free listening: FREEBASS

out of print

FREEBASS is Tony Gordon. Abstract solo bass compositions: breaking, splintering, and developing crevasses, fenestration, frustration, and tension. Limited edition of 100, 34’ printed silver CD-Rs with black back packaged in a slim line jewel case with a custom black ink on textured black paper insert by the artist. Liner notes by Geoff Dugan. Released in 2000.

1 – 1
2 – 11
3 – 111
4 – 1,111
5 – 11,111
6 – 111,111
7 – 1,111,111

“What Planet Is the Ass You Have Your Head Up From?” by S. Glass

Of all the solos by rock bass players I’ve witnessed — performed absolutely solo while the rest of the band was backstage exercising their snort muscles — every single one has been enjoyable and necessary for pretty much one person in the room, and that person always seems to be the bass-player. The more abject uselessness one finds the unaccompanied bass solo, the more one will savor the crystal tumors Tony Gordon’s Freebase CD (GD STEREO) causes one skin to spit out like mango pits. If one would consent to sit through seven tracks of solo base improvisations only after it had been proven that pigs have wings, it is time to search the web for gene-splitting sites. Gordon’s bass screeches, gurgles and gornks like a mythological flying sow; she has corduroy skin, self-activating zippers, retractable snout holes, and pulsating udders that drip billiard balls. I say, “Oh, momma.”
Bananafish #15, 2001

FREEBASS (GD 15; No date provided, New York, NY) is a starkly packaged recording of solo electric base explorations without overdubbing or effects. It is a blur of dense sound lacking any deviation in tonal center. The name of the artist is not displayed prominently, but I suspect it is TONY GORDON. The album consists of seven cuts of static dissonance devoid of musical value (1/ 11/ 11 1/1, 111/ 11, 111/ 111, 111/1, 111, 111. 33.53). It is possible that I received a defective copy, but what played on my CD unit for three of the cuts was continual, low-register static and monotone, highly clipped noise. The clipping abated somewhat on the other pieces, but the scenario was consistent, and an elongated profusion of exaggerated, unfiltered noise ensued. Sonic reflections of an atomic blast, the opening of an ancient, un-oiled iron gate, a balloon being rubbed, and field artillery fire are evoked by the sequences. If this is cutting edge music, I don’t get it.
—Frank Rubolino, Cadence, Vol. 27 No. 4, April 2001 (from Hodgepodge & Shorties)

Freebass is, here on this release, Tony Gordon. He plays sometimes with Ellen McGrail and both are also a member of Charlie Parker, an improv band who has an LP on Old Gold. The band name is programmatic: solo bass playing, no overdubs, no effects. Well, in many ways, you could have fooled me. I expected a kind of ambient bass plucking a la Crib, but in the seven pieces offered here you get a kind of nerving, unsettled rambling. Sounds that come off fully distorted (amazing! without effects?), frentic played, scratching and scrubbing the surface of the strings. Very unsubtle music, but with great power. Noise with a heart. Free music that really is made to measure. Not a single note, sound too much. Great stuff.
—Frans de Waard, Vital, 2000