K. Freund: Hunter on the Wing Album Review


For Keith Freund, even the most cerebral compositions sound humble, sincere and homemade. As part of Ohio indie-pop duo Trouble Books, Freund paired stories of domestic life (along with bandmate and partner Linda Lejsovka) with clean sounds, muffled field recordings, and electronic chirps that felt deliciously subversive in the context of the early 2010s. twee explosion. While bands like A Sunny Day in Glasgow and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart won acclaim for recreating underrated sounds from the past, Trouble Books took a sharp left turn, combining noise music, ambient experiences and musique concrete with charming lyrics about stray cats. , do the dishes and houseplants. Just as Microphones songwriter Phil Eleverum began his career using unorthodox studio techniques to convey his love for the recording process, Freund and Lejsovka took solace in wide-eyed eccentricity, building a sprawling universe from their native Akron, Ohio, both with Trouble Books and as part of the regional community of acts like greenhouses, GS Schrayand others on Freund and Lejsovka’s label Bark and Hiss Discs.

In recent years, Freund has widened his scope to explore other styles and genres with an increasing number of projects: the self-proclaimed “Classic crappy DIYby Lejsovka + Freund, the brooding, ECM-adjacent jazz of Aqueduct Ensemble, and the steaming loneliness of Lemon Quartet, still finding the same warmth and fun as in his time with Trouble Books. On his second solo album (after that of 2011 Constant comments), Freund continues to explore new ground within noise, jazz and concrete music, with an enthusiasm for the soundscapes of the American Midwest that is unique to him.

Presented as a collection of nine “sound objects” in the rich tradition from electroacoustic pioneer Pierre Schaeffer, the album combines tape loops, field recordings and instrumental improvisation in a rapid assemblage of smooth moving parts. “Aire 3” opens with a mixture of accidental noises as a floating synth enters and the room builds around sparse notes from a cello and an upright piano. Although seemingly in the same key, each part seems visibly designed to act independently; amateur keyboards sound more like ringtones than jazz or classical music. Other tracks like “Nothing, I’m Just Listening to the Moon” and “Hunter on the Wing” orbit small pieces of tape on a loop, while melody and harmony slowly emerge from the background. The first track is reminiscent of the dark, cinematic compositions of Bing & Ruth and Harold Budd, while the second relies more on collected audio snippets and saxophone overdubs to flesh out an otherwise minimal track.

While Freund is certainly a competent performer, it’s his ear for arrangement and artful use of found sounds that really shines. Since his early days with Trouble Books, when crackling recordings of wind chimes complemented Rhodes chords, synth arpeggios and introspective lyrics, Freund has regularly asked the question: what would the experimental music of Emeralds, Black Dice and first Oneohtrix Point Never? if it is imbued with the self-reflection of the Microphones? Moving away from narrative songwriting, Freund captured a similar intimacy in delicate sound collages. Tracks like “Aire 2” and “Wet Flag” draw their heat from projector coils, thunderstorm recordings and bent-circuit electronics.


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