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Despite its infrequent celebration in a few pop songs and prominence as a funk band groove maker, the double bass in electric configuration doesn’t get much respect. Usually relegated to brief solos, its movement to the forefront has only been accepted and confirmed with the loosening of rules in creative music. Also because free music has no instrumental hierarchy, the shibboleth as to which instruments constitute a duo are jettisoned, as the following bass-affiliated session demonstrates.
A modification of the 'drum & bass' configuration is expressed on Murs Absurdes (Ayler AylCD-172), by the French duo Derviche. But with Eric Brochard pushing his electric bass parts more aggressively than other users of the same instrument like Blind Man’s Band’s Poulsen, and Fabrice Favriou pummeling his drum kit, echoes of Black Metal infuse the sound layers which make up the six-track suite. Creating the sonic equivalent of brutalist architecture, the two drag out each sequence. The combination of the bassist’s thickened down strokes and the drummer’s repetitive patterns constructs narratives so thick and concentrated that they’re almost opaque. Still as the sounds segue from largo to andante and finally prestissimo tempos, the bass string masonry that makes up this wall of sound can be sensed as pedal movement slightly alters Brochard’s output. By the penultimate “Sequence IX”, despite perceived heaviness, the two break up the exposition with more graduated sounds that mix improvisational motifs within the theme based around Favriou’s foot-pounding ruffs and rebounds. Interrupting the concluding “Sequence X” with a space-making buzz, Derviche returns to hearty percussion smacks and rugged string drones at the finale, while referencing improvisational movements.
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