Published Oct 04, 2018Experimental, percussion-centric composer Eli Keszler again does his best to confound and titillate the human ear on his ninth solo release, Stadium. A preternaturally attentive sculptor of sonic minutiae, Keszler hones in on textural detail with a degree of precision seldom heard outside of electronic music.
Yes, every sound on Stadium was recorded live and unprocessed. Also a prolific and celebrated creator of sound-based art installations, finding the foreign in the organic is a big part of Keszler's conceptual hook. While it's an impressive feat, and his compositions are very intelligent and presented with plentiful talking points (especially for an instrumental album), what it all sounds like is what really matters; the intellectual angle isn't going to be a factor for the average listener, nor the prolonged listener.
Stadium is low-key skittering modern ambient jazz noir. To give space for Keszler's supremely controlled torrential percussive fluttering, the arrangements are sparse. A travelogue of subtle field recordings thickens the frequency spectrum, breathing and pulsing behind the songs. What sound like harp and horns flit between the beats and smatterings of slinky bass and forlorn keys bubbles in and out with the logic birdsong, or a city street late at night.
Heavy on mood and light on melody, Stadium plays best as background music that you're instantly and repeatedly rewarded for tuning into, but it does little to demand the listener stay engaged, content to let you visit this strange and fascinating world at your leisure. (Shelter Press)