senufo edition # thirty eight: kunsu shim “LOVE”

“LOVE” is not easy listening.
You can hardly find anything in this music which could relax you or provide a space for sweet dreaming.  There are no new techniques used nor are there new sonic or acoustic achievements.  The expression of sound is reduced to an extremely small scale.  After listening to this music for a short time it begins to reveal itself and stays in front of you, as if being undressed.  It seems like an architectural work but there are no audible structures.  In “LOVE” I wanted a space, an essential space, a space of absence.  A space of music being possible.Perhaps like that space of the soft beating pulses of my partner’s heart that I’ve listened to for so long. You could listen to “LOVE” just as you could listen to the pulses of your partner’s heart.

LOVE (for two percussionists) was composed in 2004 by Kunsu Shim and recorded in 2012 by Nick Hennies (drums) and Greg Stuart (sustained sounds).

it’s echoing softly.
the softness is the same, whether far or close.
the same single space is divided into two spaces.
the softness is duration without direction.
half light, half darkness: a shadow
a being nothingness.
a soft voice and an even softer voice.
a breath and its echo and the pulse of the silent room.
a tender absence of love.
a question, “what is love?”
무엇이 “부드럽게” 반향한다.  부드러움이란 멈와 가까움의 동시성이다. 두개의 나누어진 공간이면서 하나인 공간. 부드러움은 지속이다. 중단없음. 어둠과 빛을 동시에 수반하고 있는 반만의 빛, 또는 반만의 어두움. 그늘이다. 있고 없음. 작은 소리와 더 작은 소리. 숨과 숨의 반향. 공간의 맥박. 사랑이 부 재하는 사랑.  나는 사랑이 무엇인가 묻는다.

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Letterpress sleeve printed by Ben Owen / Middle Press. Numbered edition of 280 copies. OUT OF PRINT

Kunsu Shim was born as the son of re-migrants from Japan on September 15, 1958 in Busan, South Korea. The ocean provided the adolescent Shim with the experience of spatial openness and expanse. This notion can be seen later as the basis of his production. He twice won the first prize in a competition for young composers in Pusan, at age eighteen and nineteen respectively. In 1985, Shim arrived in Germany, where he studied composition with Helmut Lachenmann in Stuttgart (1987-88). Around this time, he met Gerhard Stäbler, with whom he lives and collaborates today.  Shim moved to Essen to continue his education until 1992 with Nicolaus A. Huber at the Folkwang Hochschule. Huber’s “simple, but strong” language attracted Shim. It was then, that his style moved in a new direction – last, but not least through an increased interest in New Music from the U.S. (notably John Cage and Morton Feldman), the visual arts and literature. He found his own characteristic language with the composition orchester in stereo mit fünf sinustönen. From 1994 to 1999, he belonged to the composer’s group “wandelweiser”, with whom he shared basic aesthetic positions such as silence and simplicity. In 2000 he founded “EarPort”, along with Gerhard Stäbler, at the Duisburg Innenhafen as a center for the presentation of and discourse about New Music and for interconnecting the arts. Kunsu Shim resides permanently in Germany.

Nick Hennies is a percussionist and composer from Louisville, KY who has lived in Austin, TX since 2003. His work is primarily concerned with the exploration of seemingly conventional sounds. Utilizing traditional playing techniques, rapid repetition and often high levels of volume, his work opens up breathtakingly complex and immersive sound worlds from so-called “simple” sounds. With a particular focus on the vibraphone and “unpitched” percussion instruments such as the woodblock and snare drum, the music exposes unheard acoustic phenomena and provides a deep listening experience that explores and articulates the psyche. Hennies also maintains a rigorous national performing schedule and is a member of a wide array of groups including The Weird Weeds, Waco Girls, the Austin New Music Co-op, and Meridian, a percussion trio comprised of Hennies, Tim Feeney and Greg Stuart and has regularly performed and recorded the music of Arnold Dreyblatt, Alvin Lucier, Jürg Frey, Radu Malfatti, Ellen Fullman, Jandek and others. His work as both performer and composer can be heard on Senufo Editions, Quiet Design, Sentient Recognition Archive, Accidie, Full Spectrum, L’innomable and others.

Greg Stuart is a percussionist whose work explores various alternative percussion techniques, including sustained friction, gravity-based sounds via small grains, sympathetic vibration, and electronic instruments. Since 2006 Stuart has collaborated extensively with the composer Michael Pisaro to produce a large body of new music for percussion comprised of pieces that focus on the magnification of small sounds through recording and layering and, at times, in combination with field recordings. Stuart also currently works with the percussion trio Meridian (with Tim Feeney and Nick Hennies) and with computer musician Joe Panzner. He has performed at MaerzMusik (Berlin), The Stone (NYC), The Wulf (Los Angeles), Gallery Kapleica (Ljubljana), Elastic Arts Foundation (Chicago), New Music Co-Op (Austin), Philadelphia Sound Forum, Sushi Performance and Visual Art (San Diego), MacPhail Center for Music (Minneapolis), and the Columbia Museum of Art among others among others. His work can be heard on such labels as Edition Wandelweiser, Gravity Wave, Erstwhile, Cathnor, Accidie, and Senufo Editions.

More on Kunsu Shim here.