Duboc, Benjamin – “St. James Infirmary” – [Improvising Beings]
Two long solo concert bass meditations recorded in the Saint-Martin Church in France offer sparse, minimal, yet still abstractly opposing approaches to sonic experimentation. The title piece is his take on the traditional tune, a somber and introspective exploration of the different harmonic qualities of different intervals inlaid in the melody of the song. Very clear and precise tonal execution with each note standing prominently on its own as he takes a straightahead approach to the melody and then breaks it down piece by piece. The second track named after the church is more abstract, experimenting with timbre through extended bowing and percussive techniques. The sound sometimes appears electronically treated as he settles into a broad wavering drone of overtones but it remains all acoustic. The second piece is markedly more minimal with a lot of silence and both pieces might fare better in a mix, however I think they stand strong on their own, with silence acting as an appropriate contrast to the strings’ aesthetic purity.