Daniel Klag – Reality and Self (Chill Mega Chill, 2015)


It’s always a pleasure to have a new Daniel Klag release in the library and, of course, on the site as well, as all of his records are well defined and deliberate conceptual enterprises with brilliantly executed instrumentation that languishes in an evocative middle ground between Drone, Electroacoustic and Ambient, frequently with deep references and allusions to literature and philosophical musing tied up within them. Well, Reality and Self should come as no surprise to previous listeners as it takes more of the precise piano he’s been working with and throws us into the deep end of reflective introspection and sonder.

Broken into two 15 minute suites designed for “drifting off into thought”, each half focuses on one of the two aspects: “Reality” contemplates our surrounds, the material universe in which we find ourselves within, whilst “Self” is a more internalised gaze, the inwardly peering side a little afraid of what it’ll uncover. In “Reality I: Sigil” we find ourselves easing ourselves into things gently, the piano and its various states of processing becoming introduced to us alongside the eked out flute accompaniments in soothing and methodical exactness. It doesn’t feel seeking, not yet, the music seemingly content for the information to filter itself to us instead, our quiet time drawing our surroundings in. Its counterpart “Tenebrae” increases this feeling of settlement and almost acceptance of environmental immersion as it deepens its trance, its edges losing clarity as the pianos fall further away to the growling processed waves of the backfield, sinking into a darkening haze of textural multiplicity that quickly swamp the senses and overwhelms the mind.

The Self Suite is a little different but continues to deepen the same idiosyncratic explorations we’ve already established, this time taking something of a more proactive stance as we fall into personal exploration, ironically portrayed as a slinking into heady obfuscation and strengthening drone coverage. “Paradem”‘s sporadic piano tinkles sparkle with infinite fragility over the chasmic void of reverb and restless drone shufflings, faint vestiges of identity hovering over and tentatively plumbing the sensitive but deep darkness of our innerself, seeking that elusive literary reference of its namesake: an object revealed only to those who seek it. What discoveries and acknowledgements of our own being are not precisely tackled, however, as closer “Lifer” winds around; soft fugues descend in the waning exhaustions here coupled with an ascent back to conscious activity as the asynchronous piano tolls and their shadowy reverbed drone counterparts fall back into line, our vision clearing and materialising with a dim apathy.

In just thirty minutes our minds are given an opportunity to wander alongside Klag’s music, to be as disconnected, peaceful and, if we so choose, as contemplative as well. Lots of Ambient records seem to present themselves as being entities designed to let the listener drift off into meditative thought but few really do it with specific purpose and even less do it well; Reality and Self is the perfect album for old souls looking to find a momentary peace and thoughtful corner in their lives.