Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Tomorrow there will be serendipity if you've never heard of Gabriel Kahane and if you're a regular reader of the New York Times. A lengthy feature story detailing the projects and talent of the young New Yorker will run in the newspaper's highly regarded Arts section. It will feel blinkingly strange and there will be real tinges of coolness happening as well. The son of famed conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, whose work includes time leading the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Gabriel Kahane has a voice rich beyond his years and an ear for melody that is astute and advanced. A part of the article in the Times - written by Steve Smith - was used to exhibit that advancement when his father was quoted as saying, "Gabe, this is unbelievably difficult," in reference to a concert commission that he was trying to learn and that they'll both be participating in this April weekend at the Alice Tully Hall in NYC. His music is an exploration of possibilities, with multi-instrumentalists having their work cut out for them, for pushing the idea of a pop song into that of the birds, into that of a Carnegie Hall - bouncing off of itself and discovering actions as it's acting in other ways, perhaps never sounding the same way twice no matter how strict or disciplined the proceedings are supposed to be drawn up. There's a general mission of inserting sounds where they can make the most impact and Kahane's ear isn't overly influenced by or flooded out due to his talent. It doesn't get over-used or abused by cluttering, making the songs that he writes feel water-logged or unnaturally busy. Instead, the sounds and the ideas invite themselves in politely, even wiping their feet on the welcome mat so as not to track all over the carpet and the guests that have already arrived at the party. It's a sublimation of parts, where they go from hard and fast ideas and immediately become part of the vapor effect of the soft and entrancing feel that Kahane exudes. There are parts of his voice that take on a more gruff Antony Hegarty, without the copious number of thoughts and wonderings about death, dying and the black, black, black great beyond. Kahane's music feels as if it should be an installation in a museum, surrounded by marble flooring and by acrylic paint strokes frozen into their own important expression. It doesn't feel precious or untouchable, just nice and something to give a deep gaze or to stand back from and let it all take over with a closed up couple of eyes.