Flats Fixed documents the meeting of sorely missed bass legend Peter Kowald, Kent Kessler, and Fred Longberg-Holm, recorded in 1998 at Evanston's WNUR studio without prior intent except to go somewhere new. At every turn, inaudible sub frequencies collide with screeching higher fret-board motions and telepathic interplay, commanding our attention for 70 minutes or so of musical exploration. The tracks are divided between longer pieces and some shorter miniatures.
"Miniature 1 " features some seriously demented hobgoblin verbiage and squawking beneath stereo bass action. "Miniature 2" continues on the creep, with FLH's note fragments cutting through the bass deluge. "Miniature 3" features smeared bowed bass over dissonant plucking and fluttering cello beneath. "Miniature 4" goes into more staccato territory, with bows employed to saw at strings and also as drumsticks. "Miniature 5" is more solemn and molasses-like in its slowly unfolding mood. Oozing, dark shades of sound join in streams of impenetrable murk. "Miniature 6" plucks out two disparate lines that dance around each other sans cello.
"FF6" is a more aggressive affair. More volume, dissonance, and counterpoint are utilized, spearheaded by FLH's sinister, noisy bow bursts that twist into small melodic moments. It's also one of the longest songs to be found here. "b&b" is a bit more contemplative, but furiously paced nonetheless. At times invoking images of coiled up snakes slipping past each other.
Sounds momentarily mingle in space, but ultimately the musical statements are 3 separate means to the same end. That is not to say it's incongruous. They are keenly sympathetic, especially on the tonal and textural planes. It's a pleasure to hear these men playing in a vacuum of rhythm or fixed harmonic movement, free to paint 3-dimensional space as they see fit. This recording is musical and exciting on every level.
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