CD review: Xenakis IX from Kuniko

First published in the Guardian on 23 April, 2015

Kuniko (Linn)

Whether architects like it or not, buildings will be scruffed up by the humans who use them,. Same goes for music, and Xenakis — architect as well supremely mathematical composer — loved the unruly energy whipped up by what he called ‘faithfulness, pseudo-faithfulness and unfaithfulness’ in rhythm. He wrote for percussion in a way that demands near mechanical perfection, but it’s that ‘near’ that’s the crux, that makes his dizzyingly intricate pieces so seductive. For her third studio album, percussionist Kuniko (yep, the kind of artist who goes by a single name) takes on the 1978 dance score Pléïades, and she treats its effervescent textures to a loose, sensual swing. Who knows what the spatially-obsessed Xenakis would have thought of her overdubbing the six parts of the sixxen, and it’s not a hugely muscular performance, but the delicacy and sway is enticing. Also on the disc is Rebonds, a 1988 percussion repertoire stalwart that Kuniko plays with a rollicking, merry touch.