Leaving behind the most obvious question of why an Australian improvising experimental musician is releasing his debut cd on a Portuguese label, double bass player Mike Majkowski’s solo disc is a study of extended bass technique. With five pieces clocking in at 55 odd minutes, Majkowski, a member of Sydney’s impressive big band Splinter Orchestra pushes his chosen instrument into some really unique directions. In his hands, the bass sounds alternatively like squalling birds, thanks to the dexterity of his bowing technique, to almost synthetic textures. It’s a testament to his desire to extend the range of his instrument that this collection serves as a document of his challenges to form and technique. At times vocalisations such as whistling, even wailing accompany his skitterish gestures, however more often there’s a stark silence surrounding each movement. There’s little musicality here, no groove, instead the music extends texturally, or perhaps in intensity, his gestures filling the space, working with density instead of any kind of narrative development. There is real inspiration here, and despite his range of techniques there’s a certain austerity in his approach. With an improvised approach to sound, only the title track features overdubs, and even then they only appear to add density to the music.
A study of the possibilities of double bass, Majkowski has little interest in benign concepts like musicality, the sounds presented here are the results of his experimentations with texture and form, captured once, at a brief moment in time, and you get the feeling that although his albums out he’s just kept on moving.
Bob Baker Fish