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BASS COMMUNION

Bass Communion

Progressive Electronic


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UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Ok this provokes me to a degree were I get angry. How can you get away with releasing this kind of music ? Who would buy this kind of mindless noise ?

Well my respect for Steven Wilson just went down a bit. Now I might not like all his experiments in Porcupine Tree and I think some of them keeps the Porcupine Tree albums from being really great, but those experiments are nothing compared to this ambient noise.

This is only for people into really ambient music. There are no drums on the album, and it seems to me Steven Wilson has pushed the repeat button on his keyboard because nothing really happens during the way way waaaayyy too long songs. This is a torture I promise you. This is a school example of how some musicians use their fame to produce questionable output to make money. Or maybe Steven Wilson really likes this music ? How many Porcupine Tree fans have been lured into purchasing this repetitive trivial noise ? IŽll tell you how many. Many enough for Mr. Wilson to release 9 Bass Communion albums so far. Yes you read right! 9 albums.

This is by far the worst album I have reviewed since I started reviewing albums on the Prog Archieves site. Stay away and donŽt waste your time or money like I did this has absolutely nothing to do with Porcupine Tree or any other Steven Wilson related project.

Report this review (#162811)
Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars So it seems that this album is looked down upon by many, but I think it is a great album.

I first saw this album (in iTunes) a little while after I got my first PT CD. I listened to the 30 second previews, and I didn't really know what to think of it. At the time most of the tracks just sounded like noise. I wasn't interested, so I ignored it, and I moved on to buy more PT albums.

Well, about a year after that, I started to get into electronic music. Not ambient at the time though, mainly a genre called IDM. About a year after that (which is about 3 weeks ago) I went to Steve Wilson's website to see if anything new was going to be released by PT in the near future. While I'm there, I see the Bass Communion section of the site, and I go to it. I start reading what I already have about 2 years ago, and for curiosity's sake, I check out this album again on iTunes. This time, it enlightens me. So I think, what the hell, what's the worst that could happen? I buy it.

The intro track Shopping is just that. An intro track. It has a bunch of static, but if you turn up the volume loud enough, you can hear synths in the background. Nothing special, but it wasn't supposed to be.

Drugged is by far the best track on the album. It starts off with a hollow, dark sound which wraps around your mind. After a while of this, the happier, more dramatic tones come in, and they continue to wrap around in your mind. Even though happier tones are now present, it still sounds haunting. Then, you hear the sound that you probably least expect to hear: a guitar. It strums in a kind of random part of the song, and each time I hear it, my stomach kind of drops. The haunting is now the holly. The track immediately changes mood as soon as you hear that, even though it's really the only thing changing in the song. The guitar continues to strum every so often, with everything else still going on in the background. The track fades out, and I'm left hypnotized.

Sleep Etc Again starts with a dark sound, but it's more spooky than dark. There's a sound in the background that could be a number of things: water flowing, tall rustling grass, or just static. Every so often a grueling sound of a double bass comes in using a bow. It's a very appropriate sound for this track, it adds more to the scary feeling. I want to stress how creepy this song is. It's like an old, abandoned house where a family once lived, but they were killed, and you're in the room where the baby once lived. My description sounds cheesy, but that's how spooky this song is. The growling bass gets hungrier and growls louder and the long notes end with trills to make this even scarier. A pretty good track, like a scary story, but a good one that isn't cheesy.

Orphan Coal is a different track. Right off the bat you can tell that it's different because of the percussion. This track took me a while to get used to, but it's pretty good. You hear the slamming of...something. It's not a drum, but some percussive instrument. Then, you hear a string of notes picked by a guitar, and then you hear a lot of notes that sound like they're being played backwards. This goes on for a while, and it's not very exciting. Then you hear a wave of sound emerge and crash, and they keep coming. Shortly after, you hear an electric bass come in, which is another thing that makes this track a little bit different. The waves of sound get a little spookier. Towards the end the percussion stops playing and so does the bass, which makes it more spacey, because everything becomes more unexpected.

The longer version of Drugged is A lot like the first, except it doesn't start tout as creepy. No guitar either, but it's different enough where it's worth a listen. A good track.

Overall, I think that this is a really good album, and I'm surprised that it isn't appreciated that much.

Report this review (#203491)
Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Bass Communion (I) is a beautiful, experimental minimalist electronic album by the prolific Steven Wilson. I have no real care for the music of Porcupine Tree or any of Steven Wilson's other, more prominent projects, so I was hasty in deciding to listen to this album. I'm glad I did, because this album is hypnotizing in the most beautiful way.

The music on this album is very minimalist and largely ambient at its core, which is something that I usually tend to dislike, but Bass Communion (I) is a fantastic merging of the electronic and the organic elements that can be used to created music. Light ambient drones on the synthesizer intermingle with recorded authentic tribal-like drums and manipulated violin to create atmosphere that is incredibly earthy and comprehensible. The only parts of any of these tracks that noticeable progress would be the gradual swelling and fading of airy synths that establish the dream-like quality of this hypnotizing album.

Anyone a fan of Brian Eno's ambient albums should definitely give Bass Communion (I) a listen, but again, this album is much more engaging.

Report this review (#441144)
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars BASS COMMUNION is a side project of one Steven Wilson who I admit is a hero of mine. Heck he loves and grew up on the same kind of music that many of us here are fans of. His IEM project was inspired by Krautrock while BASS COMMUNION was inspired mostly by the electronics of Klaus Schulze and TANGERINE DREAM.Yes he listened to a lot of Krautrock and Electronics in his youth. Some might not know that the music that he plays here is the same music he was making long before PORCUPINE TREE or NO-MAN became his focus.This is all about soundscapes to drift away in, an escape from reality which is what most Electronic Prog is about. Steven said recently in an interview that BASS COMMUNION is "my labour of love, my biggest passion musically these days". So the object here according to Wilson is to use a sound that is either powerful or beautiful or spiritual then find a way to fill a whole space with it while trying to retain the beauty and power of the original sound throughout. This is about filling a room or your mind with this atmosphere so as to take you to a different reality a different place. By the way he has used sounds from both PORCUPINE TREE and NO-MAN songs on this project over the years.

"Shopping" is a short piece with distant sounding synths and static of some sort. "Drugged" is based an a Theo Travis sax melody that is repeated. Synths join in after 2 1/2 minutes and the mood becomes spacey and beautiful. Guitar echoes come in after 9 minutes. "Sleep Etc." opens with faint sounds that build. A dark track that is hard to describe really. It sounds like keys along with people walking on crunchy dry grass and atmosphere too.The atmosphere gets louder and slowly pulses. "Orphan Coal" opens with percussion-like sounds and a vocal sound that echoes in and out quickly. Other filtered sounds join the beat. The voice will continue to come and go.This is cool. A deep sound then joins in after 3 1/2 minutes.The beat and that deep sound stops after 7 1/2 minutes as it becomes spacey. "Drugged" is the 25 minute cloeser. Unlike the earlier version this one is about layering, processing and multi tracking the same sample of Robert Fripp over and over.This is beautiful and spacey throughout as it gets louder around 5 1/2 minutes then settles back around 20 minutes to the end.

This is music for Electronic-Prog fans just like IEM is for Krautrock lovers. Others should listen at their own risk.

Report this review (#442107)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Without even realizing it at the time, Steven Wilson's debut `Bass Communion' album was my very first electronic album. I was right into my Porcupine Tree/Wilson love phase, eagerly snapping up anything the man put his name to, knowing that I would at least find something interesting with this release. Upon my initial listen almost 15 years ago, I had absolutely no idea what to make of it. I had never heard anything like it, and it barely even resembled music to my ears. It sounded like snippets of inane noise, throwaway scraps hurled together with no sense of direction. It took me some time before it all fell into place, at a very vulnerable time in my life where I seemed to suddenly relate to the cold, isolating and lonely introspection of the album.

Comprised of experimental short music samples, looped slight percussion, hypnotic drones and static, the pieces stretch into long, drifting and floating electronic soundscapes. Some reference points might be Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, but where those artists frequently make you think of deep space and alien worlds, Wilson's work is far more personal and human. This worryingly makes the album much easier to relate to, even if that means confronting feelings and emotions you'd rather push aside or avoid altogether.

After `Shopping's brief introductory crackle of static, `Drugged' has cut up pieces of Theo Travis' sax blowing in the distance, tormenting and howling in it's sadness. It frequently sounds quite flat and tuneless, giving the piece an uneasy sound. Wilson's somber organ slowly enters and wraps around the piece, Theo's sax becomes more reflective and mournful. Both slowly unwind and drift along for several minutes, heightening the sense of solitude and loneliness. Eventually a slowly strummed guitar enters, backed with an icy veil of ghostly synths. This track is later reprised at the end of the album in a longer 25 minute haunting ambient piece more along the lines of the above mentioned Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream.

Cold glistening electronic fingerprints dance like raindrops around the spooky `Sleep, etc'. With it's unsettling mix of running water, thunderstorms, static and occasional harsh electronics, it makes your mind feel like it's moving in slow motion. Relentlessly predatory and threatening, definite horror movie soundtrack work here.

`Orphan Coal' has strangely wooden percussion, some seemingly comprised of voice samples, that blur into a hypnotic maze of maddening alarm-like loops, electronic washes that phase in and out, and brief heavy bass lines. Deeply fascinating and, although still uneasy, it's a little bit of a respite from the gloom of the rest of the album.

It's easy to understand the wildly varying opinions and reviews for this album. As much as it's made a huge impression on me over the years for it's emotion and depth, I also understand those who would find it inane, tedious and devoid of musical value altogether. I can listen to it one time and not connect with it at all, then the next be completely overwhelmed. It's the sort of album that guarantees you wont ever listen to it the same way twice.

The CD comes with five alternate covers, each with a very different abstract or surreal image associated with the five pieces on the album. I've always used the fourth one - `Orphan Coal', which has a photo of a deserted bridge and lonely city streets at night. This striking image perfectly captures the isolation and sadness of the album, and it compliments this emotional work for me perfectly.

A lonely, haunting and thoroughly immersive album I can relate to and connect with from time to time, sadly during my unhappier and lonelier moments. But it's albums like this that can make you truly feel human, that in moments of personal reflection force you to confront yourself. I hope more adventurous listeners might take the time to see how they respond to this powerful work.

Four stars.

Report this review (#844551)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
TCat
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars For those that don't already know, Bass Communion is Steven Wilson. Now before you get all excited, for anything under the Bass Communion title, don't expect music similar to Porcupine Tree, No-man, or most anything directly under Steven Wilson's solo albums. You will be disappointed if you expect that you are going to hear that kind of music. What you will hear are experimental tracks, most of them very long and ambient, minimal and dronelike. If you expect that, then you are going to know what you are getting into. So many people see SW's name attached to this project and come away frustrated and disappointed. However, if you know you are instead going to get textural, audio-paintings, then you know what to expect and you will find that BC is some of the best of this type of recording around.

This is not music in the traditional sense as much as it is soundscapes with a lot of experimentation. They are long works, designed to but you into some type of space or environment. They are great for meditation or for just enjoyment. I find them most effective if you close your eyes, and let the music take you wherever your mind wants to wander under the influence of the sounds.

I believe the first three albums in particular, named Bass Communion I, II, and III, are the best entry points to determine if this music is for you. These first albums have more of a musical quality to them, while the later albums, for the most part, are more experimental and ambient. SW wanted to do soundscapes similar to the more ambient and experimental works of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, but he does it with very few synthesizers, relying more on source material that has been processed, manipulated and layered. Some of the tracks are original while others rely heavily on source material and field recordings that have been manipulated.

So now you know what you are getting into here, let's take a look at this album 'Bass Communion I'. We start off with a very short track, just over a minute, called 'Shopping'. It sounds like a needle being dropped on a record, then the crackling noises of the record playing. There are very soft sounds playing in the background that you have to listen closely for, just sustained chords playing.

Next we have 'Drugged' which features saxophone work by Theo Travis. It seems to be an improvised and dissonant performance. Soon, the music is layered on top of each other. Around the 2:30 mark, more sustained tones come in, sounding like an organ, but they could be just slowed down sax layers. These are the only sounds playing for now, no percussion or anything else. This sounds a lot like Paul Winter's more ambient music. It is very peaceful and soothing. This continues until the 9 minute mark when single strummed and sustained guitar chords suddenly start. This all fades after 13 minutes.

'Sleep Etc.' comes next with some layered sounds. There is a texture like a watery sound which could be processed static or something. Chimes with manipulated tones play over the top, with a 'wet' percussive noise continuing along. Lower bent drones fade in and out like a foghorn and slowly become more prominent. At about the 6:30 mark, there are echoing percussive noises that become audible. As the drones become more prominent, there is a feeling of foreboding. After 13 minutes, these sounds all fade. 'Orphan Coal' starts off with a rhythmic, percussive pattern, that sound almost like congas. Textured musical sounds, a beeping noise and echoing, wordless vocal sounds come in and out, along with a strange sudden percussion that appears to imitate the vocal sounds. At 3 minutes, sustained chords fade in and out. Soon after, a 3 note bass pattern also repeats on occasion. The repeating percussion suddenly drops out of the mix at the 7:30 mark, and the other sounds continue until they fade after 10 minutes.

Finally, there is one more track, also named 'Drugged' like the 2nd track. This one goes for over 24 minutes. It is based on a 7 second looped Soundscape recording made by Robert Fripp. The atmospheric feel of this track comes from the processing and manipulation of that recording, where sounds are drawn out and shortened in different ways. It even sounds like an organ playing over the top of the layers, but again I don't know if it's an actual organ or just processed and sustained notes. Like the first 'Drugged' track, this one is blissful and serene. It also gets more musical as higher notes come in and swirl around in the mix. An almost vocal sounding layer is added in also, giving everything a spatial quality. As time passes, the sounds vary slightly and also swell slowly.

Overall, this is not music you listen to in a traditional sense, but it is music that will bring on a peaceful feeling. It is mostly ambient, so go into it knowing that. The slowly changing sounds cause the music to flow forward and will send your mind into bliss if you allow it to. Again, if you are curious about this music, then these first 3 albums are the ones to get for first-timers to see if it appeals to you. Lovers of the more experimental Tangerine Dream music or Labradford's music will also love this. This is top quality ambient and experimental music, both of the 'Drugged' tracks being worth the price of admission, with the other tracks included to supply variance. But, as I said at the beginning, don't come into this with any expectations of past SW music, and maybe you will find it touches you also. In addition to this, try to not notice time passing and things will be more effective.

Report this review (#2040213)
Posted Monday, October 1, 2018 | Review Permalink

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