Review Summary: Murderface: That's my bass playing hand!
Pickles: Uh oh... there goes the band...4 of 4 thought this review was well written
The bass is often the most overlooked instrument in music. Many people view the instrument 'easy' or 'not important'. Tom Jenkinson, better known as Squarepusher, is not here to convince you otherwise, but he might as well while he is at it. Solo Electric Bass 1
is an 850 limited copy CD containing a full 40 minute show Jenkinson put on for an audience in France with just a six string bass and an amp. While that may turn off many listeners from the get-go, Solo Electric Bass 1
is a solid record that showcases everything the bass can do without any fancy electronics while simultaneously opening listeners ears to the virtuoso Jenkinson truly is.
Everything about Solo Electric Bass 1
is stripped down and simple. From the cover that bears a striking resemblance Loveless
, to the track names consisting of just 'SEB' and a number (which don't follow any particular order), and with not an effects pedal in sight-- the music. Picking up the guitar at the age of 10 and training himself in various styles, Jenkinson is no stranger to his instrument. Also with a gigantic discography of critically acclaimed electronic albums, Squarepusher knows music. The disc is broken up into 12 tracks, but only 4 full songs are performed. 'SEB 1.01' through 'SEB 1.06' all blend into each other creating a 12 minute epic, starting out light and soothing before twisting into a dark piece, filled with minor scales and slap grooves. Very often a song will start out with light chord strums before bursting into an energetic slap bass climax then falls back to single notes over quite chords. The most exciting of the songs, 'SEB 1.05', is a track all its own. Just over 4 minutes in length, Jenkinson starts slowly before exploding into a flurry of notes that leaves the audience screaming and clapping when the track falls to quite chords once again. Each song is a remarkable display of skill and soul, never sounding self indulgent or overly pretentious.
Jenkinson has trained himself in many styles, many of which are proudly displayed on Solo Electric Bass 1
. Ranging from classical to Spanish, there are many surprises to be found on this album. On 'SEB 1.02', Jenkinson brings out a jazz inspired slap groove just to be followed by a Spanish sounding gallop in 'SEB 1.03'. Jenkinson's classical style is demonstrated most often, especially on pieces such as 'SEB 1.07', where he plays calming chords that sound less like a bass and more like a harp. This slow and quite technique is utilized often in the album, which sets a peaceful and relaxing mood. In between these slow classical passages is where the fun is, a new and awe-inspiring display of skill is brought to light in each of the four songs. Booming slaps, lightning fast taps, and innovative grooves are all present on Solo Electric Bass 1
Not just for bass players, Solo Electric Bass
is a great album by an incredible player. This album may change your view on what the bass, and Squarepusher as a player, is capable of. From the beginning noodling that starts 'SEB 1.01', to the mind-blowing slap section that ends 'SEB 1.12', Solo Electric Bass
provides a great listening experience. While live recordings may be something to be concerned about, not a sound is heard from the audience apart from woos and claps in between songs and a cough here and there. Just as beautiful as it is awe-inspiring, Solo Electric Bass
is a great album for anyone curious about what solo bass playing is all about or just looking for an interesting listen.