Dan Kaufman, of the band Barbez, has recorded a quiet, haunting album of rock songs after the astringent poetry of Paul Celan that is admirable in its unpretentious literariness. Celan, who was born in Romania in 1920, saw both of his parents killed in the early part of World War II and later, while living in Paris, embarked on a singularly torturous poetic path into the heart of the atrocities of that war. Fiona Templeton recites poems spanning Celan’s career over Kaufman’s quiet compositions, which, along with the usual instruments (bass, guitar), deploy theremin, vibraphone, and marimba. It’s a no-frills affair—and all the better for it.
Force of Light