There is no need for a stage in order to play, to live with your instrument, even if for many people (although not all, as attitudes change), it has tended to be seen as a compulsory path. The Australian double bassist Marc Cauvin, even if he is certainly a "professional" musician who gives concerts and nourishes his musical practice through performing in front of an audience, gives the impression that he is one of those people who could spend hours all alone listening to the subtle resonance of the sonorous body they have chosen: and in the case of double bass, there would be no shortage of it, given the size of the instrument. The music he produces, particularly on this CD, Installation of Sound, which is well named (as he indeed installs sound), is precisely that: listening. There are objects, there is even some primary electronics, but it is the double bass that is in control. However
it is not a disk of solo double bass, or even a disk of a double bass player; these are exercises or attempts to find one alone which can sometimes engender miracles and most of the time are simply declarations of virtuosity. Marc Chauvin's double bass is not a marvel of virtuosity (of course, he certainly knows how to play- we're not talking about a beginner here) but it speaks of purity. The impression, or perception, we have is that it is not a musician and his instrument;it is a dialogue between them,because they know each other well and have undoubtedly spent many moments together in a joint solitude. Like when Marc Cauvin takes his double bass, puts it in his car and sets
off through the desert, crossing Australia from Sydney to Melbourne- around 900 kilometres- just to improvise for one short morning with another musician, with no audience, simply for the pleasure of playing. We know what they are like, these long car trips: even with the best friends in the world, you can sometimes run out of topics of conversation. So Marc Cauvin and his double bass turn to other subjects, and play the music of other composers : this is the content of his double CD Transfiguration, where he interprets a "contemporary" repertoire for his instrument, including Scelsi and Berio and Xenakis, but also (and especially?) three compositions including two unreleased works by the fabulous double bassist Fernando Grillo. And we can see how, even though Grillo was a amazing musician (he died in 2013). he was undoubtedly not a composer on the same level,and it is his short pieces (including one dedicated to Marc Cauvin) that we prefer, those where the two double bassists, the one who plays and the one who writes, remain closest to their instrument, without venturing into excessively large architectures.
The great musical architectures are perilous: often it is the moment when the musician changes status, the instrumentalist becomes a composer- and rare are those who retain tbe two statuses.
Mark's latest offering is an eclectic album of compositions that explores the double bass as a protagonist in the realm of musique concrete and elektronische music. The USB edition includes a model replica 1:12 scale size double bass, case inserts, a screw in endpin, a bow, and header card. The album is included on a flash drive inside the case.
“Beautiful pieces using bowed mini basses, a planetarium and something else (I think). This dark, rich music is interrupted by odd sounds (which appear keyboardy, though I know they’re not) and would have caused a dandy riot in Paris almost exactly a century ago. That we can now appreciate this as merely a fantastic racket of goodness surely speaks to our evolution.”
Byron Coley, pg. 70, Size Matters, The Wire Magazine UK July 2013.
Kontrabassarium 17.5cm Boxset
Exclusively available in a deluxe edition and includes the Kontrabassarium vinyl 7", a glossy postcard and a stickered box. Handnumbered edition.
A collection of modern works which serve to explore and reinterpret the outer tonal qualities and harmonic possibilities of the double bass. A 2CD of solo double bass works with first time recordings of Fernando Grillo's monumental Suite I for Solo Contrabbasso. Other rarities include Giacinto Scelsi's Ko-Tha I, II, and III, Laszlo Dubrovay's Solo No.10, and Iannis Xenakis's Theraps.
"First we were treated to a rendition of the late Melbourne sound artist Syd Clayton’s composition Yehudi (1968). As the audience filed into the auditorium, two people were seated at a small table near the stage, chatting. The audience waited and waited and eventually the two performers—Mark Cauvin (double bass) and Adam Simmons (bass saxophone)—picked up their instruments. The performance unfolded as a mixture of mime and unconventional playing, with nonsensical physical gestures, hoots and grunts and included a tea break in which the performers discussed the piece, boiled a kettle and asked audience members for a cigarette. This is comic theatre that comments seriously on the limitations of conventional musical performance."
Chris Reid: Real Time Arts, Liquid Architecture 10, Melbourne 2009