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Bjorn Meyer: Provenance

Mark Sullivan By

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Swedish electric bass guitarist Bjorn Meyer has worked with Persian harpist-singer Asita Hamidi (the program is dedicated to her memory), Swedish nyckelharpa player Johan Hedin and Tunisian oud master Anouar Brahem, and was a member of Nik Bärtsch's Ronin for a decade, often filling a lead instrument role. So he has a history of fitting his electronic instrument into normally acoustic environments, and has created a distinctive voice, which is showcased in this solo album—the first ECM release devoted to solo electric bass guitar.

The main instrument is a six-string electric bass guitar (along with an acoustic bass guitar), and it's a very guitar-like sound, due to the extended upper register and the timbre. The rich acoustics of the Lugano Radio Studio (plus some electronic augmentation) resulted in a frequently atmospheric effect (in Meyer's words, the studio functions as a "second member")—one far more typical of solo guitar than solo bass. "Aldebaran" opens with a cloud-like texture, dominated by shimmering high harmonics. There's a bit of low rumble, but it's otherwise not immediately bass-like. The title tune is built around a fingerpicking pattern (perhaps looped) with atmospheric melodies on top.

"Squizzle" goes into completely different territory, with its strummed funk and ringing harmonics. "Trails Crossing" and "Pendulum" both feature an electronic soundscape with contemplative melodic playing, transitioning into fingerpicking. "Banyan Waltz" is a lovely piece played almost chord-melody style. Meyer pays tribute to Asita Hamidi with a contemplative version of her "Garden Of Silence," the only non-original on the program. Meyer may not have developed a unique voice—players like fellow Swede Jonas Hellborg come to mind as comparisons—but it's an absolutely personal voice, and he demonstrates a finely-honed approach to solo playing.

Track Listing: Aldebaran; Provenance; Three Thirteen; Squizzle; Trails Crossing; Traces Of A Song; Pendulum; Banyan Waltz; Pulse; Dance; Garden Of Silence; Merry-Go-Round.

Personnel: Björn Meyer: 6-string electric bass, acoustic bass guitar; electronics.

Title: Provenance | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: ECM Records

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