Herbert - bassooka/music for one to sixteen basses (Aziza Music
1003) Solo contrabass recordings used to quite a rare thing, it would
be difficult to list a dozen of them, but here goes - Malachi Favors,
Peter Kowald, Barre Phillips, Dave Holland, Joelle Leandre, William Parker,
Kent Carter, Mark Dresser, Michael Formanek, Paul Rogers, Barry Guy and
now our Austrian born/NY based friend Peter Herbert. Mark Dresser has
done a fine job of writing the illuminating liner notes, which discuss
the historic perspective and difficult endeavor of over-dubbing up 16
basses and stilling telling a convincing story. The brief opening track
"King Dear" has dense layers of tapping, rubbing, bowing on different
angles of the strings to create a cosmic buzz. "Verloren" has austere,
floating layers of bowed basses which move in waves from one bass to numerous
bowed and buzzing lines which are filled with immense suspense. "Filmrequiem"
is in 8 parts, each one developing a different mood or vibe. "Part 1"
is all creepy, wooden sounds - two basses to bang on and two basses to
bow, there is much intricate interweaving of parts, various layers which
answer each other or connect in different places. Often Peter will play
a melody on one bass and the tap other bass(es) like a percussion instrument.
"Part 2" produces a wealth of eerie effects by adding levels of twisted
sounds, coaxed from different approaches to bass manipulation - some recognizable
sounds, some not, but all fascinating and evocative. On "Part 5", I swear
I hear flutes in the mix, perhaps it is the an echo of the bowed bass
higher frequencies, hard to tell and quite mystifying. The title of this
piece seems most appropriate, since each part evokes some many visual
images, perfect for film music. One section sounds as if some is tap-dancing
on the bass!?! "Two Hands" is for two basses, both softly plucked and
tapped, elegant, warm-toned and soothing. "Gamelan" is for 11 basses tapped
with thin wooden sticks and does have gamelan-like sound and an exotic,
hypnotic vibe. "Feld-Weg-Rot" is another hushed, suspenseful, melancholy
layer of bowed basses which buzz together like a swarm of bees on a lazy
Spring day. The only non-original tune found here is Miles Davis' "Nardis"
which is for solo bass and it is filled with passion and grace. The last
piece is "Neige Grave V" for six basses and it is a mesmerizing and sort-of
funky groove which has the bouncing beat of percussive bass banging and
a couple of dancing bass parts on top - an infectious groove and perfect
way to commence this wonderful solo bass(es) offering.