John Eckhardt Xylobiont

Sometimes solo instrument improv records can be too introverted for their own good. While the player is offered the ideal space to explore their sound, sometimes it ends up coming off as a study designed for fellow players of the same instrument. Perhaps the reason why I enjoy John Eckhardt’s recent solo bass offering is that it rarely sounds like the work of a single instrumentalist at all. Eckhardt instead provides enticing fields of sound full of subtlety and mystery. A note on the back cover situates his playing alongside Ligeti, Xenakis and Feldman but to my ears it more often bears the imprint of various strains of abstract electronica. The insistent pulse of "Noo Bag” even evokes minimal techno, whereas some of the long blossoming harmonics on other tracks are reminiscent of the remotest frontiers of ambient music. Eckhardt alludes to an interest in these forms in the liner notes. The darkly reverberant space in which it was recorded certainly provides much for Eckhardt to work with and does make things quite diffuse. One could make the case that this constitutes a phantom duet of sorts, rather than a strict solo recording. (Psi)