Kit Ebersbach's re-examining our perceptions of reality: Untilities


This one's been at least a year coming. Amidst all the projects Kit Ebersbach and I have going together (which started with recorded Nick Kurosawa's debut EP), Kit's been passing me new compositions he's been working on almost nightly for years.

Earlier this year, we slipped his Moonbath album into the internet — hopefully you caught that one. (If not, there's always time to go back and dive in.)

Now, we present perhaps Kit's most thought-provoking collection of music to date, Untilities.

I know why Kit Ebersbach wanted to call this album Untilities. At least, let me explain why I think he chose this title: Utilities are useful services that we rely on every day. Essential to our quality of life and standards of convenience. Water, electricity, sewage, internet: all of these we could hardly live without. They keep our lives together. Untilities do the opposite. Instead of supporting or enhancing our modes of living, Untilities seek to break apart our reality, question accepted standards of living, and allow ourselves not the ability to live comfortably but the chance to feel enough discomfort to realize new truths.

Untilties describe the purpose of each track on this album: useful tools for re-examining our perceptions of reality.

The phrase “Fluctuating Planes”, however, feels like the best descriptor of this album. “The very music of existence” is what Kit has accomplished here with a collection of intelligent, strange, wayward, and subtly emotive compositions that feel like life itself: distant memories of childhood, bouts of existentialism, anxiety and adrenaline, the chaos nature breathes, invented narratives and random thoughts, weightless moments of zen.

“Yes to life in its totality”.

Most will tell you Kit’s done it all. Jazz clubs and R&B groups in 1960s and 1970s Hawaii (his earliest recording were with Gordon Broad, Lemuria, and Babadu); forming the islands’ first new wave band in the following decade, The Squids, whose ethos of “best quality under the circumstances” resonated with passionate, tongue-in-cheek youth searching for something different. The 1980s also found Kit and his left-field cohorts Robert ÆOLUS Myers, Nelson Hiu, and Frank Orrall messing with music and the mind through performance art, technology and improvisation with the highly experimental group Gain Dangerous Visions.

In the 1990s, Kit teamed up with advertising exec Lloyd Kandell to recreate the sound of exotica with Don Tiki, one of the earliest groups to reignite the world’s fascination with 1950s pseudo-Polynesian lounge music. These days, Kit supports some of Hawaiian music’s greatest singers, including Starr Kalahiki and Teresa Bright, with his playfully calculated, carefully exacting approach as an arranger and an accompanist.

If you asked Kit, he might tell you that these eight constructs of sound and structure (he resists calling them “songs”) grow from his insatiable impulse to explore new musical ideas and test new plug-ins, highlight oddball samples he’s found online or from some obscure vinyl record, and document sonic memories through slightly affected field recordings.

To my ears, this album is a collection of life affirming, life altering, and life-experience works by the artist. It represents an effort to break free from utilitarianism, subtly enducing a kind of Zen (if you allow it) where chaos brings stability. “Return to the place you always knew. Timeless, spaceless.” Each track is part of the continuum of existence that Kit has confronted with intrigue since his earliest days.

“Each day, to live one more day”.

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