Friday, December 21, 2012

PascAli: Suspicious Activity

Pascal Niggenkemper (bass)
Sean Ali (bass)
Suspicious Activity (Creative Sources Recordings; 2012)

Pascal Niggenkemper has been on my radar for the last year or so, thanks to some fantastic albums as leader and co-leader. He's shown calm skill as a bassist and a unique sense of imagination as a composer.

With Suspicious Activity, he has teamed with fellow bassist, Sean Ali, to craft twelve short sets of improvised yet well structured pieces for prepared bass. The results are intense and superbly performed.

The track names might be arbitrary and sometimes funny/ironic, but it's the emotion and soundscapes that the two musicians conjure which will really capture your attention. "Endpin" refers to the standing spike at the bottom of the bass or cello. I'm really wondering if its this that is creating the sound or not. But either way it's very interesting to see what they have chosen to do with it. It's an opening piece that describes the creative spirit on display over the next 40 minutes.

Percussion is in the air on "Chinese Mask," with one bassist taking on the pounding and plucking in rhythmic time. And the other advancing in a darker lyric fashion. "Machines" feels like typewriters and sewing machines in battle. It slowly builds and becomes faster and faster, each musician finding space spinning a similar tale on fierce sportsmanship.

"Kissing" is an extended piece in which both bassists seem to have turned into muted trumpets with staccato breath movements. It's very eerie and exciting. The same could be said for "Witch Tricks," as it climbs a high mountain of sound. The basses are scratched, screwed and stretched to far and deep ends, that at times becomes a combination of short wave radio and saxophone harmonics.

Suspicious Activity is an intense session. It's the album that only you might enjoy. It's the album that will annoy the neighbors, eliminate the bad people from your party and influence people. Suspicious Activity is the beautiful document of the vocabulary of sound and space. Highly Recommended.

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