113

Kent Carter: Beauvais Cathedral (1974-75)

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Kent Carter: Beauvais Cathedral (1974-75) It used to be a very rare event for a bassist to make a solo record. Now things have changed a bit, but Beauvais Cathedral takes the listener back to the day. This disc is not exactly a solo bass disc (3 tracks are solo bass and one is solo cello; the rest are higher-order units) but it conveys a strong sense of single- mindedness and direction. Kent Carter's first experiments in this realm from 1974-75 portray a clever and focused mind at work. The use of edits and overdubs on most of these tracks reveals a coherence and symphonic compositional sense which rarely appears in free improvisation. Exactly how much of that energy derives from the production is hard to tell, but it's probably minimal. (Don't go looking for crystal clear sound here—these recordings are 25 years old, though remarkably well-preserved.)

Carter is a versatile player, and each piece in this collection has its own distinct personality. Some of the common threads include attention to structure, even among the most exploratory efforts; considerable focus on the use of dynamics to develop, sustain, and release tension; and an open-ended willingness to bring strange (and at times otherworldly) sounds into the mix. The best example of pure solo playing can be found on "Bass Suite No. 1: Fingers," where Carter extends and develops a theme using a range of techniques: mostly pizzicato, with plenty of percussive tones, stretching, and drone-like double-stops. More textured work appears on "Play Time," where Carter bursts forth on the cello with impact and energy in response to what sounds like a shortwave unintelligibly scanning across frequencies. At times the cello and radio sounds are nearly indistinguishable, as Carter sneaks in and out of high-register squeaking. Finally, the title tune (with 8 overdubbed voices) sounds dark, treacherous, and eerie as Carter scratches his bow across the bass (and 5 cellos). "Beauvais Cathedral" stands out as something of a pre-electronica dark ambient composition, exploiting higher-order harmonics and eventually insistent tumbling treble tones in an ephemeral onrush of sound.

It's remarkable that one man (with scattered help here and there; see below) could come up with this broad a range of sound. And rather than yanking out all the stops to find unexplored niches in alternative techniques, this disc tends to emphasize creative collage construction and careful thematic development. This record reminds me at times of Dave Holland's early solo work, but Carter's efforts are much more open-ended and multi-dimensional. Best of all, Beauvais Cathedral is a disc that reveals many layers of ideas upon repeated listening.


Track Listing: Cello Study 1: Pinch; Dance 2: Rhapsody; Play Time; Stretch; Bass Time for Max; Chateau de Maignelay; Other Fingers; Cello Solo 2: Beginnings; Michala Dance; Bass Suit No. 1: Fingers; Beauvais Cathedral; Thumps; Steps; Tarragona.

Personnel: Kent Carter: bass, cello, radio, melodica, piano strings, drums; Phillip Pochon: cello; Michala Marcus: flute; Richard Marechin: piano; Carlos Zingaro: violin.

Title: Beauvais Cathedral (1974-75) | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Emanem


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "Gol" CD/LP/Track Review Gol
by James Nadal
Published: July 28, 2017
Read "Aziza" CD/LP/Track Review Aziza
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "#knowingishalfthebattle" CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "The Authorized Bang Collection" CD/LP/Track Review The Authorized Bang Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Shipwreck 4" CD/LP/Track Review Shipwreck 4
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 13, 2016
Read "Luma" CD/LP/Track Review Luma
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 28, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.