Thuistezien 135 — 01.01.2021

No View, The Radio XXVIII
Kevin Shea
Hypocrisies of Improv


Kevin Shea is a very unique New York based drummer working in the fields of improvisation and free jazz, famous for refusing to play ‘straightforward’ beats or rhythms, no matter how diverse his collaborations may be. He could be compared to Dutch free jazz drummer Han Bennink, firstly as both employ incredible technique on their instrument although used in completely atypical fashion, and secondly, as both fully embrace and celebrate the absurdity of what they do, ading a significantly performative character to their music. In this manner avant garde drumming almost becomes a medium of experimental satire rather than just musical expression.
The piece ‘Hypocrisies of Improv’ is a video manifestation of Shea's solo album ‘Love Letter to my Drum Pad’, made entirely on drum practise pads during lock down. Apart from demonstrating the vast amount of practise and preparation needed for improvised music, it also expresses the absurdity of what last year has meant to all of us, each of us desperately struggling to cling on to the realities we once had. Notice the elaborate placement of microphones around the set, exemplifying his attempt at preserving a recording studio in his living room.

In Shea's own words on the piece: 'My comprehension of practice pads extends from the meditative approach to shakuhachi. In this style, the instrument is not performed or listened to for musical pleasure, but instead experienced as a gateway to prayer… as a meditative aid for performer and audience alike. I consider the practice pads as spiritual objects played to experience ecstatic epiphanies via exercise-based meditation. A massive/active quantity of notes is mandatory in order to achieve a vast space of endorphin-infused enlightenment. In order to reach the infinite abyss of epiphany, the performer must not think literally about sound as it is conventionally assumed via muzak disease. Paradoxically, filling sonic “space” (as it is conventionally understood by muzak masochists) with many notes is the only way to experience blissful limitlessness and spacious expanse. In another approach to shakuhachi, the player emulates nature... like the sounds of insects buzzing. The orchestra of insects also informs my practice pad sessions — it is one of many weapons used to destroy human being's physiological prescript toward psychical muzak abidance.'


About the series: No View, The Radio
The arts are taking a break. Theaters, museums, concert halls and galleries are closed. To a large extent, the art that is so desperately needed right now is inaccessible. Imagine being quarantined at home without films, without books, without music. Though we may not access the art, we can still think about it. The enforced rupture of this isolation can also be an opportune moment to reflect on and from, the arts. Every Friday for the upcoming weeks we will showcase original musical works by different artists, selected by Alex Andropoulos.