Bass Communion – Pacific Codex
(Equation Records 2008, E=mc16)
From Aural Innovations #39 (May 2008)
The latest from Steve Wilson’s prolific ambient side project is a collaboration with Theo Travis. It could be said also that Steve Hubback completes the trio. Although he doesn’t perform on the album, his presence is certainly felt.
Hubback is the creator of wild and fantastic gongs and percussion that are works of art in themselves, but are also, as in the case of Pacific Codex, used to create other works of art. Theo Travis has established himself as one of the premier saxophonist/flute players in the space/progressive/jazz/rock scene in the UK and has played with Steve Wilson before in No Man, but here, he sets his wind instruments aside and joins Wilson in performing on Hubback’s remarkable musical sculptures. The source material was recorded in 2006, and later processed and pieced together by Wilson into two 20-minute long pieces that comprise the album.
The album opens with the soft roll of a gong that fades into silence. More gongs follow, deeply reverbed, creating a fluid and expansive space into which Wilson and Travis add smaller bell like crashes, washes of spacey metallic tones, and of course, deep bass gong pulses. From there, the album explores a strange yet beautiful world of percussive micro-tonalities and broader, deeper bass timbres, creating a vast sonic environment that can only be described, as the title suggests, as oceanic.
The CD comes with lavish boxed packaging, which includes a CD with a stereo mix, and a DVD-A with a 5.1 surround sound mix. Also included is a thick booklet of amazing photographs by Carl Glover of, what I presume, is the Pacific Ocean. At any rate, the watery photos add a visual component to the sonic seascape that is most welcome.
For more info, visit http://www.swhq.co.uk, http://www.myspace.com/basscommunion, and http://www.chronoglide.com/equation.html.
For info on Steve Hubback’s percussive sculptures, visit http://hubgong.dse.nl
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald