DunkelpeK “Fire’s Hush”

It takes me a while to wake up. Almost every day, as I blink into the blueish-grey morning, I momentarily wonder where I am. My cats stretch and collect themselves, turning to me with an eagerness that I don’t share but primally understand. I sit up, turn off the box fan, and peel myself out of the hill of blankets I managed to build as I slept. The cats notice my movements and hop to the ground, curious as to why I’m moving so slowly. I blink a few more times, run a hand through my hair, and begin to stack my vertebrae into an upright position. At this point, I can recognize my bedroom and a muffled instinct kicks in: the day has to start. As I walk downstairs to feed the cats, who’ve started weaving between my not yet responsive legs, the space we inhabit together comes further into focus. This is my home — I am here, we are here, I know which floorboards will creak as I lumber towards the cabinet they’re staring at; we know what’s about to happen.

The room didn’t get bigger, my eyes adjusted. 

The familiar can often feel foreign. There are days when I blink more than usual, the surroundings feeling a bit more elusive. Sometimes I lay in bed a bit longer, stunned by the jarring realization that I have to exist in this space. I have to do it all again. Most of the time I can shake it off, but the ghost of that feeling hovers over me, tickling the back of my neck, daring me to turn around and face it. When I do, there’s only space. “I am nothing but potential,” it says.

There’s a moment in the first minute of “Threshold,” the third track of DunkelpeK’s arresting, brilliant album Fire’s Hush, where a resonant tone from the scraping of a cymbal begins to evaporate. As the initial tone fades out, two more separate tones — perhaps from guitar feedback, perhaps from some other metallic resonance — fade in. It’s an acknowledgment of space, a moment of purpose, an assertion that contours exist. The tones dissolve into a dissonant chord that breaks apart and reassembles itself over the remainder of the track’s four minutes. They coalesce into an organic drone that feels at once intimate and alien; there’s something there that’s simultaneously recognizable and completely foreign.

The room didn’t get bigger, my eyes adjusted.

Fire’s Hush is a product of Nava Dunkelman and Jakob Pek’s unique understanding of the restricted nature of immeasurable space. The infinite isn’t actually infinite; every time things feel out of reach or beyond one’s grasp, some element exists to give it shape. The musicians work in an improv setting, looking to tackle the idea of presence: if we can harness a moment, it can exist forever. 

The video presented here for the track “Inner Eye” perfectly captures DunkelpeK’s sense of boundaries within the infinite. The musicians are in a room, stationed by the instruments they know the best. Each approaches their respective medium with an open mind. Percussion doesn’t mean downbeats, guitar doesn’t mean chords. Eyes are open, minds are expanding, sounds unfold. Discovery is the mode. The album drifts but is never stagnant. Melodies appear and disintegrate, rhythms coalesce and burst.

The room didn’t get bigger, my eyes adjusted.

As I feed my cats, I boil water for my french press and watch them eat for a couple minutes. As I sip my coffee I fully come to life, understanding that I am in a new space. I was somewhere else before I woke up and I am in an even stranger place now. We follow a prescribed routine but it’s never exact. I wake up and remember that I’m the same person doing the same things, but each day is new. 

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