The work of Roland Kayn occupies a unique place on the shelves at OBLADADA. The gold and black box of 2017s A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound sits separately from the rest of the music in its own little place. It’s sits next to the hard drives and it’s like a piece of alien technology, some weird inter-dimensional blueprint, projecting almost 14 hours of a bizarre abrasive form of nirvana. Whilst Scanning, another 10 hours, plots a varied flight through the same terrain. But here, differences in intensities create huge shimmering peaks and superb psychedelic voids.
Alongside these absolute 5-star monsters, Kayn label Reiger-records-reeks now ran by his daughter Ilse, has recently released works that the German composer constructed, but hadn’t released before his passing in 2011. Many of these throw more light on his methods, working practises and ideas. Inevitably, what’s left in the vaults by any artist might be of passing interest, rough sketches for work realised better elsewhere and possibly, stuff that’s just not very good.
So, A Pan-Air Music, built in his home studio in 2003, comes along with no expectation, Kayn having already impressed more than much else we’ve heard. But this single piece, just short of 90 minutes long, unbelievably again, is completely indispensable.
Proof, were it needed, that Roland Kayn is nothing short of miraculous.
A Pan-Air Music gathers huge banks of sonic silt as it rocks and pulses in a huge episodic void. The music continually expands into an ever-changing surface, littered with cavernous reverb, vocal smudges, creaking ships rigging and machine pulses that even organise into rhythmic threads. The music tumbles around so much that it pans out into the universe that birthed the mechanised squealing of Kraftwerk’s debut. At the same time, it could be an extension to an unheard Taj Mahal Travellers set, some weird smudges from Zweistien’s Trip • Flip Out • Meditation, the incredible Kontakta album or an Autechre set or countless others. It’s relentless, a voyage flying through that zone where genre become intergalactic shapeshifting porridge.
The piece, after screwing with your perception of time, in its final 10 minutes moves to the very edge of silence. Bells and metallic spirals slowly grow into crackles and vectors of droning feedback, towards some kosmic industrial accident. When, finally the speakers fall silent, it’s that usual Kayn quandary – what have I just heard, and how can I follow that?
Very quickly, this new album feels like the most lysergic tripping music Kayn ever made. His work consistently does something to our brain, a unique form of elation. The surface of his music can sometimes feel a little confrontational for some, but A Pan-Air Music is by far the most accessible work he’s made. For anyone looking at a point of entry to his daunting discography, this is the stargate you embark from.
A Pan-Life Music is available digitally here