The second half of Spencer Zahn’s contemporary opus, Statues, was actually completed before the first, working out of his home studio in Kingston, New York. Recording voice memos of his Yamaha CP-70 electric piano, Zahn collaborated with Tyler Gilmore AKA BlankFor.ms in capturing vignettes of the material as tape loops, then sharing them with a network of musicians to explore further. The resulting arrangements are rich, restless, and reflective, inspired by the transportive productions of Jon Hassell and Harold Budd. Echoing the spirit of their work, these seven compositions unfold in hybrid tapestries of performance and post-production, texture and movement, form and freedom, forever in flux.
Zahn encouraged his collaborators to maintain their own voice while improvising on the recordings. With nothing set in stone, a healthy amount of editing to the improvisations shaped the compositions. Hints of synthesizer seep between silences; fragments of different sessions emerge and overlap; horns are reharmonized, then set aloft like paper lanterns; tunings wobble up or down an octave, embracing the malleable, the liquid, the hope springing eternal. Zahn’s vision is fluid, but grounded by heart: “Emotionally, this music is a longing of sorts.”
Construction-wise, Statues II is a puzzle, pieced together from fluctuating moments, minds, and tonal centers, accruing a sum far greater than its parts. Its title, too, mirrors a fascination with the sculpted, with the fleeting made permanent: “A statue is a monument to a thing that was. As a musician, you’re always seeking a new sound. And mourning the change of what came before.”
Statues II out November 17, 2023 on Cascine.