The KINETICS ensemble came into existence in 2014 when I decided to work on material from the Habitable Exomusics project together with 2 then students from RMC, Adam Pultz Melbye on bass, and Anders Vestergaard on drums. It seemed pertinent to include students in the project, and I am very happy that I did so.

The Habitable Exomusics concepts were constantly present in the entire composition process, as well as in my way of approaching the improvised zones in the music. This loyalty towards a number of concepts, and the trying-things-out nature of operations, made me think about the ensemble activities as an applied theory process (for better and for worse), even though I would never normally recommend anyone to make music using such an approach. I imagined the ensemble activities forming a core in my project methodology: the creation and rehearsals being directly linked to my project method.

I later found out that the word “method” comes from the Greek METHODOS, which means “a way or PATH of transit”, or “the path one follows to reach one’s goal.” I like the word PATH for the combined physical as well as mental pictures it evokes. And given the metaphorical suggestions in the Habitable Exomusics, terms hinting at interstellar places, and possible journeys there, I realised that THE PATH was an apt name for the music we were making. That was only later on in the process; in the beginning I used the temporary ensemble name Just in Time.

As described in the theoretical Habitable Exomusics Analysis text (see the Analysis page), I had ”identified a number of structural tendencies in my own work, regarding which definable post tonal material structuring principles I had used the most. For each of the general level principles, I tried to achieve an overview of the various possible (or relevant) ways in which each of the principles could be applied. In this way, the map created, showed not just what I had previously done, but also a number of theoretically possible kinds of musical grammar, which I still hadn’t created music from.”

So here I was, with a map of my unmade compositions. The “map” showed a series of pitch organisational principles, as well as a number of rhythm organisational concepts. I quite simply paired these dimensions, and decided which pitch ideas were to meet which rhythm ideas. Or, to be more exact, I pondered to some extent over which pairings would work the best, or which ones I would achieve the most from making.


During the rehearsals with the ensemble, as also mentioned in Habitable Exomusics Analysis, I realised that certain rhythmic concepts were going to have a prominent role in not just in the compositions, but also in the way we worked on internalizing the material. I also discuss some of these rehearsal methods in the Analysis text.

The collective rehearsal work most prominently focused on:

  • Counterpoint in the material and in the interplay (that the different elements, composed or not, were to be extremely aware of each other, no matter how strict or seemingly ignorant they were in their structures).
  • Consistency of flow in the music (that the flow of the compositions was still present in the improvisations).
  • Elasticity of the beat, (blending a strong clarity in the syncopations with a very broad beat, and making sure that “broad”, did not mean “blurry”).
  • Deepening the dynamic perspective in the music (working on having many dynamic levels present simultaneously – the notion that when certain actions are loud, other actions can also be very soft at the same time).
  • Making strong transitions with an obvious narrative and directionality when needed (and daring to make sudden ending transitions from something into nothing, as is heard on many of the tunes, including Pull Up, Tattarrattat, Cous Cous, etc.).
  • Reaching maximum energy levels at minimum dynamic levels (making things gain importance not by amplifying them, but by bringing everything down to a level where a mezzo forte can be a crucial event, without losing any of the energy flow).
  • Letting the music breathe naturally even when being densely constructed (by working very intensely on total internalization of music and rhythm).
  • Preserving the poetic dimensions of the music even when the structures were overwhelming.

The rhythmic implications were a source of constant discussion during rehearsals. I remember talking about how specific compositions could be bent slightly, more in the direction of several very diverse references such as 90’s hip hop, samba, Howlin’ Wolf, Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Conlon Nancarrow, New Orleans, New England, Milford Graves, Steve Coleman, Per Nørgaard, Roy Haynes, as well as several references to the back catalogue of my band - Anderskov Accident, since 1998.

Some of these artist names form a natural contextual backdrop to the music on the Kinetics album. There are of course other related artists than these, some of them even more closely related, structurally speaking. Certain concepts in the music, not the least some of the ways the odd meter materials are structured, are obviously similar to some tendencies on the New York contemporary jazz-and-beyond scene. However, it was always my intention to make use of a more transcendent way of dealing with complex information than what I have heard in the music from the NYC scene, in this millennium. I wanted the complexity to be none of the listener’s concern – or need I say “none of the listener’s problem”. I didn’t want the listener to wonder what meter we were in – which is something I personally have had issues with when listening to most odd meter-based music from NYC over the last decade or so. For me, "transcendence" (or rather, culturally dependent notions of what constitutes the transcendent), is a key word when discussing the differences between my vision of music, in comparison to the current NYC scene.


Very early on in the rehearsal phase, when I decided to play a low profile debut concert with the project, little did I know that Danish National TV would choose to broadcast that concert in its entirety. The entire show was aired on DRK in July 2014, and a number of excerpts from it can be found on the Extra Material page. This of course gave us exactly the time pressure we needed to get much further with the material than we thought was possible on such short notice and with such challenging material.

However, I decided that although the concert had been broadcasted publicly, the recording of it would not be released on video – primarily because I felt it was obviously audible that we still had some things to learn with regards to this material (which did not prevent the Danish newspaper (Politiken) from giving the concert 5 stars in its review). I ended up thinking of the broadcast as a documentation of a very early phase in a body of work that would need more time to mature. That is also why the videos are, in my opinion, not central to the artistic output of the project, but instead function as extra material.

We had plenty of time to work on different musical issues between the broadcast and the studio recording date we had half a year later, which I also think is detectable when comparing the two. I find the studio recordings more dynamic, more elastic, with a better general flow – dare I say: more musical.

Had we had a year more before the recording, perhaps I would have shared more details about the structures in the music, with the musicians - like in the Analysis text I later published. However, it was my conviction then that the music would sound better if they received information about the underlying concepts more on a need-to-know basis rather than being told the whole story every time. I have not regretted this choice, also because it is an artistically motivated choice, not a political or moral one, but seen in retrospect it can of course be discussed whether it was the right thing to do.


Another issue that presented itself when such a specifically nerdy (structure oriented) project as this one was broadcasted on TV, was that I hadn’t yet thought much about titles, metaphors, or mental spaces for the audience. The music in this project was originally a result of my contemplation on the musical grammar in my musical universe – which is not the most obvious place to start when inviting an audience into the music.

My titles had been chosen quite fast, just in time (sic) for the concerts. I had chosen that almost all the compositions involving symmetric structures were to have names with symmetries or repetitions in the name – mostly palindromes (Stop Pots, Snap Pans, Tattarrattat, Rat Star, Qaanaaq, Wolf Flow). This made some sense as a classification, but very little sense as a way of conveying what I really wanted to express, and raised the question of which considerations were to be shared with the audience and which were not.

I used a great deal of time wondering about how to deal with this schism: having a very structurally born body of music, grown to become a vehicle for expressing much more that just that, and searching for a way of sharing it with the world so that the mental picture of a structurally focused approach does not come between the music and the listener.

I was asked in an interview in the TV broadcast (see link in Extra Materials) about my thoughts on this music heard from the listener’s perspective, and I said among other things:

“Habitable Exomusics is a metaphor for music being different from the music we know with our own kind of gravity, metabolism, or amino acid balance. I am looking for an exotic, differently sounding music, that is habitable, meaning not just suited for listening, but open to the interpretations of the musicians. Music that invites the musician to express his or her feelings, yet simultaneously explores the boundaries for what kinds of music e.g. rhythm we as human beings can relate to – and on which levels.

I have so far mostly played with musicians of the same age as myself or older, who generally are familiar with most of my back catalogue – often they were even part of it. Playing exclusively with younger musicians was very interesting and quite new to me. It forced me to consider how to pass on some of my experience from, for example, my rhythmic investigations to a new generation, to a degree where they could react and contribute to the music in their own way – and do so intuitively. This can also serve as a reality check for what this music must be like for the audience when you hear it for the first time.

Concerning my hopes about, or expectations to the listener’s perspective, I hope that the listener experiences going on a journey through the music. Whether that is a journey to habitable planets in other solar systems, or an inner journey is not the point. I also feel quite strongly that many of my ideas about the music are not for the listener to try and understand, but rather a frame granting the listener many possible paths. Just like many of my rhythmic ideas invite to being heard as several different kinds of groove, I hope to express what I need to express, yet in a form where I do not impose my feelings on the listener.”

A solution to these considerations seems to have come about later on in the process, without me finding out exactly why, except for the obvious saturated internalization. In the KINETICS live concerts after the album release, shortly before writing this, I happily started to clearly feel the emergence of a more casually, outreaching approach to conveying the commonly human message of music, with this kind of complexity in a live situation. A kind of "showing it, not knowing it" approach that reopened the music to me – and seemingly to the audience – to a larger extent than I had imagined possible. And it became clear to me that in this ensemble, the titles of the compositions are the very least important things to share with the audience.

I hope (and feel) that notions like flow, consistency, swing, transcendence, clarity and directionality of feeling are among the main qualities the listener experiences in this music. I am still wondering if there is anything meaningful to say outside of the music in a KINETICS concert situation. Time will tell. Hope to see you out there.


Kinetics (the Path) – Habitable Exomusics Volume I – was recorded at The Village, Copenhagen, January 2015. Released 26 June 2015 on ILK.

Kinetics - the Path

- the first album in the Habitable Exomusics trilogy