Australian born Berlin based composer and double bassist Mike Majkowski makes music with plenty of space that often tends to feature extended techniques and highlights resonance and decay. Over the years he seems to have been increasingly drawn towards electronic sounds, with 2017’s Days and Other Days finding him sharing the double bass with analog synthesizer, percussion, piano, vibraphone, samples & field recordings. He has worked with the likes of Tony Buck and Ethiopian legend Hailu Mergia, and in ensembles like Roil with Chris Abrahams, Blip with Jim Denley and Lotto with Lukasz Rychlicki and Pawel Szpura. His latest cassette is Between the Seasons, released on Polish label Endless Happiness, where he has left the bass and the conventional instrumentation behind and is focussing instead on electronics. It’s a fascinating listen, long form hypnotic electronic pieces where the rewards come via Majkowski’s minimal ingredients and the pieces durational nature. We took the opportunity to ask him some email questions
Cyclic Defrost: How long have you been living in Berlin for? What prompted the move? What’s it like for experimental music there at the moment?
Mike: I moved in 2011 after making a couple of prior trips to Europe, looking to broaden my experience and connect with a larger international network. Berlin is an active place for experimental music. There’s lots going on, with various sub-scenes and musicians from all over.
Cyclic Defrost: You’ve been interested in the place where electronic and acoustic intersect for quite a while, what prompted the idea to ditch the acoustic side of things?
Mike: It has all happened quite organically, a gradual and natural progression from acoustic to electroacoustic to electronic. Although I’m currently exploring the use of only electronic instruments in a solo context, I don’t feel as though I have left the acoustic side of things.
Cyclic Defrost: When you think of electronic music you tend to think beats, textures, density, tension and release, but Between the Seasons is very much not that. It’s this weird droney thing that feels like it keeps moving, but never really seems to get anywhere. I find it quite hypnotic – even soothing. Is that your intention?
Mike: Between Seasons is very much informed by my acoustic double bass work. My intention is to make music that feels right to me. I’m happy to be able to share it with with others and for others to have their own experiences with it.
Cyclic Defrost: Are you performing this live? Does this mean no double bass?
Mike: Yes, I am performing this live without the use of the double bass.
Cyclic Defrost: Your solo music tends to be characterised by stillness, space and resonances, can you tell me why this is an area of interest for you?
Mike: It’s what feels natural to me. It’s where I feel at home. It’s also an area where I can really zone in on the fine details of the sounds I’m working with, which I love doing.
Cyclic Defrost: I saw you play in Melbourne a few years with Hailu Mergia, which just seeing him in the flesh was a huge highlight for me, but then getting backed up by you and Tony Buck seemed so unexpected and was just the icing on the cake. How did you get involved in touring and recording with him? Can you tell me a little bit about what that experience was like for you?
Mike: I got involved thanks to Tony recommending me as bassist. It was a great experience and lots of fun playing in the trio, learning Hailu’s music and focusing in on the groove.
Cyclic Defrost: Can you tell me a little bit about Lotto? I really enjoyed your album VV a couple of years ago. I had real trouble categorising it, which I quite like. What do you enjoy about this project?
Mike: Lotto is a trio I’m in with two musicians based in Warsaw: guitarist Łukasz Rychlicki and drummer Paweł Szpura. I enjoy how we challenge ourselves musically, whether it’s in concert or in the studio. Together looking for new ways of moving forward and exploring various means to produce and develop our music.
Cyclic Defrost: What does the future hold for you?
Mike: Several projects coming up this year, including concerts with AB Sextet (with Mazen Kerbaj, Magda Mayas, Sharif Sehnaoui, Raed Yassin and Tony Buck), Lotto, Splitter Orchester, duos with Robert Piotrowicz and Boris Baltschun, as well as solo electronics. I’m taking part in a new electroacoustic ensemble work by Anthony Pateras entitled ‘Pseudacusis.’ We have performed the piece once so far this year, and still have three more performances of it coming up. Also producing some dub music along with trumpeter Nick Garbett, for a project led by Nick. Apart from that, working on new recordings with collaborative projects such as ‘illogical harmonies’ with Johnny Chang, and continuing the development of my solo work – composing, recording, exploring sound.
You can find Between The Seasons here.