I was disappointed to discover that the band name ‘300 Basses’ isn’t a literal description of the group’s ensemble, but rather refers to an accordion trio comprised of Jonas Kocher, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, and Luca Venitucci. Nevertheless, their album “Tria Atoma” on Amsterdam’s Moving Furniture Records is well worth exploring. First track ‘Atoma Tria’ consists of continuous slow chords from which arise numerous resonant and gently beating harmonies, the accordions producing timbres that are full and weighty without becoming overly lush. It’s not a new approach, but it’s well done nonetheless.
Dramatic keening crescendos augmented by bowed cymbal screeches are held apart by silence in second piece ‘Atoma Dio’. I’m not really a fan of melodrama, but there’s more subtlety and nuance here than might have been suggested by the work’s structure. Even at the height of a blast, the trio’s interest seems to remain focused on how things sound rather than on simple somatic shock. Often, the cacophony fades away to reveal detailed microbiomes of harmony and texture.
Final track ‘Atoma Ena’ combines the muted dynamics of the first piece with the second’s structure and use of silence. I sometimes received a mournful, even elegiac impression from this piece, even though it doesn’t seem to set out to manipulate the emotions — the slow, smooth attack and timbral flatness of the accordions produces a sort of blankness that can be quite moving. There’s nothing on “Tria Atoma” that to my ears sounds particularly ground-breaking, but I’ve come back to it again and again over the past month or so, and enjoyed it more than I was expecting each time.