It's not just in packaging that Jason Kahn's Cut imprint is consistent: the attractively sleeved discs often contain a musical aesthetic as steeped in simplicity as Kahn's design sense. The Cut catalog is full of discs with a fairly constrained trajectory, discreet musical instances with a well-defined focus. Walchturm Solo upholds this curatorial tendency, featuring Christian Weber on solo contrabass, and while Weber's technique varies throughout the disc's thirty-eight minutes, the performance is one of a steady determination, a long-form improvisation that largely avoids superfluous gesture or aimless wandering. Solo bass recordings can have a tendency to become taxing in the wrong musician's hands, but Walchturm Solo maintains a compelling arc, far from static, but also without needless fiddling or hyperactivity. The single track that comprises Walchturm Solo begins with Weber create a creaking cacophony, like a chorus of doors in an old boat's undersea cabin being opened and closed in a collection of groans and squeals. Weber's concentration on the diverse textures of his instrument remains a near constant throughout the album. An interlude of pizzicato plucks and percussive slaps gives way to bowing that hints at a repetitive melody that is never birthed, with the almost tactile sound of the bow rubbing the string more
important than any specific note that might resonate. It may be the character of the room in which Weber performed, or perhaps the means of Kahn's recording, but the bass sounds wonderfully deep, its lowest emanations sounding forth with a titanic rumble. Work higher on the neck elicits a rich, reedy texture, though Weber seems dispositioned to the nether regions of his instrument's range. One can practically hear the physical form of the instrument explored in detail by hands and bow. The disc isn't especially brief, but there's little in the way of long-windedness within; Weber takes the time to explore the different facets of a sound or technique, but doesn't linger too long. He may not be a big name amongst players of his big instrument, but Christian Weber's made one of the more interesting solo bass albums to hit these ears in recent years. He explores the many voices of his instrument without giving in to the indulgences that can strike the soloimproviser, and what might be Walchturm Solo's best quality (aside, perhaps, from the character of its fidelity) is the way that Weber takes his time. He's not exhaustive, but Weber knows just how long to tarry in one spot or the next, making for a journey that moves along at just the right pace.

Adam Strohm
August 2008