April 24, 2024

Justin Walter – Unseen Forces     is a breathy space of electronically warped wind instruments

KRANKY                21st April 2017

Justin Walter’s album is based on the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), a rare wind-controlled analog synthesizer from the 1970’s. I think that those cosmic explorers, The Sun Ra Arkestra, may have used one. We’re basically talking a trumpet tied to a synthesiser, creating sounds even more blurred than the darker moments of Miles Davis’ Dark Magus but less intense. The atmosphere is lonely jazz; the electronics creating textures you can touch and the loops allowing Walter to solo slowly and at length.

Justin created all these sounds himself and points out that they are neither composed nor improvised. It sounds like he thought himself into the right mood, the right space, the right place and made the sound that fitted. He says: “There was a definite process used to create this music but at no point was any music ever written or composed. When putting this music together I was often aware of feelings related to density, spacing, silence, and the sense of time pulling back on itself, like trying to stretch a scene and pull on it in ways that distort it ever so slightly.”

Sixty has a little moment that drags me to Kometenmelodie from side two of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn. It is a fleeting moment and replaced all-too-soon with breathy fuzzed guitar and buzzed keyboard but the sort of moment only brought into focus by slow, considered music that allows space for the mind to breathe. Piano and other keys keep a percussive pulse in places. Drones are elsewhere. Sounds squelch or fuzz, they may be the tapping of valves or the electronic warping of breath. Sometimes they are almost trumpet tones, sometimes otherworldly. Layers overlap and loop yet the breath stays central to the concept.

There are no moments of instrumental virtuosity, just a gentle accumulation of moments, tones and shadows that add up to a night of tones and touch. I get the feeling that Justin Walters is utterly in the moment as he plays here and that he loves the sensations he is producing. So do I.


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