John Edwards Volume

Many of the best solo instrument improv discs sound like top-notch abstract electronica to my ears. Celebrated British bassist John Edwards put his vast timbral arsenal on display over the course of nine improvisations. Opener "Matter" instantly jumps out of the speakers in a riot of convulsive 3-D smacks, tumbles and creaks that would make any concrète composer envious. Track three, "Sprung," introduces itself with what sounds like a time-stretched jazz bass solo, becoming increasingly vigorous and jazzy, and then inflected with bouncing and buzzing overtones. "Saddle" is leaner and sparser, built on deep, woody percussion sounds, flickering harmonics and ultrasonic dolphin-whistle sounds, all the while feeling like some imaginary remix Tod Dockstader did of Harry Partch in the '70s. "Battery" begs questions about whether wah-wah pedals and varispeed were employed, and the rest of disc is bursting with sounds you wouldn't ever expect from an untreated acoustic bass. While the disc exhibits the myriad colours of electronic music, Edwards' approach to the bass is irrefutably human — full of aggressive physicality and hyperactive athleticism. (Psi)