Scalar Fields
(Greydisc, 2005)

Scalar Fields, a jazz album with new age inflections, is the fourth CD collaboration of Kevin Kastning and Siegfried. It consists of 20 guitar duets, repetitively titled "Microlibrium 1" through "Microlibium 10" and "Macrolibium 1" through "Macrolibium 10."

These are quiet, acoustic pieces that have some melody but still sound very formal. Siegfried and Kastning play acoustic guitar, while Kastning also plays acoustic 12-string, fretless classical and acoustic baritone guitars. All of the music was recorded live in the studio. The tracks range from 45 seconds to a little over seven minutes.

An excerpt from the liner notes give an idea of how abstract this CD is:

The twenty compositions on this album could well be placed into twenty different categories. However, we composed the pieces around one of two concepts: a macrocosmic compositional form, and a microcosmic compositional form. The macro- pieces illustrate broad structural landscapes, stark directional shifts into distantly related shapes, and may progress through multiple interlacing systems. The micro-pieces are narrower in scope; sketched, not painted; yet are whole compositional molecules.

I could not hear any differences between the two types of compositions mentioned above. The two men follow each other closely and blend together well. The compositions seem more like exercises than songs, however.

Unlike a lot of avant-garde music, none of this is jarring. However, there is little or no emotion here. The compositions are carefully constructed, but they tend to blend into each other.

This may be a CD for guitar players only, and careful listeners at that. However, KastnigSiegfried must be credited for creating unusual and complex music.

by Dave Howell
24 June 2006

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