CNV31 | 14.06.2006
ALL FILES (Download)
Collaboration between Ilios and Jason Kahn dates back to the 2002 Elektrograph festival, where they first performed together. Since then they've toured Switzerland in 2004 for the Domizil vs. Antifrost CD project and performed at the 2005 Ertz Festival in Spain.
"Astra" translates to "stars" in Greek; as does "Steloj," the title of their first CD, in Esperanto.
ILIOS has released numerous solo works in different formats and performed extensively in Europe, Japan and the Americas. Collaborations with various artists and production works for dance, theatre and films.
Jason Kahn has released solo and collaborative recordings on many labels, including Cut, Sirr, For4Ears, Brombron, Rossbin, Antifrost, Domizil, ATAK, Table of the Elements, Creative Source and Crouton. He has also exhibited numerous sound installations in North and South America and Europe.
"Nothing in the voice of cicada intimates how soon it will die"
From Teddy by J Salinger
It takes some time to find a pleasant listening volume and space for this release. Sixteen short tracks all packed with very very high frequencies make headphone and 'loud' loudspeaker listening tiring and occasionally unpleasant. Tiny computer speakers suit this kind of sound allowing the music to crackle and pulse as if emanating from a very sick hard drive. Don't let the harsh pitch discourage, once a suitable listening space is found the listener is rewarded with an interesting soundworld that is rarely explored by other musicians. The tones resemble noises created from speeding up recordings, turning machines into bubbling liquids. Even the air, the atmosphere becomes transformed into tones. Some of the sources sound like electrocoil microphones which record what is called 'hertzian space': the space and presence of radio waves, infra-red frequencies which penetrate and surround us all the time, but which are imperceptible without the use of such devices.
The brevity of each track means that they are not quite immersive enough to be thought of as soundscapes and yet they are not dynamic compositions either. The music simply begins, continues and ends with little change in the initial elements. Something like electronic cicadas, chirping away against the sky.
[ Mark McLaren ]
The duo of Jason Kahn and Ilios, Astra create a tissue of compound materials which mostly insist on ear-piercing high frequencies that are differently perceived according to the position in the listening environment. Sixteen untitled tracks, pretty short in terms of duration, aggregate and transform energetic flows and icy winds into apparata for the generation of educated noise in finely tuned feedback processes; these interactions constitute a presence both heard and felt, as testimonied by my ears' ringing during the track pauses. Any further description would be useless: this is a classic case in which individual features play a fundamental role in the intention of appreciating something that could be puzzling - if not annoying - for someone whose will is not so powerful, but that instead is a concrete stimulation for the ones whose inquisitive sense doesn't stop in front of an apparently impenetrable façade. The hypnotic/looping quality of most of these aural footsteps is a useful booster for more extreme consequences; the immersion in a sonic idiom whose peculiarities reveal an advanced architectural intelligence is greatly enhanced by some dramatic spirals, characterized by incessant transmissions of unknown codes. Everything sounds organized, yet utterly unfamiliar. Surgical beauty of the highest rank.
[ Massimo Ricci ]
This encounter between Barcelona-based Greek electronician Ilios and Zürich's Jason Kahn was recorded in Ilios's adopted home town on, it says here, June 30th and 31st 2004. It's news to me that June now has 31 days, but then again Ilios and Kahn are good at doing funny things with time, and many of these sixteen brief tracks give the illusion of being longer than they actually are. The tight hard-edged editing – this is music that starts and stops instead of beginning and ending – is a Kahn speciality (cf. his Songs For Nicolas Ross on Rossbin, Sihl on Sirr and Drumming on Creative Sources), and the sonic Polaroid technique works especially well here, showing that Ilios's music can be just as powerful and effective in small chunks as it is in monumental slabs like Old Testament. The words "Astra" and "Steloj" both translate as "stars", by the way (the latter in Esperanto, as if you didn't know that already from your collection of ESP Disk' albums), and it's fitting for another stellar album on the magnificent Conv label.
[ Dan Warburton ]
For anyone who believes that exploring the microsound genre has become a static endeavor, having exhausted all avenues of further development, this cooperative effort between Ilios and Jason Kahn released on netlabel CONV should help discredit that idea.
It is suggested from time to time that, because of the commercialization of the microsound aesthetic along with the fact that digital technology has made the means by which it is created so accessible and reproducible, the microsound genre has reached a dead end and now can only retrace its steps. The compositions found in “Steolj” show that the microsound genre is still dynamic, relevant, expanding, and that it doesn’t have be a commercial release to be good. Kahn and Ilios have taken the essence of the microsound concept and allowed it to grow, evolve, and expand. The sounds on these sixteen untitled tracks include subtle, low-volumed, explorations of tiny sounds, liquid walls of microtones, dense drones, insistent, shredded segments of high pitched tones, wavering sonar-like pulses, and noisy microtones set against a background of field recording of voices, coughs, the babbling of a baby, and machine-like thuds.
[ Larry Johnson ]
Usually the MP3 releases are short, somewhere between fifteen and twenty minutes, but Astra offers a full album. Astra is a new band of Jason Kahn and Ilios, the man behind the Antifrost label and the Electrograph festival). Astra means 'stars' in Greek and 'Steloj' means the same in Esperanto. Although this is their first release together, they started working together in 2002 and the recordings for this release were made in 2004. Although the work is broken up into sixteen tracks ('Pista 1', 'Pista 2' etc.), this much more just one long piece, me thinks. It had trademarks of both players. The analogue synth of Kahn vs the computer techniques of Ilios, of high pitches tones and ambient glitch, which occasionally go into deep bass territory. Sometimes the sound is low and creepy, like it is waiting for something, an sudden outburst, a thunderstorm to come. That isn't going to happen, this is not the kind of music for an eruption. In stead it moves over to another creepy sound field. Quite intense music. Nothing new under both stars, but nevertheless very fine music.
[ Frans de Waard ]
CON-V EDITION | 2015