Few acoustic visionaries are able to render the details of their methodological prowess as visible as bassist Christian Weber does. His playing sounds grounded, strong-rooted, at times even soiled by a griminess that’s all the more mystifying in view of the altitudes frequently reached by the Swiss artist, either as a member of some group or - as in this case - performing alone. This particular outing is quite disobedient, an uncharacteristic facet of Weber’s intention: the “exploration of a resonant space”. Something not easy to achieve when your comrades, as perceptive as they may be, sabotage healthily egotistic plans in favour of collective expressiveness.
It’s not a smooth experience. Recorded September 13, 2007 at Zurich’s Walcheturm art gallery, the set begins with what resembles the protagonist’s will of magnifying the crackling of a self-destructing instrument. Sinister noises with practically no harmonic content instigate a series of sliding shifts indicating that a creature born from the crumpling wood is expected anytime soon, the strings becoming the medium in a preliminary ritual which gradually introduces the spirit of the improvisation to a scarcely populated assembly of aghast testimonies.
Sure enough, Weber’s arco starts rubbing and scraping, the bass responding with a tarnished chant of excruciating poverty but, at the same time, unusually wealthy in timbral impact and moaning passion. It doesn’t last: at one point, the percussive qualities of the big box get painstakingly exploited, bumps and knocks blemishing the gritty magnetism, if only for a pinch of valuable minutes. Then we’re back to longer “notes”, if we’re allowed to call them so. Their austere temperament summons forth the ghost of dead virtuosity, yet it takes a virtuoso - a courageous one - to perform in this concentrated, severe, ultimately admirable manner with such a difficult tool. The reiterative tolling at the end of the performance seals an act that deserves the utmost credit, the music warily circumnavigating any sort of archetypal “aural gratification”. This is not a divertissement for head-swinging, glass-in-the-hand real estate agents.
Sometimes we have to dig deep - filthy hands, mud in the face - to find the heart of beauty. Someone might not be persuaded of its existence in Walcheturm Solo. How wrong these people would be.

Massimo Ricci
August 2008