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Bass Communion - Bass Communion (II) CD (album) cover


Bass Communion


Progressive Electronic

3.79 | 50 ratings

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5 stars Bass Communion II continues in the same vein as the first album, with more ambience, layered and textured sounds, more guest sax from Theo Travis and more soundscapes from Robert Fripp. There were a few renditions, or variations, of this album, the first edition had a 2nd disc containing the re-rendered soundscapes of Fripp on 'A Grapefruit in the World of Park' and a remix of the entire album, or at least parts and pieces of it, on 'Snakebird'. The next edition got rid of the 2nd disc and added 'Grapefruit'' to the first disc. Then, in 2007, it was released on vinyl with 2 additional parts added to the Wilson/Theo Travis track 'Wide Open Killingfield' which took up the forth side of the vinyl. Unfortunately, I don't have the copy with 'Wide Open Killingfield, Parts 2 and 3', but the review will include 'Snakebird'

Just like the first album, this one starts out with a short track called 'Advert' which lasts just under one minute. It starts out with some beeps then a crashing sound that echoes for a while with harsh percussive sounds. This turns into a drone and gets replaced with a sustained musical tone and more beeps. It fades into the next track from there.

'16 Second Swarm' actually lasts longer than 16 seconds, it is over 10 minutes. It has an airy background that sounds similar to a record that is running endlessly in a run-out groove while over the top of this is a repeating motif of musical textures that sound like a mellotron slightly processed. With each repeat, variations are added and sometimes layered. Then a steady tone is introduced over this. Then a very nice fuller almost orchestral sound is added around the 6 minute mark. This is an exceptionally beautiful track as it builds into a nice spacey sound that reminds one of the expanses and loneliness of the universe. There are even shades of early Pink Floyd ambient psychedelic during the last half of the track. This is just amazingly lovely.

'Grammatic Oil' is another 10 minute wonder. Where percussion was completely absent from the previous track, this starts off with a muted percussive beat that repeats, almost like a tribal rhythm. A drone establishes itself and a mysterious repeating keyboard motif plays on top of it. Another drone is layered on top and then disappears and the motif returns. Another layer appears, a soft thump that provides a 'faux-bass'. There is a windy noise in the background the builds as the track continues, and you realize it is a layered tone as it gets more intense. Deep underneath it all, there are some odd metallic noises.

On the first BC album, there were 2 different tracks with the same name. That name reappears on this album, but at least now it is designated 'Drugged III'. At just under 17 minutes, it is the longest track on the album. It starts out with what sounds like plucked piano strings with the sustain pedal held down, giving the track an oriental feel. Atmospheric tones and sounds swirl around the plucked strings, and they become that sustained organ sound that was prevalent in the previous 'Drugged' tracks. At the 5 minute mark, strummed, echoing electric guitar chords come in and Theo Travis begins to add his sax giving a slow sustained melody of sorts, though it is improvised just like the plucked strings. Somewhere around 7:30 mark, the plucked piano strings go away while the other textures and sounds continue. At 11 minutes, the strummed guitar fades out leaving just the echoing sax and some high pitched sounds swirling around. At 13 minutes, a warm texture from processed sounds, probably an organ, comes in and builds a base again.

'Dwarf Artillery' is relatively shorter at just over 7 minutes. It starts out with a muted thump of percussion and bass with clicks and submarine beeps over it all. It slowly establishes a rhythmic pattern. A drone fades in and out as do some swirling sustained notes. Around 3 minutes, we are just left with the original sounds still keeping a muted rhythm, then an organ drone slides in with some distant metallic sounds repeating a short riff of their own. All of this stays ambient however, and gives you a nice peaceful feeling, but there is still a feeling of impending danger in the background.

'Wide Open Killingfield' is the only track not fully credited to Steven Wilson as Theo Travis is also given credit. What sounds like waves and metallic pieces being moved by the wind is what provides the basis. Over this are mid-tone level sustained notes moving in and out like the waves with some higher rusty sounds. The layered flutes and sax provide some atmospheric textures. As we move away from the waves, we get the feeling we are slowly crossing a dark and deserted landscape where there is nothing but old hunks of machinery lying about. This is the picture you get through this 13 minute track as the foreboding feeling doesn't change much throughout.

The 2nd disc contains two tracks. The first one is 'A Grapefruit in the World of Park' which is based on a soundscape from Robert Fripp (King Crimson). This is a 12 minute track that uses Fripp's layered and manipulated sounds, and layers and manipulates them even more. Those familiar with 'Frippertronics' and 'Soundscapes' will recognize the unique sounds as they ebb and recede, each time coming back with some slight variations that get layered on top of each other.

This version of the album ends with 'Snakebird', a remix of various portions of the album done by Mark Poysden of 'The Square Root of Sub'. This 11 minute remix utilizes the entire album as source material for the remix. All of the electronic tones, textures and noises are reimagined in this track to create a new track. You will recognize some sounds, but others are even processed and manipulated even more to give new insight and feeling. Quite an interesting track.

The first part of the album is the best, as it is closer to a traditional sound, but still very experimental. The 2nd half is much more experimental and ambient, but a genius recording nonetheless. This would be a good starting point for those curious about the Steven Wilson project, but just remember to not expect typical SW music. It is still a non-traditional musical experience that is best heard with headphones, eyes closed and mind opened. As far as progressive electronica and experimental music goes, I consider it an essential album.

TCat | 5/5 |


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