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Monday, May 1, 2023

Pascal Niggenkemper - Blòc (Subran Musiques Aventureuses, 2023)

By Martin Schray

The German-French Pascal Niggenkemper is considered one of the most interesting and adventurous double bass players in the conflicting fields of improvised and contemporary music. He works both as a soloist and in various ensembles, constantly developing his musical philosophy and his musical language. Therefore, he uses preconceived ideas and notated music as well as freely improvised parts.

Niggenkemper calls Blòc, a box consisting of six albums, a statement. The individual albums present him as a bandleader who is looking for new concepts and new creative ways. This is evident in the instrumentations of the albums, but also in his view of his instrument, which has clearly evolved since his outstanding solo album Look With Thine Ears. For Niggenkemper, this new view manifests itself by working outdoors in the countryside (meaning outside cultural centers), in working with poets, in discovering local instruments, and in exploring the multiplicity of the languages and culture of France. All of this can be found on Blòc’s albums.

For Niggenkemper’s work on his instrument this means that he’s less interested in the classical sound of a double bass; he is more interested in alienating it and thus expanding the instrument’s playing possibilities. To do this, he still uses all kinds of extended materials: tone woods, small motors, funnels, tambourines, sticks, etc. According to him, however, the sounds sometimes arise out of movement, almost by chance. The interplay of sound and material then gives rise to forms that can be used consciously in the progress of the improvisation, usually as anchor points from which the improvisation then moves to or away from. Although all of these sounds are acoustically generated, from time to time this sounds like electronic music.

Bloc compiles the highlights of Niggenkemper’s music from 2017-2022. The box is limited to 120 copies, it’s available here:

You can also order the albums individually from the same website. 

We will be reviewing the discs throughout this week.