The solo acoustic bass recording is of course one of the litmus tests in gauging the level of artistry of the jazz-free jazz practitioner. Today, such an outing from Pascal Niggenkemper, a bassist who has been an important member of adventuresome ensembles for some time now. Look with Thine Eyes (Clean Feed 324) gives us a full CD of his solo excursions.
The results are singular and fascinating. Pascal sometimes uses objects to alter the sound of the instrument, what you could call prepared bass. They give us a variety of sounds depending on how they are employed, of course, and the materials involved. So we get, for example, a fuzzy sound as Pascal bows over strings that apparently have been inter-leavened with metal objects. These are not gimmicks, for sure, but rather ways of extending the sonic-timbral qualities of the bass.
Their use is musical as is the total result of imaginative artistry that is Pascal here. His bowing is excellent, his pizzicato as well, and he gives us 13 segments that show true originality, free and new music excellence, and variety. “Extended techniques” are the order of the day, very successfully so.
The wealth of sonics is extraordinary and in the end it all comes through as music that gets your ear, and bass playing of a high caliber.
All bass fans and bassists should get this one if they can. Avant enthusiasts in general, too.
A fine effort, one of the best and most original of its kind.