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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tom Wheatley - Double Bass (s/r, 2018) ****

By David Menestres

Double Bass is the aptly named solo LP from Tom Wheatley, who, surprisingly, plays double bass. And he plays it very well.

The A side is a single twenty minute unnamed track that starts with a hyper aggressive almost stuttering idea that repeats over and over again, thrashing like The Stooges, until abruptly it decelerates for a brief rest stop before attacking the listener again. The trashing gives way to a beautiful moment of silence that comes before something (horsehair from the bow?) is dragged up and down across the strings produce small percussive sounds. The track descends into a bowed section (with some kind of string preparation) that recalls the stuttering opening. And that’s only the first half of the track.

The B side of the album is three shorter tracks that continue to show Wheatley’s deep ability to cox unusual sounds out of his prepared bass. Each explores a single theme, working it just as long as necessary. The ideas are economical but well fleshed out. There is a suitable cacophony of sounds being coxed from Wheatley’s bass.

The vinyl sounds lovely and is well recorded by James Johnston and mastered by Peter Walsh. The jacket design is very minimal, comprising only “schematic diagrams” by Wheatley, one on each side of the jacket, and one on each side of the label.

A solid listen, recommended to those who enjoy the more outside areas of free improvisation (and to those who don’t).