Jon Mueller Papercuts (with Jason Kahn)

[Crouton; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: avant-garde, improvisation, musique concrete, free jazz
Others: Telecognac, Raccoons, Pele, Collections of Colonies of Bees

Papercuts is the combined efforts of percussionists Jason Kahn and Jon Mueller. With subtle electronic processing and various grades of handmade and commercial paper, Kahn and Mueller devote 18-minutes to exploring the "movement and malleability" of paper, shoveling deeper into more esoteric forms of percussive experimentation. Although the first few spins barely caught my attention, I slowly became aware that my initial averseness toward the music stemmed from a seemingly pre-conceived (and certainly cultured) notion that the music was supposed to entertain me, amuse me. I expected dramatic rips, tears, and crumples of paper, pasted together to form a highly-textured mess of noise. Instead, Papercuts is an exercise in self-control. What easily could've turned out to be a gimmicky run-through of exchange-value bombast and tripe, Papercuts allows the subtle, tangible qualities of paper itself to dictate where the music goes (or doesn't go), without the intentional efforts of the musicians to use paper as some sort of replacement for acoustic or electronic percussion. This is a world of difference and thus provides a respectable template in which Kahn and Mueller forego their musical training for the sake of material liberation. It's discreet, delicate, and rewarding, especially for those more daring listeners. Papercuts won't change your life (nor was it designed to), but it will make you appreciate the simple pleasures of material sonority itself, while reintroducing a bit of Dada-esque uneasiness that is much too absent in the avant-garde.

1. Papercuts

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