On the 1st of February 2016 I released my second solo album. It is entitled «Forms & Poses» and explores the connection between the human body and the double bass. In order to play any type of instrument, we have to apply our body. The body of the instrument and our own body is the ingredients that make up sound, so there is always an aspect of physicality involved, sometimes obvious, sometimes not so much. This is what I want to communicate with this album and here are some more thoughts about the topic:
I guess there’s many places to begin, but the impermanence of things seems like a good place to start (it is always a good place to start, actually). Everything changes all the time, and my body is no different. To play the moment also means to play my body in the shape and abilities it has now. I probably won’t be able to do the same stuff I’m doing now when I’m 60 years old, so I am trying to utilize my body in its current condition to create music that is genuine for this exact time and space. This is why I’m interested in yoga-asana practice because some of its effects allow me to approach my instrument in new ways. The asanas (postures) found in yoga pushes the body’s (and the mind’s) borders, and when old borders have been moved, I see new possibilities when I’m with my instrument. The traditional positioning of the body in relation to the bass is just a template, not an absolute, and my relation to the instrument has changed, so to say. When I find myself in a musical setting where my intellect drops off, my body is ready to be utilized in new ways. Usually it is the music itself which makes the body find new relations to the body of the bass, and it is a very subtle change. All I have done is just prepare my body for whatever might come. Just as my body changes, the bass also changes. But I am not so interested in trying to control the temperament of my instrument. It has its own life, and every performance is, whether conscious or not, a reconciliation between me and my instrument. Or you could call it a dance, maybe. Or a compliance. There are always external factors that I can’t control, but at the same time I know that the laws of nature are always in play, e.g. a string is a string no matter how humid or dry, cold or hot. I would say that even my body is an external factor with a life on its own, but for several reasons I am more interested in doing more maintenance on my body rather than my bass. So the only thing I can do is try to get control over my body by practicing it through different mediums, like for instance yoga. Of course I also try to minimize the gap between me, the bass and my musical intention by practicing my instrument in all sorts of ways. Some years ago I decided that I will harness my instrumental skills using «only» my bass, my bows and my body. A rather conventional setup, but the possibilities within this framework are endless. The bass consists of so much more than only the strings. All parts of the bass embody sound, many parts even multiple sounds. Instruments within an instrument. And when I say I use my body, I mean all of my body. Hands, feet, cheek, head, mouth, voice, arms, legs. At least that’s a start. We will see where it goes from there. I tried to illustrate these elements in the title track of the album. The track is an elaborate edit combining the three ingredients above into different soundscapes, put together in a way which hopefully shows all the physical labor going on.
The cover art is also influenced by the idea of temporality. This is how my body looks and acts as of now. In 10 years it will be different. The visual aspect is by no means my primary goal, but I have to say that neither is the sound. My goal is always the sum of the parts. If you listen to the recording, and even though you can’t actually see what I am doing, you can imagine what I am doing. Same goes for hearing. If a deaf person attends a performance where I do a lot of physical stuff, these movements clearly indicate sound, a temperament and a musical mood. Not hearing is only a different way of listening. Sound is embedded in movement, and visa versa. The separation of our senses is only a model which does not really exist. It is just our habitual way of labeling things which have organized it this way. Sound and movement are always just parts of a whole. Lately, as I have watched numerous concerts of energetic free jazz, I have started to notice the importance of the physical aspect of these types performances. The audience loves to see the players suffer (read: work), and the music really feeds off the raw, physical energy that the musicians put into the mix. It is what keeps this music fresh and alive. It becomes a very physical thing for the audience as well, and I guess this is also why some people get addicted to this kind of music. I once saw an interview with Japanese musician Otomo Yoshihide in which he explains his theory about how Japanese noise music has partially developed from a misunderstanding about American rock music. He explained that when Japanese people heard American rock music, they got an image in their head about how it was played, not only the sound settings and instrumentation, but also how they acted on stage. This image didn’t exactly match reality, but Otomo and his peers created a new reality from what they heard and from what they thought it would look like. This misconception led to the birth of a vigorous part of what would later be known as Japanoise, a genre which is well known for its loud and physical performances (at least some of its sub-genres).
Another idea I had for the album is represented on the opening track, «Vita». I wanted to make myself into an instrument for the bass. I use a technique which is purely mechanic and automatic, so I really don’t have to think so much. Instead I just move my arm, and whatever sounds are being produced are not so much a result of my own will as the «will» of my bass. Occasionally I will trigger new sounds and overtones on the bass, and I let the voice of my bass dictate how the music proceeds. In other words I try to let go of controlling the direction of the music, and let the bass and the music play me instead. So on «Vita» the bass and I switch roles. It is still very physical, but in a more passive way as I am not forcing myself on the bass. On the next track, «aria prefix M-», the bass and I merge together. I’ve already covered the third track briefly, and as for the final track «Chidori», it is also a very physical and intense piece, but with quite a different character then the title track. «Forms & Poses» is inspired by all of these different way to relate my own body to the body of my instrument. The «Forms» in the title also suggests the overall form in life («Vita» by the way, is latin for life). In Ashtanga yoga practice there are several set postures which together make up an entire form. I think our daily lives also are made up of postures just like these. We get up, brush our teeth, do our thing, go to bed, sleep. We are born, we grow up, ripen, and we die. This is also just postures that we as human beings embody throughout our life. Underneath our finite life-span lies a governing form which we are all subject to, and which represents the infinity in our existence. These pulsations happen on the molecular level as well as on a cosmic level. As above so below, and here again is the aspect of temporality, of change, and of impermanence.