which the piano plays in the foreground, then is altered with echo and disperses like a fine mist – oh, it’s pretty mystical. And with the glitch-laden curvatures of raw industrialism, the overlap is sublime, especially on Kubus II. It’s a soundtrack for a 6:44 film of the mind, regarding its listeners as witnesses. When Bulak starts to emphasize the innards of his instrument the apparitions are set free as he wrangles it like an upright bass. The elusive spirit of the recording is incredibly slippery and yet remains tight-lipped about the potential meaning of its title which means many things if you do a quick search. This ambiguity fuels the tension.
Kubus IV is when they grab at the outer most tender parts of my senses. The tingling static edges of the work has a drone core, and fluttering keys and other wavy effects that crash and recede but don’t act as a simple loop. Without being there in person this still manages to invoke a surround sound a/v experience, a tall order for a live record to successfully nab. Honestly, this is the type of thing I could listen to on repeat for an entire day and not hasten for a moment to press forward. It’s a genuine balance of curved ambient iciness spiced with a perfect amount of fractured refrain, gently floating in the equanimity of active/passive delivery. And while you wait, anticipate, perhaps your ship will come in via Kubus V. Or so it seems.
They begin to retire and split paths on the concluding Kubus VI, and for all the unembellished corners, it’s a respite from whitenoise, for now. Slowly they reduce the setting to a Cageian setting of minimal abstraction, and soft faded hiss.