John McCowen: Solo Contra (International Anthem Recording Co., 2017)

February 10, 2018 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

John McCowen: Solo Contra

True to its title, this is a short album of solo performances for contrabass clarinet. The instrumentation is acoustic, but like Colin Stetson, McCowen uses multiple microphones and extended breathing techniques to create something that defies what a standard musician can seemingly produce. The first track is fairly subdued and controlled, but “Chopper HD” is much sharper and reedier, verging on abrasive noise, but again, entirely acoustic. “Berths 1-3” is an extended suite which moves very slowly, tipping from thin waves to richer, more jagged textures without straying from the pulpit. It ends with what must’ve been an extremely satisfying mic (or contra) drop.

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