Swedish-born and now Boston-based bassist Bruno Raberg
explores meditative soundscapes with a flexible free improvisation approach in a variety of ensemble sizes. On Presence
(Orbis Records, 2000) he featured a trio lineup. Chrysalis
(Orbis Records, 2004) showcased an all-star nonet; and on his sprawling two disc Lifelines
(Orbis Records, 2008) he employed a quartet. With Plunge
though, he pares things down to an intimate duo setting, teaming with trumpeter Phil Grenadier
for the most modern sounding outing in his discography.
Sparseness and space are often a big part of duo outings, but less so here, due to Råberg's very effective use of sound design. These mostly free improvisations were laid down in real time, with effects and sound manipulations added later to craft an eerie electronic atmosphere. Grenadier lays down his linesmuted and open hornwith a patient resolve. Råberg's bass paints dark washes and pounds out percussive interludes. "Double duos" appear, where Råberg and Grenadier recorded free improvisations and then overdubbed, interacting with and bouncing off the first take.
The pieces are short, ranging from the forty-five second opener, "Reveille," to the six and a half minute heart of the disc, and one of two written piecesalto saxophonist free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman
's "Lonely Woman." This frequently covered Coleman tune has never sounded more anguished, with Grenadier's two trumpet parts weaving around one another inside a dread-filled soundscape hum.
The disc closes with the searching "Being and Time," a tranquil trumpet accompanied by Råberg's bass that shifts between edgy fibrillation and steady metronomic notes, to wrap up an excellent suite-like free jazz outing.