The IKB Ensemble is named for International Klein Blue, a kind of synthetic ultramarine blue patented in 1961 by French painter Yves Klein, which he used in nearly 200 monochromatic paintings. Klein was attracted to the color because he saw it as largely bereft of associations outside of sky and sea, and thus able to withdraw from the viewer into a kind of immateriality or intangibility. It seems fitting then that the ensemble creating this subtly developing long piece, recorded in Lisbon in February 2014, should take its inspiration from Klein’s color.
Although IKB is a large ensemble—it’s composed of thirteen members playing strings, reeds, brass, percussion, electronics and even voice and accordion—it steps very lightly. Much of its activity is spent exploring timbre outside of pitch—key clicks, bowed muted strings, unvoiced air notes, wordless vocalizations—at low volume. When a clearly sounded tone asserts itself in the mix, as it does on occasion, the effect is almost startling. Even as it builds slowly and almost unperceptibly to a crescendo, the music is meditative in the way that looking at a monochromatic painting can be meditative.