AMN Reviews: Adriano Orru – Hesperos

Adriano Orru: Hesperos (LBN011)

Hesperos is a new solo release from Sardinian double bassist Adriano Orru on the La Bel netlabel. The six pieces collected here are diverse in sound but unified at the conceptual level. What Orru has done is form each one around the idea of a winnowing down to fundamentals, quite literally: All six are constructed around the fundamental tone or tones of one of more open strings.

Whales opens the collection with sul ponticello bowing on multiple open strings. Orru creates brief sound events, separated by pauses, made up of harmonics or tone clusters frequently built around minor seconds. The piece culminates in waves of chords bowed in rocking motion over all four strings. A plucked open E string announces and anchors A sa muda, a six-beat lyrical piece with a Phrygian feel. This is followed by Hesperos, a percussive piece in which prepared open strings are struck in rapid rhythms. The aptly titled DEbEF is built around these four tones rooted on the open D string. The tetrachord is bowed with increasing speed, sounds smearing into each other to create accidental chords. Orru here uses sul ponticello bowing and a rapid tremolo to alter the timbre and durations of the notes. Halys begins with a rich bowed open A string and develops with the feel of an adagio, a lyrical line moving slowly over its chords. Whether plucked or bowed, the melody falls back on the simple refrain of the open A. The collection closes with the lengthy Cosmognia semplice, in which the open E string is struck rhythmically with beaters while metal objects and marbles are placed on the strings to rattling effect.

Orru’s album is lyrical at the same time that it is experimental. The idea of focusing each piece on an open string is a natural one for the bass, and here it is developed in ways that elicit a kind of singing—the results are not at all dry or abstract, as one might expect from an experiment rooted in such an a priori concept. This is a variety of idea art that doesn’t sacrifice the art for the idea.

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