Goh Lee Kwang & Christian Meaas Svendsen – Gibberish, balderdash and drivel
Goh Lee Kwang & Christian Meaas Svendsen – Gibberish, balderdash and drivel
CATALOGUE NR: NKM014CD/LP
BARCODE: CD 7090040250261, LP 7090040250278
RELEASE DATE: 2nd March, 2018
FORMAT: CD, LP, digital download, streaming
RECORDED: Minut Init Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Feb 2016
MIXED/MASTERED: Goh Lee Kwang, March 2017/Christian Obermayer, July 2017
PRODUCED: Christian Meaas Svendsen
Gibberish, balderdash and drivel consists of three nonsensical musical conversations between Malaysian nylon guitar player Goh Lee Kwang and Norwegian bass player Christian Meeas Svendsen.
e album was recorded in an independent art gallery close to Kuala Lumpur with a handheld device. It tells us the story of the rst encounter between two different mindsets, nationalities and generations trying - and totally failing at - making any sensible dialogue with their respective musical languages.
Still, the music ows unobstructed, blissfully ignorant of the lack of mutual understanding. It is like water running through rough terrain. It doesn’t pause, it doesn’t quarry or question why. It just moves on to the next thing, then the next, then the next. e music sporadically taps into graspable and palpable ponds of understandable gestures and musical interplay, but doesn’t dwell or linger. It doesn’t dig deeper once it has hit a spot, or analyze the current moment to draw more out of it. On the contrary, the dialogue here seems to be one of no-intention. Any meaning is created only by our habitual convention of action and reaction, of recognizable patterns.
Further still there is a musical integrity at play which stands rm on its own ground. It’s just that the music on this record does not try to make sense of it all. e music is talking about trivial things - about the weather, about the noise from the city, about... whatever. No conclusion needed. Just listen closely and ask yourself: does your skin connect you or separate you from the rest of the world?
Gibberish, balderdash and drivel is released on CD, LP and digital services. e CD and LP comes with a custom made pencil which can be used to draw your own artwork on the cover.
Goh Lee Kwang – nylon guitar
Christian Meaas Svendsen – double bass
Download from subradar
The encounter between the Malaysian Goh Lee Kwang (a nylon guitar specialist) and the Norwegian Christian Meaas Svendsen (a talented jazz bass player) was really unconventional. The producer label Nakama Records organized the meeting that took place in Minut Init Art Social, an independent art gallery near Kuala Lumpur. The goal is the clash and the coexistence of two different approaches and musical languages, two different geographical origins and generations. Behind the project was the awareness that the uncertainty of this relationship may originate a musical interpenetration, whose cross-breeds would be coherent and sensitive. We don’t know if in the first track, “Gibberish”, the reference to sannyasi meditation of the same name (a practice to escape from an active mind) was really wanted. It seems a kind of liberating present tense made of nonsense sound emissions and concatenations of improper or usually not considered languages. Beginning with this suggestion, the recordings (taken on direct connection and with a portable device) seem quite nervous, often dissonant and with a poor attitude to searching for a syntony. In our opinion, this is the first step the artists take to move out of their own self-awareness and reject their personal obsessions, their crystallized styles and their own comfort zone. In “Balderdash” the weaves seem more meditative, but the attitude to highlight the senselessaspect of these musical progressions is always the same, as in “Drivel”. According to the authors, the last track is the best, thanks to its “reserved and poetic” spirit. Trying to search for some coherent narration among the cuts is meaningless: this was not the goal of the two musicians, who aimed to unravel themselves between many elements, details, hints and shadows, more or less insisting expressiveness and contortionist knowledge. They don’t give in to temptation to create some sophisticated structures that would be some theoretical or interpretative covers. Sound fragments pile up in the work and someone may object that these are simply interpretation processes, typical of the more complicated and conceptual expressions of jazz. But a broader breath crosses the three jam-sessions and the correspondences arising seem to be launched from the very intimate refuse of ordinary musical structures.
Christopher Nosnibor - Aural Aggravation
The title sounds like a Radio 4 quiz, or perhaps some selections for ‘Call my Bluff’. The accompanying blurb outlines how the album consists of three nonsensical musical conversations between Malaysian nylon guitar player Goh Lee Kwang and Norwegian bass player Christian Meaas Svendson, and describes it as ‘the story of the first encounter between two different mindsets, nationalities and generations trying – and totally failing at – making any sensible dialogue with their respective musical languages.
Success and failure are relative, of course, and one may contend that there’s no success like failure. It’s in the disconnect between artistic vision and the material realisation that unexpected creative outcomes emerge. The three pieces – I would probably hesitate to describe them as ‘compositions’ given that they are, in effect, haphazard jumbles of notes played over and across one another – are indeed sonic babble. But it’s still just freeform jazz to my ears. And for once, this isn’t a complaint or criticism.
The description reminds me of those days when every conversation feels like a misfire, and you miscommunicate with everyone you encounter. Try as you might, you never connect as intended. A jovial quip lands as an insult, a reply to a simple question leaves your interlocutor nonplussed and you realise you’ve misunderstood or misspoken, or otherwise just gabbled a stream of random bollocks for no apparent reason. You question whether the fault lies with you, or the world at large. You burn with shame. You want to hide away, an avoid people for a while. I say ‘you’; I mean me, of course, and as usual.
It takes a certain – nay, special – ability to separate and absorb any shame or embarrassment to place a document of those misfires and disconnects out into the public arena with the free admission of failure. But then again, failure in intent does not necessarily equate to artistic failure. And the disjointed, discordant jumble of notes on the three pieces – respectively entitled ‘Gibberish’, ‘Balderdash’, and ‘Drivel’ are entertaining and stand as art in the sense that they document a collaborative creative process.
At the heart of Gibberish, Balderdash and Drivel is an exploration of language, and the apparent obstacle of linguistic disparity. I’d long assumed -and believed – that the language of sound transcended linguistic boundaries. But on delving into the development of this skewed collaboration, I realise that while this may be broadly true, it is not a universal truth, and am reminded that context counts for a lot.
But the language itself matters. Dialogue doesn’t have to have explicit meaning or linear cohesion to convey something. It’s as much about interpretation as intention: the receiver / listener will inevitably bring their own perspective and one man’s throwaway nonsense is another’s serious art. The accompanying pencil for the owner to draw their own art into the blank white cover is a nice touch, which adds to the interactivity. The listener is inevitably – and incontrovertibly -implicated in the process, and this inclusion only serves to accentuate this point.
And for all its self-effacing flippancy, Gibberish, Balderdash and Drivel stands as a work of art. The very word selection is telling. In dismissing its very own existence as lesser, it does so using elevated language, indicative of an advanced and expanded vocabulary, while also adhering to the rule of threes. This is not by any means an illiterate work. Quite the contrary, in fact: Gibberish, Balderdash and Drivel is a celebratory work.