My latest solo bass review only dates from end February, and here we are again with a new list of new albums.
Benoît Cancoin - Instants Minuscules - Solo Pour Un (Blumlein, 2013) ****
The first album in this overview is presented by French classically trained bassist Benoît Cancoin, who offers us four pieces of around fifteen minutes each, all played arco, not in a studio, not live, but in front of selected friends. The first, "Plume", is fully bowed starting slowly yet gaining full and almost monotonal increase in intensity, an offering to the newly born Plume, the daughter of his dancer friend Laure, yet the minimalism leaves room for more explorative parts, rough and sensitive built around silence.
And it this exploratory journey that makes Cancoin's music interesting, hard to grasp, and hard to predict even, switching between long minimal and hypnotic repetititions and cautious sonic excursions with lots of empty space to more dense moments, yet despite the avant-garde approach, feelings remain at the heart of the music.
Antonio Bertoni - Half Hour Drama (Leo, 2013) ****
France-based Italian bassist Antonio Bertoni, offers us something of a completely different nature. Inspired by the German avant-garde artist Joseph Beuys' movie "One Hour Drama", in which for one hour a bottle is filmed and nothing happens at all except for the breathing of the cameraman.
Bertoni's music is luckily of the same boring nature, but it is equally a statement. For approx. thirty-six minutes he bows his strings with relentless energy, never once slowing down or changing his approach. And what may seem as monotonous, is anything but, quite to the contrary, it becomes a mesmerising experience of raw energy and physicality and endurance, which leaves the listener almost as exhausted as the artist when the final notes ring.
Coti – Solesulsuolo (Antifrost, 2013) ****½
And this is also something else. Performed by Milan-born Greek musician Constantino Luca Rolando Kiriakos, in the meantime known as Coti K. He does not play bass, but his self-created instrument, the "Oniscus harmonicus", a seven-string instrument tuned in semitones.
The result is nothing short of amazing. The artist uses lots of overdubs and collates his music with an incredible sense of drama and storytelling. Every sound is part of a longer narrative and atmosphere, in which anticipation is created with every note, a tension built for new events to unfold.
Coti K is not a jazz musician, but he has been a member of several pioneering electronic bands. There are no electronics here, with the exception of the attention given to a high quality sound and careful layering of the recorded material.
The end result is extremely beautiful, moving and sad.
Marco Serrato - Seis Canciones Para Cuervo (Alone Records, 2014) ****
Marco Serrato, the bassist of the Spanish doom metal band Orthodox brings us an amazing solo album, a kind of concept album on the lives of a crow, as its title "Six Songs For A Crow" suggests, further illustrated by the beautiful cover art, a painting by Javi Pessoa. As you might expect from this context, the atmosphere is not really joyful or hopeful, but drenched in powerlessness and doom. The first track gives nothing more than scratching the strings of the bass, and even if it sounds irreverent on my side, it is just a fact, and one that evocates the crow's attempt to sing, yet nothing but hoarse croaks result from it.
On the second track, Serrato offers us an overdub of beautiful arco, playing the theme of Hindemith's double bass sonata, over a backdrop of eery high level bowed sounds. The third track is again with overdubs of various dissonant takes, inspired by Ligeti and Xenakis, and its title "the crow devours the eyes of its father", has an oedipan ring to it, full of paradoxical feelings of hunger and disgust. On the longest track, "Las Dos Caidas De Cuervo", the music develops hesitantly and slowly, with plucked and bowed sounds alternating in a universe of silence and loneliness, gradually growing in volume and power, only to be calmed down by distant piano tones turning the bass into high-ringing flageolets until out of nowhere trumpet, drums and heavy piano chords crush the bass sounds under an avalanche of sound, an idea take from Simon H. Fell's "Compilation", with whispers taken from Black Sabbath's "Children Of The Grave".
A more than interesting album, and as you have understood, not for the faint of heart, but fully on the right side of good taste.
Inspired by Ted Hughes and the unborn, you can listen and buy from Bandcamp.
Jon Mapp - The World Will End With A Bang (We Are K Records, 2014) ***
British electric bass guitar player Jon Mapp serves us a virtual experience of the end of the world, also using overdubs to bring his art. Again, this is not jazz, nor rock, as Mapp's musical universe is broader than genres.
As for the end of the world, it is not here yet. Mapp's music sounds even joyful and light-hearted for such an event, with lots of calm, gentle and open-textured compositions, with guitar-like sounds in the higher register setting the melodic theme. Overall an interesting exercise by a technically gifted musician, but we could have done with more tension and power.
Listen and download from Bandcamp.