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Recorded in Copenhagen Denmark 1997, “Music for Eyes” represents the dual efforts of synthesists-composers Kenneth Knudsen and Christian Skeel. Having heard (via word of mouth) of Knudsen’s work, this writer’s curiosity was appeased upon receipt of this CD.
Here, Knudsen (synths and keyboards) and Keel (samplers, computers) team up and engage in minimalist ambient-electronic pieces that surpass this writer’s pre-conceived notions. This project seems to justify many of the positive assertions pertaining to Knudsen’s prominence and stature within Denmark’s jazz (see April 99’ AAJ review “Sounds and Silence”) and “progressive” communities. Christian Skeel is a new name to me, however his contributions to “Music for Eyes” certainly indicate a collaborative effort.
“Music for Eyes” comprises several movements as the CD closes out with compositions titled “Toy Shop At Night” and “The Melancholy Speed Skater’s Dreams”. For the most part, this project is ethereal, at times delicately quiet and features low key yet probing synthesizer explorations. During the opening movements, sounds of thunder or something simulating explosions offset or counter the almost solemn soundscapes inherent throughout the CD. Many of the passages are enchanting, pastoral and soothing or perhaps therapeutic. The “DDD” recording is fantastic (which is a prerequisite for music of this nature) and highlights the nuances and subtleties of these pieces.
Comparisons? Perhaps early Brian Eno or David Sylvian’s work with Holger Czukay; otherwise, Knudsen and Keel do not reinvent the wheel yet the lucid imageries and adept execution earn high marks as this project substantiates the vital and burgeoning scene taking place in Denmark. This is a good effort, which should not go unnoticed. ***1/2 Out of 5 stars.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.