K-Space

Monday, 24-Nov-2014 18:26:15 MST

∞ Infinity

Released
August 2008
Format
PC/Mac CD-ROM
Label
Ad Hoc
Cat
Personel
  • Andy Wilson (Programming)
  • Gendos Chamzyryn (Vocals, Percussion, Amplified Doshpulur, Piano, Cello)
  • Tim Hodgkinson (Lap Steel Guitar, Klarnet, Electronics, Alto Saxophone)
  • Ken Hyder (Drums, Vocals, Amplified Ektara, Sampling, Electronics)
Notes
Released on Ad Hoc Records
Links
Purchase

Release Notes

COMPUTER ONLY DISC (PC or MAC) that re-composes all musical parameters when loaded + 4 Quicktime movies + full-color photo album.

A new, revolutionary album which is different every time you play it has been created by Tim Hodgkinson, Ken Hyder and Gendos Chamzyryn. At a time when the music industry is making a dramatic shift from CDs to downloads, K-Space's Infinity presents a different option. First of all, this disk plays on a computer, not a CD player. And this is a whole piece of work - you can't download tracks from it. In fact the disk contains software that performs the 'pieces' on the album differently every time you play them. These performances are in no way random and this has nothing to do with shuffle-culture. The software is specially programmed to make choices from the available material. Furthermore you can't pause or fast-forward this album: the music is indivisible, and you can only turn it on or turn it off. In fact everything that happens is there to create a special listening experience... The sensation for the listener is of being in one space which encompasses different locations and different moments in time. And each space is different each time the piece is played. On the same disc, there's also 4 videos of the band, and a full-color photo album.

At a time when the music industry is making a dramatic shift from CDs to downloads, K-Space's Infinity presents a different option. First of all, this disk plays on a computer, not a CD player. And this is a whole piece of work - you can't download tracks from it. In fact the disk contains software that performs the 'pieces' on the album differently every time you play them. These performances are in no way random and this has nothing to do with shuffle-culture. The software is specially programmed to make choices from the available material. Furthermore you can't pause or fast-forward this album: the music is indivisible, and you can only turn it on or turn it off. In fact everything that happens is there to create a special listening experience... The sensation for the listener is of being in one space which encompasses different locations and different moments in time. And each space is different each time the piece is played. On the same disc, there's also 4 videos of the band, and a full-color photo album.

Faust's Jean-Hervé Peron says: "Great great piece of work on the musical/spiritual level as well as this very ingenuous technological twist: you buy one cd and you get x-times the length of always good music ! A genius strike ! And magic...... it is always new.. I was UP UP AND AWAY !!"

NO TRACK LISTING / NO TRACKS

Track List

listen to an extract...  

Reviews

Drowned in Sound

This sounds pretty impressive, I may have to get me a copy...

A new, revolutionary album which is different every time you play it has been created by Tim Hodgkinson, Ken Hyder and Gendos Chamzyryn.

At a time when the music industry is making a dramatic shift from CDs to downloads, K-Space's Infinity presents a different option. First of all, this disk plays on a computer, not a CD player. And this is a whole piece of work - you can't download tracks from it. In fact the disk contains software that performs the 'pieces' on the album differently every time you play them. These performances are in no way random and this has nothing to do with shuffle-culture. The software is specially programmed to make choices from the available material. Furthermore you can't pause or fast-forward this album: the music is indivisible, and you can only turn it on or turn it off. In fact everything that happens is there to create a special listening experience... The sensation for the listener is of being in one space which encompasses different locations and different moments in time. And each space is different each time the piece is played.

theetersecrimp, Drowned in Sound

To Infinity and Beyond

A phone call from drummer Ken Hyder: "How would you feel about a CD that changes every time you play it?" No cut-and-dried response to that question, but now there's opportunity to experience the potential exhilaration, potential frustration of such a slippery phenomenon. Infinity (Ad Hoc CD) is that elusive artefact, the endlessly non-replicating document&183; It's the third release from K-Space, the trio Hyder runs with multi-instrumentalist Tim Hodgkinson and Tuvan throat-singer, percussionist and musical shaman Gendos Chamzyryn.

Hyder and Hodgkinson started visiting Siberia in 1990, playing with local musicians in remote rural villages and hanging out with shamans. In 1996 they first played as a trio with Chamzyryn. K-Space came into existence. The name alludes to the researches of Russian astro-physicist Nicolai Kozyrev who conceptualised time as a channel for energy and created mirrored chambers for experiments into thought transference, distant healing and other human capabilities preserved now only in shamanic practices. Bear Bones, the group's first CD, established their singular approach to improvising - an animistic expressiveness and unpredictable reworking of time. With Infinity, the latest stage of the K-Space project, a new dimension arises as the music object is restored to flux. Listening is a one-off experience, as at a concert. In K-Space thinking, sophisticated technology becomes a means to access states of heightened attentiveness.

The technical breakthrough came when Hodgkinson met software designer Andy Wilson. Together they investigated ways to locate a selection of sound files within different contexts and to use them in different ways - varying dynamic levels, for example - so that repeated plays produce a stream of previously unheard music. The number of audio files was restricted to fit the data limitations of CD format but, combined and permuted, they create a soundworld that seems limitless.

"It's very far from random, though," Hodgkinson explains. "We wanted to build an experience like an open dynamic field of ever-changing possibilities in which what isn't heard informs what !s heard. We made a kind of global plan in which the fundamental idea was to vary the type of variation, to make clear distinctions between different kinds of pathways in order to limit the risk of everything coming out sounding more or less the same".

The result is identifiably K-Space music but it's no longer possible to revisit a favourite moment or even press a pause button to temporarily suspend the flow. The compensation for that loss is a uniquely energised listening situation. Placed in the tray of your computer and activated, Infinity runs each time for around 20 minutes. "We wanted a length of time where we could hope for the listener's concentration," Hodgkinson continues. "Long enough to take you through something, short enough to be grasped as a whole play that can be compared with other plays."

After hearing the CD numerous times, you are struck by the radically different forms it can take, as this K-Space mobile reconfigures in unanticipated ways. Currently I'm hearing a delicate duet between plucked strings and clarinet; next time this might be the twang of a jaw's harp, fervent drumming, incantation by a crackling fire or a burst of raucous laughter. You start to realise that in a sense it's all there all the time, that as Hodgkinson says the unheard actually does inform what's heard. The boundaries dissolve, the pathways open up and once again you plunge into K-Space.

Julian Cowley, The Wire

Conceptually provocative. A simple, but profound idea

This 'album' subverts the notion of an album, and by extension, sound reproduction as it inevitably leads to a stable, 'frozen' or static representation of a live performance or actual event. This disc comes with embedded software that remixes the tracks every time it is played: not the song sequences (there is no proper song to be found here - more like organized sound), but instead the actual instruments and their respective parts. In a sense it uses contemporary programming to automate free-association, reducing the 'free' to 'randomly determined'.

It can never be heard the same way twice...and it, ostensibly, can be listened to forever without ever hearing the same thing repeated. You could just leave it playing for years. Hence the title. Why somebody hadn't thought of this before I don't know. In a sense its the next step forward from Cage, Reich, Riley, Conrad, LaMonte Young, and all of post-modern/minimalist/concrete composition really; its compelling to think how they might have thought to apply this technology.

As to the music itself, its a combination of prog-rock (sans rock)/New Age/free-associative jazz coupled with a Tuvan throatsinger. Two of the gentlemen from K Space are alumni of Henry Cow (I think). Oh, and as noted previously, it must be played on a computer.

Matthew Sutton

Can You Have an Infinitely Variable Record? How No'?

A record which arranges a new piece of music with each play sounds like sci-fi fantasy. With well over a century in the business, the world's biggest music companies have never come up with such a thing. Genuinely new ideas are rare and this one is not a major label marketing gimmick. It is, instead, an attempt to bring the recorded music experience closer to live performance.

The aptly titled Infinity is a new piece by K-Space, the latest line-up to feature Dundee born percussionist Ken Hyder. It's carried on a cd-rom, which includes software previously used in gaming programmes and has been designed to trigger an entirely new mix of the musical elements with every successive listen. The most remarkable thing, to my ears, is that each time I've heard it – even knowing that I'm listening to the result of a computer triggered sequence – Infinity sounds like a cohesive musical work, as though it was meant to be that way.

Ken Hyder and his long-term collaborator Tim Hodgkinson formed K-Space with a Tuvan shaman, often playing live in places where there is no electricity. The dichotomy of a band like this using cutting edge computer technology sits well with Hyder's long history of musical innovation and collaboration.

Moving to London in the early '70s, Ken was drawn to the Little Theatre Club, run by drummer John Stevens, where the nexus of improvisers seeking to extend the language of jazz included Keith Tippett, Larry Stabbins and Nick Evans. At the same time he was discovering Scottish music whilst taking drum lessons from the very open-minded Stevens. "He blind-dated me with a School of Scottish Studies record", says Hyder, "He says "where's that from?" and I'm listening to the rhythms and a bunch of women singing, "sounds like North Africa to me John". They were the waulking songs for the teasing out of the tweed sung by women in the Hebrides".

Ken Hyder became the drummer in the improv collective The Amazing Band following Robert Wyatt's crippling fall. Their free improvisations included a session for John Peel's Top Gear which, much to Peel's amusement, generated a record number of complaints and a show at Ronnie Scott's club where they performed with psychiatrist R.D. Laing. Meanwhile Hyder was drawing parallels between the modes and drones of Scottish music and the soul and spirit of Albert Ayler and John Coltrane.

Ken Hyder's Talisker started out as a jazz band with some tentative nods towards Scottish forms, but the leader's interest in pibroch and the psalm singing tradition of the Western Isles suffused through their music and would ultimately spread wider: to work with Brazilian musicians, a South African band and even an album of music recorded with Tibetan monks.

In a world where facile Celt-fusion acts are ten a penny and even the better attempts at combining styles are quite common, it's worth noting Robert Wyatt's remark: "Ken's amazing – he was doing that stuff years before anybody else". The first Talisker album Dreaming of Glenisla came out in 1975 and has just made its debut on cd. The reaction to it seems stronger now than the first time round, which suggests that Hyder's visions are often ahead of their time.

Talisker's second release was perhaps their most ambitious. Land of Stone was born from Ken Hyder's interest in researching the improvisational elements in traditional forms of Scottish music. An arts council grant, which would ultimately take him to the home of the doyen of Gaelic waulking songs Miss Mary Morrison of Barra, led to a meeting with Hamish Henderson in the wood panelled home of The School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University.

For the Land of Stone album, Talisker was augmented by the impressive vocal talents of Frankie Armstrong, Phil Minton and Maggie Nicols, who still collaborates with Hyder in a duo they call Hoots'n'Roots. The connection with Hamish Henderson continued too. In 1979 Talisker played a show with the poet at Glasgow's Third Eye Centre (now the CCA), which is now archived in The School of Scottish Studies thanks to the recording I captured there when I was fourteen years old.

Along the way Ken Hyder recorded an album of freely improvised instrumental music with Dick Gaughan. Although this is not so well known as Gaughan's deeply politicized songs, the singer cites Fanfare for Tomorrow as a strong influence on much of what he's done since.

Hyder's longest lasting collaboration, with multi-instrumentalist Tim Hodgkinson, reaches its 30th anniversary this year. A new direction for their work came about after a chance meeting at one of Tim's gigs in Moscow in 1989 when he was asked "How would you like to play all of Russias?" Hyder and Hodgkinson became the first British musicians to play in Vladivostock since the revolution and, as this was still within the Soviet era, a separate KGB clearance was required for every city where the duo planned a show.

A discussion on how to find the right energy level for each performance saw Hyder introduced to the concepts of shamanism by Hodgkinson. Shamanic culture had been practised in secret since the oppressive Stalin era, so Ken and Tim's tour as The Friendly British Invasion in Search of the Soviet Shamans initially met with little response until they were given some tapes in Novosibirsk and, eventually, started to meet shamans in Tuva.

The experience of shamanic ritual music - kamlanie - had a profound effect on Ken and Tim. Meeting and playing with the shaman Gendos Chamzyryn in the Tuvan capital Kyzyl in the '90s resulted in the formation of K-Space. Ken Hyder says of their album Going Up that it "puts sounds and performances together in a way which doesn't conform to musical rules, but fits into the reality of nature which allows birds to sing in different keys and in different tempi all at the same time".

Going Up is an exciting and radical record, but rather than follow on with more of the same, K-Space wanted something new. "Before recording technology emerged", says Hyder, "anyone listening to music, perhaps unfamiliar music, would have to listen to it very carefully. With Infinity, the music is remixed differently each time. We hope that the listener will listen to it as if it were a one off live performance". By deciding that they wanted Infinity to appear on a cd, Ken Hyder and Tim Hodgkinson had already set limits on the number of files they could include to be remixed. However, changes in dynamics add to the vast number of permutations of the sound sources.

The complex dream of Infinty has been made possible in collaboration with software expert Andy Wilson, whose authoring and testing of the programme worked in tandem with Tim Hodgkinson's writing of scores for the work into computer code. One thing it is not: a random shuffle. Hyder compares the choices made by the software to asking a route planner for different choices on the road from London to Inverness. "You can ask it to give you a route avoiding motorways, or the scenic route. Similarly, a particular play on Infinity could concentrate on acoustic samples, or more electronically treated soundfiles".

Repeated plays of Infinity have rewarded me with radically differing versions of the piece, each one possessed of a compelling energy. The sound sources include atmospheric field recordings, an exotic spectrum of percussion, harmonic vocals, aka throat singing, string and reed instruments. Once it ended with bells, the next time with chanting and drums.

The piece runs to around 20 minutes and although it can become quite intense, the textures within remain very clear. Hyder and Hodgkinson found their researches on multiple layers of sound chimed with the work of neurologists who believe the human brain's short term memory is best equipped to juggle no more than seven completely different strands at any one time. All these experiences and insights informed the way Infinity was structured.

Ken Hyder is something of an unsung hero in his own land. Dreaming of Glenisla and Infinity represent innovations from different eras and, together, bookend a body of work from a musician on a continuing path of invention. A guiding light in Ken's life is the memory of his Dundonian granny who, when told something wasn't possible, would enquire "How no'?" Can you have an infinitely variable record? How no'?!

John Cavanagh, The Herald, Scotland

Primitive Percussive Music

K-Space's brief Infinity (ReR, 2008) was an experiment in delivering music to the public: the music, equipped with custom software, plays only a computer, and every time it plays differently (according to some internal logic) and no part of it can be paused or skipped. In other words, the piece is an indivisible whole, that can only be rearranged (according to its own laws not to the listener's desires). Aside from the technicalities, the piece is one lengthy and chaotic excursion into primitive percussive music, a tribal-shamanic-psychedelic mayhem with atonal instruments.

Piero Scaruffi

A Strange Little Beast

This release is a strange little beast indeed: the disc can only be played on a computer (PC or Mac) and has built-in software that reconfigures the music with each re-playing. That is, out of a large number of sound files the program chooses a unique path each time the play button is clicked. I have played this disc a good dozen times now, on both my PC and my aging laptop Mac and each time I have heard new sounds that weren't included in the previous play-through.

So what does it sound like? Lots of simple drumming, sometimes solo, sometimes in groups and at times extremely poly-metric, droney horns, mouth-harps and overtone singing, cello and reeds and odd percussive sounds, field recordings of Mongolian herdsmen and their families, and some sounds that I cannot place at all. And all reconfigured in a new way with each listening. I have to wonder what John Cage would have thought of this technology...

Along with this minor technological miracle come videos, photographs and voluminous (the file says "never ending") liner notes, bios of the principle players, and articles about various aspects of the recording process and it's attendant concerns, one of which is about cross-cultural sound making a lot of information that I am still trying to get all the way through. The videos look a little blurry but are fun to watch, with one showing the core members Ken Hyder, Tim Hodgkinson and Gendos Chamzyryn playing as a trio and sounding not unlike a subdued Dead C. Another shows a line of hand drummers, some dressed in shaman's regalia, inside a large tent or yurt bashing out a poly-metric sound field with Hyder in the center.

The disc itself is simple to navigate and I had no problems with it on either of my machines, outside of a few sound drop-outs when it was playing on my PC. A marvel even if the music isn't your cup of yak tea, both for the use of available technology, and for the joining of players from different disciplines and cultures.

Jeph Jerman, SquidCo

A Joycean Simultaneity of Epic Import

... Along similar lines, Wilson’s collaboration with Tim Hodgkinson and Ken Hyder’s K-Space, Infinity, was recently released by David Kerman’s Ad Hoc label, a subsidiary of RER Megacorp. Wilson designed software that provides a different mix of the raw material when the new K-Space album is played on a PC. It’s not just that volume levels change, but the entire order of events shifts as the familiar Shamanistic drones, percussion loops and raw vocals vie with modern technology to create layers of jarringly but beautifully juxtaposed environments.

Marc Medwin

Images

Gendos Chamzyryn
Ken Hyder
Tim Hodgkinson