Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Bass Communion

Progressive Electronic

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bass Communion Cenotaph album cover
3.34 | 33 ratings | 3 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Citadel (q) (19:09)
2. Carrion (u) (21:19)
3. Cenotaph (r) (19:01)
4. Conflux (n) (17:49)

Total Time 77:09

Vinyl Version (2011):
1. Citadel (q) (19:09)
2. Carrion (u) (22:16)
3. Cenotaph (r) (19:01)
4. Conflux (n) (18:06)

Total Time: 78:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Wilson / performer, composer

- Theo Travis / trombone (not confirmed)

Releases information

Artwork: Carl Glover

CD Tonefloat ‎- tf116 (2011, Netherlands)

2xLP Tonefloat ‎- tf114 (2011, Netherlands) New mix

Thanks to Anthony H. for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy BASS COMMUNION Cenotaph Music

BASS COMMUNION Cenotaph ratings distribution

(33 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

BASS COMMUNION Cenotaph reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by colorofmoney91
2 stars Emptiness that moves at a steady pace to nowhere in particular.

Bass Communion, being a Steven Wilson project, is always on my list of projects to listen to when a new album is released. So far the music hasn't lived up to my expectations but the attempt at creating dreamy soundscapes is usually respectable, which is the case of Cenotaph. Described as a sequel to the mysterious and relatively enjoyable Ghosts On Magnetic Tape, I can't really see how this is much of a sequel at all besides being entirely ambient and fairly dark.

When "Citadel (q)" finally gets going after 5 minutes of abyssal groaning and old timey vinyl record crackle-pop, a very deep and mid-paced dubstep inspired bass beat is introduced. Because of the dark atmosphere and the deep dubstep quality present on this album, it sounds like Wilson has been inspired by Andy Stott. The only problem I have with this is the clear lack of sufficient progression or points of interest. "Citadel (q)" and the last track, "Conflux (n)", utilize the exact same beat and drones that slowly alter in pitch, which wouldn't be too big a problem except that together they create 37 minutes of the exact same stagnant, bland experience.

The middle portion of the album mixes things up a slightly - about as slightly as compositionally possible. The beat present on 3/4ths of this album is still pounding away on "Carrion (u)" but with an added higher pitched beat on top of it, and the dark ambient drone background is a bit more active with various electronic groans and resonances. "Cenotaph (r)" completely removes the aforementioned beat and is instead completely ambient, starting off with a rainy drone atmosphere and progressing to a darkly celestial ethereality.

Steven Wilson is a very respectable musician and is an understandable figurehead in modern progressive rock, but this latest attempt at crafting beat laden ambient comes off as boring, even to a fan of ambient music in general. I can see the level of work that went into this album - made obvious by the extremely deep and pleasant atmosphere that the production of this album so proudly displays - but the entire album sounds like what Andy Stott would record if he were to completely give up on making his music interesting at all. That being said, I am very positive that Cenotaph is great music for lulling oneself to sleep or simply let drone in the background for peripheral solace while performing lengthy, tedious chores, but it's not suitable for musical entertainment.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "A painter paints pictures on canvass, but musicians paint their pictures on silence." - Leopold Stokowski

When you look at paintings, your sense of vision is used. Steven Wilson performing as Bass Communion paints with sound. Your sense of hearing is used. These are soundscapes. The music is ambient, very minimal. It is not music for entertainment in the way that we are used to using music for entertainment, that is why it is so hard for people to understand this music.

Paintings are enjoyed by looking at them, there is no time, no rhythm, no sound. They are a still portrait and we as humans can take as long as we want to look at them, but in the world of the actual painting, time means nothing. Music, however, lives more in the constraint of time. We use rhythm to help break up the timing so that we notice even more the movement of time as a song or a composition plays itself out.

These "songs" on this album and most of the Bass Communion recordings can be thought of almost like paintings, at least that's how I consider them. In actuality, it is all art. The songs have rhythm, but it's not the typical rhythm as drums, but more like percussive electronic sounds. Other sounds and textures weave in and out, flow around each other. Each sound could be considered brushstrokes for the painting. There is no picture other than what we visualize in our own mind. The picture we conjure up is what is painted on the silence, however, musicians and artists both, whether they know it or not, not only use silence or canvass, they use our memories. In music, especially this kind of minimalism, we have a lot more freedom to let ourselves be touched in a wider variety of ways than we do for standard art. We have a lot more freedom of interpretation through music. As in painting though, the more abstract the music or the painting, the more freedom we have.

I find this music very inspiring when I really sit down and listen to it, either really concentrating, or even as background music. If I listen to it like I would any other kind of music, I don't find it enjoyable, but if I listen to it by losing myself in it, or as background music, then I find I enjoy it more. However, to paint a picture that the music makes in my mind, I have to concentrate on it. This is so different from what we as humans are used to when listening to music, so it only makes sense that if we really want to enjoy it, we must find a different way to listen to it. There are no melodies, no choruses, no verses, no structure really. It is abstract. It is there for our own interpretation and it is a little harder to understand because it transcends traditional form. So, it takes more effort to understand. This is why I love progressive music so much. And this is really prevalent in this album and this type of music. Bravo Steven Wilson!

By the way, he CD version of this album uses rhythm to mark the passage of time. But the vinyl version does not rely on rhythm so much, the percussive sounds are not there or at least not as prevalent.

I'm not really sure how to rate this or anything by Bass Communion. I think there are other Bass Communion albums that would merit a 5 star rating because of the ingenuity. This one is excellent for this type of music, I guess not really essential, so I will give it 4 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Bass Communion's virtues don't need to be extolled ad-infinitum by me here. People reading this review will already know that it is part of Steven Wilson's immense pantheon of work and that it is a departure from his other projects by way of its focus on ambient, electronic minimalism. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#870041) | Posted by blueavenger | Sunday, December 2, 2012 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of BASS COMMUNION "Cenotaph"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.