Strand in Strands :: Reviews and Quotes
Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements / Strand in Strands
Kevin Kastning is a Berklee College of Music alumnus who has been called a revered guitarist and celebrated acoustic guitar wizard, and for good reason. With over 300 compositions to his name, and a discography spanning more than 40 albums, Kastning's work has garnered 13 Grammy® Awards firstround nominations since 2018.
Carl Clements, the internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist hailing from Massachusetts, weaves a remarkable tapestry of sound on both Tenor and Soprano saxophones. With a conversational style that's both explorative and emotionally invested, Clements mesmerizes listeners with his pensées and visions, while the guitar provides a beautiful backdrop to his sonic wanderings.
Together, Kevin and Carl create gentle excursions of interwoven beauty, crafting an intricate dreamlike soundscape that's both enchanting and immersive. Their 2014 release, Watercolor Sky, was awarded the coveted title of Album of the Year by acousticmusic.com, a testament to their unique musical vision and innovative approaches to their instruments.
Their sixth album together, “Strand in Strands,” showcases the duo's deep understanding of each other's musical language, while pushing the boundaries of what's possible on their respective instruments. The album contains ten new duet compositions for 12-string Contraguitar, 17-string Extended Hybrid Classical guitar, 12-string Baritone guitar, and Tenor and Soprano saxophones. For listeners of neo-classical, meandering wonderings that verge on the Avant Garde, this late 2022 release is a must for your collection. With more albums currently in the works, it's clear that Kevin and Carl's creative partnership is one that's built to last.
Mediaversal Music (US)
Kastning & Carl Clements
Strand in Strands
Review by Kev Rowland
"Here we have the latest release from the pairing of Kevin
Kastning and Carl Clements, two wonderful musicians who have already released
some wonderful albums together and are now returning with their latest, ‘Stand
In Strands’. Kevin works with a multitude of different musicians in his
improvised world, yet his works with Carl have been some of his most successful
in the past, and this has proved so again this time around. Kevin provides
17-string extended hybrid classical guitar, 12-string contraguitar and 12-string
baritone guitar while Carl in on tenor and soprano saxophones, and here they can
be found bouncing ideas off each other in way that is both relaxing and exciting
as they uncover new grounds together.
Kevin is often the most frenetic, with his picking quite staccato, and against that is Carl’s more languid approach with notes which are often held and extended. If one feels the other is in a particularly inspired passage then they may step away for a second, allowing them each to breathe and regather before joining their forces together once again. Kevin has long been recognised as a wonderful guitarist, and his continued use of instruments with far more strings than can be healthy (in fact, this recording features some of his smaller guitars) allows him to move music in directions well outside of the norm, while imbuing plenty of classical feeling into music which is avant garde and exciting. The saxophones are melodic and provide a wall for the guitars to be placed against, one having a certain strength and presence while the other is far more fragile and fleeting. The result is something which is beautiful and dynamic, continually moving and shifting, wonderfully invigorating while also allowing the listener to relax in their world while playing this on headphones so none of the nuances are missed. If you have not previously come across Kevin and his continued works with other musicians, then this is a great place to start."
Progressor Magazine (Uzbekistan)
Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements
Strand in Strands
"Kevin KASTNING, prolific guitarist, has teamed up with Carl
CLEMENTS, saxophonist, to produce a sixth album produced in collaboration. We
find in this album music like what Kevin KASTNING has been delivering to us for
several years, that is to say an album of mostly improvised music, where the two
protagonists explore the ups and downs of the staff. musical. More precisely,
Carl CLEMENTS plays the high notes while monsieur KASTNING walks briskly on the
staff but especially favoring the low notes. We are also entitled to some sounds
of struck guitar strings.
Everything starts slowly with the short track “Resolution Pending” serving as an introduction to the album. From the first notes, we recognize the particular sound of Kevin's guitar but we notice an atmosphere, a more jazzy sound added by the saxophone. Throughout the album, the two musicians perform their respective parts as if they were two simultaneous dialogues that overlap but end up getting in tune for a chord or two. We hear repeated musical motifs and moments of silence. Some lengths but also some moments of happiness. This gives an introspective, abstract, ethereal music. We perceive jazz, sometimes a syncopated rhythm gives a prog sound, the music can also be contemplative and at other times, we hear any composition of music that could be described as contemporary.
Sometimes the magic works, we feel that something is really happening between the two musicians. These are the moments that motivate us to keep listening. But it remains a music which is addressed to the informed listeners."
May 2023 (FRANCE)
Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements
Strand in Strands
"Kevin Kastning plays guitar, most often guitars that he
invents. On this album that means a 17-string extended hybrid classical guitar,
as 12-string Contraguitar and a 12-string baritone guitar. He often works with
Carl Clements, who pitches in here on soprano and tenor sax. These pieces are
improvised dialogues between the two.
What I like about most of Kastning's work is that he's immensely approachable, despite the improvisational nature of his music. Clements is the perfect foil for Kastning's unusual guitar work. The texture of the reed blends nicely with the plucked guitar.
This is their sixth album together, and that rapport is obvious from the start. As they improvise, they riff off each other's ideas and often find a satisfying resolution at the end. This is still highly unusual music, but there are many points of entry for a more casual listener. Few experimental and improvisational artists have such a solid feel as this duo.
This set hews much closer to something recognizable as jazz than previous efforts, but in no way does it set any boundaries. These pieces may be a bit off-kilter, but there's no way to deny their beauty. Quite an intoxicating set."
Aiding & Abetting (US)
KEVIN KASTNING & CARL CLEMENTS – STRAND IN STRANDS (2022)
Artist: Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements
Album: Strand in Strands
Year Of Release: 2022
Both Kevin Kastning and Carl Clements are already familiar to our regular readers. Together they appeared on our pages when it was about the album Convergence II, created by the trio Kastning – Clements – Szabo. With the Hungarian Sandor Szabo, the talented American guitarist and designer of unique multi-string guitars Kastning has been doing joint projects for a long time. But Kastning’s collaboration with Massachusetts multi-instrumentalist Carl Clements also has a long history. The current album Strand in Strands is the sixth for this duo.
It is compiled from recordings that Kevin and Carl made at different times in 2021 and 2022, but at the same time it leaves the impression of a very solid work. Perhaps this is facilitated by the construction of the program, which begins and ends with two short, a little more than a minute of sounding, pieces with the characteristic names Resolution Pending and Pending Resolution, and between them there is almost an hour of sounding of large detailed compositions, where the musicians give the listeners the opportunity to evaluate their ideas and their ideas in detail. embodiment. Kastning plays three types of guitars from his extensive collection, while Clements, who you might remember playing flutes in Convergence II, this time plays two types of saxophones – tenor and soprano.
I met with the opinion that Kastning’s works are close to the new age style. This seems very strange to me. At the very least, Strand in Strands is mostly free-form jazz. Listen to, for example, Magnetic Anistropy or The Weibel Instability – for my taste, this is real free jazz, although quite peculiar. Pauses in the music of Kastning and Clemens play a role no less than the sounds themselves. And they both love long, viscous sounds, when the taken note is greatly stretched in time, and the sound dissolves into silence before the next one arises. Take, for example, A Question, Lingering, where, after the guitar intro, the sound of the saxophone floats in rarefied space, like an astronaut who has left his ship and ended up in outer space. The same can be said, for example, about Transparencies in Transition, a piece with a very lyrical opening from Carl Clemens, and from the point of view of a fan of guitar sound, for my taste, Kastning is especially good at Interstitial Inquiries. It is unlikely that the music of these musicians can be called a product for the general public, but the circle of fans of the duet of Kevin Kastning and Karl Clemens will certainly appreciate their new work.
Jazz and Blues (US)
Kevin Kastning / Carl Clements - Strand in Strands
"Both Kevin Kastning and Carl Clements are already familiar to our regular readers. Together they appeared on our pages when it came to the album Convergence II, created by the trio of Kastning - Clements - Szabo. With the Hungarian Sándor Szabó, the talented American guitarist and designer of unique multi-string guitars Kastning has been doing joint projects for a long time. But Kastning's collaboration with Massachusetts multi-instrumentalist Carl Clements also has a long history. The current album Strand in Strands is the sixth for this duo.
It is assembled from recordings that Kevin and Carl made at different times in 2021 and 2022, but at the same time leaves the impression of a very solid work. Perhaps this is facilitated by the construction of the program, which begins and ends with two short, a little more than a minute of sound, pieces with the characteristic names of Resolution Pending and Pending Resolution, and in between them - almost an hour of sound of large expanded compositions, where musicians give listeners the opportunity to thoroughly evaluate their ideas and their embodiment. Kastning here plays three types of guitars from his extensive collection, and Clements, whom in Convergence II you could remember from playing flutes, this time operates with two types of saxophones – tenor and soprano.
I met with the opinion that Kastning's works are close to the style of new age. That seems very strange to me. At the very least, I would classify Strand in Strands as mostly free-form jazz. Listen, for example, to Magnetic Anistropy or The Weibel Instability – for my taste, this is real free jazz, although quite peculiar. Pauses in the music of Kastning and Clemens play a role no less than the sounds themselves. And they both like long, viscous sounds, when the note taken is greatly stretched in time, and the sound dissolves into silence before the next one arises. Here, for example, is A Question, Lingering, where, after a guitar intro, the sound of the saxophone floats in sparse space, like an astronaut who left his ship and found himself in outer space. The same can be said, for example, about Transparencies in Transition, a piece with a very lyrical beginning from Carl Clemens, and from the point of view of a fan of the guitar sound, for my taste, Kastning is especially good in Interstitial Inquiries. It is unlikely that the music of these musicians can be called a product for the general public, but the circle of fans of the duo of Kevin Kastning and Carl Clemens will certainly appreciate their new work."
Square Magazine (RUSSIA)
"Stand in Strands" Kastning/Clements "The Story of a Lifetime"
STRAND IN STRANDS
Kevin Kastning & Carl Clements
THE STORY OF A LIFETIME
When I first heard the sound I thought that I had imagined it. It was an improbable one to hear in the middle of that bridge, the sound of a tenor sax, floating to me in faint recurring fragments through the bright empty air...
—Ralph Berton, Metronome Magazine (1961)
Ralph Berton heard Sonny Rollins beneathe the bridge playing alone to find a new sound. If Sonny had wanted to find a commercial sound, he would have made his search in the clubs like everybody else had done. Sonny was already a legendary sax player, but his music had been eclipsed by Charlie "Bird" Parker and John Coltrane. He wasn't searching for jazz, but a sound. A new sound. A "sound" that he could feel. Ralph Berton was also searching for a sound, because he wrote about music. So the music found its mark in him. That is important.
In music and in love, if you know what you are trying to accomplish, you aren’t doing it right. Music resists all efforts to control or contain it, especially real-time composition or what has been labelled "improvisation." Musicians make the best music when they are seeking and searching, and the worst when they are "auditioning" to impress the crowd. Most listeners can feel the difference, but the greatest music — that new sound — is out to change the listener and bring a new way of feeling to the world.
I'd say that what we hear is the quality of our listening.
This new album of new music requires a new way of listening to feel it fully, and that new listening may stick with you for the rest of your life. Kevin Kastning has been an instigator for this new sound for a couple of decades. I believe he was born to bring real-time collective composition into this world, so that we listeners could be transformed and learn to hear the music wherever it happens. Because, in the words of good listener Paul Simon, "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."
Improvisation is the ability to create something
very spiritual, something of one’s own.
Now, I am using a lot of Sonny Rollins in this writing, but don't get the wrong idea. I could have used Jody Diamond on the same subject, because she just wrote to me about the Rollins quote: "This is how I feel playing gamelan." You got that right! She worked for decades with Lou Harrison and has been a global gamelan activist for 50 years.
I knew if I wrote "Introduction" at the top of this page, readers like me would skip it and maybe say, "I don't read preambles." But I believe the mission of Strand in Strands is to change you, and now you have heard that from me and you can take it or leave it, but you have come this far and you know the changes in music have always been good, and you ain't never wanted to go back before, so you probably won't want to go back now.
They call me The Seeker
I've been searching low and high
I won't get to get what I'm after
Till the day I die
—Pete Townshend "The Seeker"
STRAND IN STRANDS
I believe Kevin Kastning was born to bring
real-time collective composition into this world.
The thing is this: When I play, what I try to do is to reach my subconscious level. I don't want to overtly think about anything, because you can't think and play at the same time - believe me, I've tried it (laughs).
Carl Clements responded to this Sonny Rollins quote:
I think most mature jazz musicians would agree with this quote, and it relates to a quote attributed to Charlie Parker: “You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” Hopefully you practice enough to develop an internal language that your subconscious can access. It seems right to me, but it’s pretty hard to pin down what exactly is happening in your subconscious. But I keep feeding it and hoping for the best.
Improvisation is really not so much remembering things. And this is what I do when I play. I forget things. When I go on the stage, I want my mind to be a blank, so that I can - things can come into me without my knowing where they came from.
Strand in Strands is not a jazz album. Carl Clements and Kevin Kastning are looking for that "sound" in a strand among strands of musical lines and eddies and whirlpools that live beneathe the bridge between Beethoven, Bach, Paganini, Mozart, Morton Feldman, John Adams, Henryk Gorecki, Charles Ives, and all the best of the new. All that improvisation and spontaneous creation was lost when written music became the product a composer could sell. Musicians were paid to play what was on the page. These new real-time Classical composers Carl and Kevin can explore a new form and discover a new "sound" in a public way. They are bringing back a tradition of exploring real-time what music there is in the moment.
There is a fascination with what is difficult, and the phrase "finding a new sound" can bankrupt a record collecting dreamer and might be grounds for divorce. But there comes a time when the soul demands a new song.
The Moirae, or Fates, are three old women who are charged with the destinies of all living beings, including heroes and heroines, and these destinies were represented by a string. They were called Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. The 1885 painting A Golden Thread, depicting the Fates.
THE MUSIC — SONG BY SONG
1. Resolution Pending (1:14)
There is a haunting sound coming from the room where tapestries are made. A river of windy sounds has interlaced itself with the "too many strings" guitar. Something is about to happen, and it starts with a sound as haunting as Paul McCandless in his yearly Winter Solstice gathering near Cincinnati. These are ghostly naïve sounds that seem to have come from some other multiverse and maybe don't yet feel at home.
2. Magnetic Anistropy (7:00)
Magnetic anisotropy is defined as the dependency of magnetic properties on a preferred crystallographic direction. It is the required energy to deflect the magnetic moment in a single crystal from the easy to the hard direction of magnetization.
Patterns are developing. Something new. Angles are explored and angels are dancing their best Merce Cunningham to this song. We peak into the room where the tapestries are made and see two of The Sisters: one spinning and the other weaving. There is the savory smell of onions and veggies steaming from the kitchen where a third Sister works alone. Questions are forming, but they may be rhetorical questions. We are in another world, or the world backstage where all the directions come from. The "play" tells the story of the beginning of a new life. Amorphous cotton or bags of wool in skeins cloud the air until one sister makes them into strands at the spinning wheel. There is physics afoot in this dance of hidden laws and tendencies in the soul of the sound. The Second Sister takes the strand and combines it with other strands at her fateful loom. Kevin attacks the strings with industry. He runs up the strings and then we hear hammering. Carl explores the air like a flock of butterflies aimless and beautiful. Body and soul are singing, as the loom is set up and The Weaver begins to weave.
3. A Question, Lingering (7:25)
What is going on here? Where are we going with this? Some chords or clusters question it all like the first questions of a newborn baby made articulate by this plaintive wail of wind from Carl. We are hesitating at the loom as interlaced patterns are tentatively explored, but the weaving has begun in earnest. The strands are flowing fast from Clotho the Spinner to the Lachesis the Weaver, and the loom moves with purpose as though some path was growing underfoot in response to a need of the foot to travel. We linger, but there is a limit to the lingering. Carl sings, "We are only free at the moment of choice!" But Kevin counters, "He who waits too long has decisions made for him." A restlessness developes. Carl explores first words in a new language combining nouns, and verbs, for the Magic in the sound. The heart begins to beat, and the driver of this vehicle takes his position in the seat of the heart. Good things come to those who wait, but he who hesitates is lost. The first paradox has formed in the fabric of a new life.
4. The Weibel Instability (6:16)
The Weibel instability is a plasma instability present in homogeneous or nearly homogeneous electromagnetic plasmas which possess an anisotropy in momentum (velocity) space. This anisotropy is most generally understood as two temperatures in different directions. Burton Fried showed that this instability can be understood more simply as the superposition of many counter-streaming beams. In this sense, it is like the two-stream instability except that the perturbations are electromagnetic and result in filamentation as opposed to electrostatic perturbations which would result in charge bunching. In the linear limit the instability causes exponential growth of electromagnetic fields in the plasma which help restore momentum space isotropy. In very extreme cases, the Weibel instability is related to one- or two-dimensional stream instabilities.
The fog of newborn feelings are replaced by the "terrible twos" as the sound begins tell a story. The Weaver has chosen techniques to make this tapestry in its own unique tale. Consciousness of consciousness spins in circles, giving Carl some self-conscious spacial modes, with funny little dances going up, and different two-step prances going down. He asks his questions with authority and passion. In the very high notes, there is ecstasy and grit. Kevin launches into the weave with some bold attacks with fast feet skipping the stairs in between, and new notes, and modes and mischief. This dialogue resembles a fine abstract weaver's masterpiece, as the strand maker spins faster and faster. It is only then that the father of all meaning in a tapestry is let into the room. His name is Baba! The father of purpose and meaning. Baba like Baba Ram Dass in his "Only Dance There Is," but this is fabric, so it is the world famous Baba Black Sheep here to give the story some detail.
Bah, Bah a black Sheep,
Have you any Wool?
Yes merry have I,
Three Bags full,
One for my master,
One for my Dame,
One for the little Boy
That lives down the lane.
—Tom Thumb's Songbook (1774)
5. Filaments, Interlaced (7:24)
Sure enough the black thread from Baba Black Sheep takes us straight to the heart. Baba has done this before and always adds heart and definition to the story of the tapestry. Colors are forming in the dirty brown of the wool, which isn't the only miracle in filaments, interlaced. The right pattern does a trick in the light, and that is all the color we see. Baba's black thread makes the colors pop out and that moves the viewer of this nacent tapestry to something just this side of tears. Baba makes it all more interesting. Without a little border of Baba's black, the colors would look muddy. This the black surrounds each hue with definition. That is the way it has always been done. We are watching and listening the birth of a life both in the music and tapestry, so long as the expert weave surprises The Weaver, and the musicians stay the hell out of the way and play what they hear. It is damn fine work and its beauty describes nothing short of what is the moment right now at the center of the soul of everything. This is like William Burroughs wrote of the "Naked Lunch," where every morsel is revealed in detail at the tip of every fork. Hang onto your heart, we are headed somewhere! The fabric and the music are haunted and haunting. Spirits fly into existence briefly and then they disappear everywhere in the room, and some of them melt into the fabric permanently giving it all a a shimmer and a glow.
6. Interstitial Inquiries (7:40)
More questions! Don't we know by now there are no answers to the fundamental question? Of course we do, but these interstitial inquiries continue as the tapestry, and music, and the story of a life grows from one stage to another. We have progressed tomid-life questions, that is why it is sometimes called a crisis at the crossroads in time. We question, and there is some hesitancy because now the end is in sight. We are no longer growing and taking shape. Some of the patterns have been established, and the decisions have been made. What that will mean to us is not yet absolutely clear. We have been barreling toward a full form, but now it becomes clear that nothing will lasts forever, and all things must pass. And we might consider going back to start again, but there is no turning back the time.
If you had just a minute to breathe
And they granted you one final wish
Would you ask for something like another chance
Or something sim'lar as this
Don't worry too much It'll happen to you
As sure as your sorrows are joys
And the thing that disturbs you is only the sound of
The low spark of high-heeled boys
—Steve Winrood / Jim Capaldi "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys"
7. Dialogues in Distance (5:46)
Time for introductions: Did nobody ask the names of the three sisters? They are Clotho, Lychesis and Atropos. They are the Moirae. They are The Fates. They existed before anything was born and before the Gods. To contradict The Sisters is the greatest of sins for the Greeks, and that is called Hubris. We are feeling a poignancy in the music, and the story of a life in the fabric has taken full shape and is heading towards a conclusion, though as yet there is a little time. The Spinner is where birth begins and birth continues through every new thing. The Weaver makes the arrangements of each Strand in Strands. The music has begun to sense the story now, and there is some feeling of surprise at knowing this "freedom" was only to deliver the song from another world, and we are only the vehicle and never the music, and never the tapestry, but only the vessel. This Dialogue in Distance knows that every distance is not near, but that every journey arrives somewhere and then the journey ends. Acceptance is the key if this music is to remain beautiful. Carl and Kevin come together in the realization there is no choice but to play through to the end.
8. Transparencies in Transition (7:33)
Familiar sights can be seen out the window of the sound as it moves in its chariot back to our home town. We have poignant, plaintive skeins of hope awaken the feeling that there may be some way to begin again, or something similiar as this. The food in the kitchen is starting to fill the room with savory, and the Spinner and Weaver begin to feel hungry for the meal after the tapestry is completed. Carl and Kevin explore with some nostalgia the beginning of their song where all the possibilities existed but nothing was certain. Some attempts at new and sweeter new song are explored. The wisdom is spoken: It would be better not to begin, but once begun it is better to finish. We hear sounds in the kitchen of chopping. The smell of fresh onion fills the air. The third Sister is preparing the final condiments for the meal, and they are chopped up last. So time is nearing a conclusion.
9. Intersecting Dispositions (6:37)
Dispositions are labels used to document, track, and report on the outcomes of calls and chats. There are two types of dispositions you can use to track call and chat outcomes: system dispositions and agent dispositions.
We have discovered mourning and hope. He that would learn would feel pain, says Aechylus. That longing can be heard in the music, and the resonnant visual in the story of the fabric. Baba's wool continues to flow, but he is nearly shorn. He is happy, because the wool that is now the story was heavy, but he wants to finish and go back to the field. The music now is a memory, but Samuel Beckett once warned in his essay on Proust: "The past is with us, heavy and dangerous." The effect is dispositive, but also intersecting. Will we come to the same conclusion together, or dissipate into a mist at the end of this life? There are no answers but only wait and see. Carl plays a little longer after Kevin has tapped out. He knows he can feel a little longer, but no one is allowed to mourn their own life.
10. Pending Resolution (1:23)
Nothing can stop the inevitable, and the big question here is whether we can reconcile to that knowledge in time to pass gently. There are warm broken chords, and baited breath, and a sweet tune in search of conclusion. The Cutter comes back into the room where the Spinner and Weaver look nackered and ready for their meal. And she brings a sharp knife to the tapestry and expertly cuts the fabric and the story is complete. The three of them admire this life in silence. Then together they take the tapestry to the Hall of Our Lives, and they hang it on the wall. That done, they clear the table and eat. Miraculously, Baba is rapidly growing another full body covered with black wool. Another story will begin after The Sisters finish their meal.
- Billy's Music Without Borders (MEXICO)
like Strand in Strands a lot! Fabulous playing, beautiful interaction, and
lovely sound. Fabulous playing, beautiful interaction, and lovely sound. The
duo's most fully realized and compelling release thus far.
- Barry Cleveland (US)
I checked out Strand in Strands and I like it very much. Especially the
Weibel Instability (very jazzy), the Dialogues in Distance, the Transparencies
in Transition (nicely breathing piece) and both the Resolution Pending and
You always come up with these cool titles for the songs!
Album art is very nice too!!
- Dieter Kaudel (US)
"Listened to Strand in Strands and really enjoyed the interplay between your guitar and Carl's saxophone. You guys are so connected, and the music so beautifully conceived that I felt it broadened my appreciation of jazz by the end of the album."
- Madi Das (US)
© 2022 Greydisc Records / Suigeneria Music [BMI]