If there’s one thing I’ve learned through exposure to three CDs by J.C. Mendizabal–two as Kyron, one with Radio Free Clear Light–it’s that from the moment you start one of his works, the experience is going to be interesting at the very least, likely challenging, and ultimately rewarding. Perdurabo, his latest out under the Kyron moniker, plays with the possibilities of rhythm and repetition. The 12 tracks here all have a certain bounciness to them, a pattern set from the first track, “Suscipio,” which is also about the most user-friendly one here. A melodic phrase with a vibraphone/kalimba tone winds around and around itself while light glitchwork fills in the background. It’s catchy and appealing. With the concept in place, Mendizabal contorts and reconfigures his basic idea across the rest of the tracks; in doing so he makes us consider not just what we’re hearing but what we’ve already heard and how it relates. The tonal familiarity is there, but the new forms force us to re-think the concept. For example, a memory of the pattern eases out from under a scratchy electronic rasp in “Itineris,” but our ability to hold that memory is tempered by the arrival of new sounds and Mendizabal’s slow removal of that element. And so it goes, with the listener re-engaged by each new track but still trying to piece things together. Is the metallic, clanking percussion in “Fas” following the same pattern as the carrier-tone sounds in “Viator”? Are there echoes of that first track in the speedy, elastic glitch of “Tumulus”? It’s that odd sonic deja vu working its way into our heads again while, at the same time, Mendizabal’s smooth use of noise and glitch confronts us with the “is this music?” question. That’s part of the allure of Perdurabo–its ability to make us think, but in the same moment infect us with a touch of the beat. Mendizabal’s musical equation holds up quite nicely across repeat listens. Perdurabo is a Hypnagogue Highly Recommended CD.
Available from Black Note Records.