Moving from minimalism to free jazz for inspiration, this new album by Eleh is inspired by the later period of John Coltrane’s career. Although elements of these two pieces have been utilized during recent performances, these studio versions are described as “magnifications” of those live sketches. Far from being jazz, this is not the notes Eleh is not playing but the synthesis of new notes and frequencies from the standing waves and intervals emanating from the grooves on the record.
While previous works by Eleh have been inspired and dedicated to various minimalist composers, "Reflections on Living Space" uses Coltrane as its starting point. While there is very little in common with the Coltrane piece referenced by Eleh ("Living Space," recorded in 1965) in terms of style or approach, Eleh instead gets into the heart of Coltrane’s performance. In particular, the deep, spiritual resonances that run through this period of Coltrane’s music are mirrored in Eleh’s composition. A plateau of constant tone starts to break down into a complex interplay of different frequencies which brings to mind the harmonic and group interactions of Coltrane’s playing on its own and with other musicians.
Coltrane’s original piece brims with the same controlled, haunting beauty that permeated albums like A Love Supreme or Ascension and these same qualities were carried over into the compositions of La Monte Young and Terry Riley. For Eleh to go back and single out Coltrane like this makes total sense; to take the original inspiration and run with it again to see what comes out. This is return to this source makes more sense to me than going back to pre-minimalist composers like Anton Webern. The classical tradition offers something in terms of technique or something to rebel against, jazz offers something to feel.
On the other side of The Weight of Accumulation, "Spring Mornings 2012" finds Eleh returning to the less drone-focussed style explored on more recent releases. The effect is at its most dramatic with Eleh approaching the sort of dynamics I would more readily associate with Carsten Nicolai but with a very different angle taken on its delivery. Nicolai’s clean, mechanical sheen is replaced with something that is closer to a scientific recording of circadian rhythms or radio waves from space; fast, seemingly regular phenomena appearing amidst the slowly drifting background signal. There is an organic quality to this that is unique to Eleh. I wish I had a PA system to play this through because this strikes me as the sort of piece that should be played on as large a scale as possible.
The Weight of Accumulation is another strong release by someone who is easily one of the strongest composers working in electronic music today. It moves in a very different way to Coltrane but it hits all the same buttons for me.