The last time I saw Mike Majkowski, it was last year and he was playing bass alongside legendary Ethiopian piano accordionist/ keyboardist and bandleader Hailu Mergia. With Tony Buck (The Necks) on percussion it was an intimate and quite remarkable show featuring three amazing instrumentalists at Bonnets Lane in Melbourne. I’d been aware of Majkowski’s work for a few years thanks to a couple of experimental solo releases, beginning with his debut solo album of extended bass technique Ink On Paper, and 2015’s Bright Astonishment of the Night, again a solo bass recording that focussed heavily on resonance and decay. Seeing him perform in Melbourne it was fascinating to see him play in a much more musical guise, demonstrating the breadth of his musical interests. Though that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given his frequent collaborations, including in Sydney’s Splinter Orchestra, and ensembles like Roil with Chris Abrahams, Blip with Jim Denley and Lotto with Lukasz Rychlicki and Pawel Szpura.
This album draws on the notions of resonant frequencies of acoustic frequencies such as we heard on Bright Astonishment of the Night, yet he’s also integrated more electronic sounds. Along with his trusty double bass he’s also utilising analog synthesizer, percussion, piano, vibraphone, samples & field recordings. It’s highly immersive electro acoustic music. Glacial long form synthetic constructions, with drifting loops and a bottom end throb. It’s drone music that hums with an electrical energy, a subtle complexity. Whilst at times he comes within earshot of difficult frequencies, there’s a real control exerted over each composition, so you never feel like the brooding ambience could tip over into difficult noise. Despite the length of some of the pieces Majkowski is always keen to develop his compositions, integrating new sounds so they subtly evolve over time until where they began is only a vague memory. His use volume, density and duration here are unparalleled.
This is evocative, yet menacing music. There is no bluster here, it’s creeping, it’s uncomfortable yet it’s beautiful too.