Yair Elazar Glotman is a musician and sound artist based in Berlin, and has previously released work on Opal Tapes and Glacial Movements. Trained on the double bass, he also uses analogue tape loops and electronics, though it the bass that forms the focus of his new album “Études” for British label Subtext Recordings. The only other experimental double bassists I can think of are Scott Worthington and Dominic Lash, and it’s clear from the get-go that Glotman is aiming in quite a different direction from either of these peers.
Each track features the deep-throated instrument presented using a range of extended techniques and added effects. Reverb is used to create a booming, cavernous acoustic space and to accentuate various harmonics and unpitched sounds (string rattle, knocks on the body of the instrument, and so on). Despite the additional processing I assume is going on (unless the “legendary EMS studio” is located at the bottom of a mineshaft?), the album retains all the complexity and solidity of the acoustic instrument being played, which is a credit both to Glotman and his mixing and mastering engineer(s) — it really does sound fantastic.
A mix of bowed and pizzicato (plucked) techniques are used, with the former tending towards more dramatic gestures, and the latter seeming more focused on the specific timbres being produced. It is this second tendency that brings to mind other classically-trained musicians intent on drawing new and interesting possibilities from their instruments, for example the cellist Okkyung Lee and percussionists such as Enrico Malatesta and Sarah Hennies. The bowed tracks, on the other hand, seem to relate more to the dark ambient drone of artists such as Rafael Anton Irrisari and Lawrence English, though Glotman’s choice of instrument remains distinctive and immediately identifiable. The sum product is an album that traverses many different sensibilities and could find a home in many a diverse record collection — just make sure your speakers can handle low frequencies!