Yair Elazar Glotman learned to play contrabass the way that classical music demands: practice toward an intuitive understanding of performance. As always, though, his work is critical of what we're taught to remember music as being, and Études is an aggressive exploration of his instrument free of its pre-established role. Études is the material sound of an instrument as well as the sounds it makes.
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The double bass is an instrument that has struggled to escape from the world that created it - the ruthless traditionalist institution of Classical music. Jazz was its ray of hope, but that soon formalised into something not too far away from the Vienna schools. Yair Elazar Glotman is a child of this system who realised that you can actually do whatever you feel like doing, not just playing endless Verdi.
The results are fantastic. The monstrous rumble and naturally dry scratch of the instrument are amplified by unorthodox mic placements, realigning the timbre to remind you that in fact this is just a big piece of wood. But pure wood sounds lovely and Glotman knows it. That’s not to say there’s no melody here, with each ‘Etude’ at least containing one drone note, with others bringing rising harmonics and even some discernible progressions during the last 2 on side A. The ‘Oratio Continua’ duo are worthy of a mention too, the fearsome singular plucks gathering weight with each new strike.
A lot of it reminds me of Sunn O))) & Boris’ experiments on ‘Altar’, in particular the slithering, harsh world of first track ‘Etna’. It shares the same technology-enhanced altering of timbre as Ian William Craig on ‘A Turn of Breath’ but of course, none of the actual sounds. Robin, while briefly passing by to flip my sandwich, said that “it’s like Mohammad but beautiful”, and I suppose he’s right. Luscious doom tones for bored ears.
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