A palimpsest—a manuscript page scraped of existing writing in order to receive new writing—represents something of an adaptation of old materials to new purposes. As such, it’s an appropriate image for this new release from Sardinian double bassist Adriano Orrù. Once an electric bassist, Orrù here takes up his old instrument again and puts it to new uses in this set of ten improvised duets created through file-sharing.
The duets collected here embrace a diversity of instrumentation: Three are with Silvia Corda on prepared piano and toy piano; three feature Mauro Sambo on gongs and other percussion and electronics; and four match Orrù with Paolo Chagas on bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, and flute. Each pairing is characterized by its melding of distinctive voices into a cohesive whole. The duets with Sambo tend toward a kind of ineffably angular atmospherics, with the exception of Scrape Off, a cut up and multitracked sound collage Sambo constructed from samples of Orrù’s bass. Exploiting her instruments’ sometimes chiming, sometimes muted timbres, Corda sets out deliberately paced chords, displaced accents and percussive dissonances that provide an apt framework within which Orrù’s drones and upper register, atonal lead lines can flourish. Chagas, even when playing out, brings an inherent sense of lyric narrative to his parts. His interactions with Orrù are especially provocative, whether it’s a matter of his shakuhachi-like flute being recontextualized by Orrù’s subtly changing harmonic support, or his soprano sax offsetting the electric bass’s chromatic melodies and microtonal glissandi. Throughout the set Orrù stretches the electric bass’s voice while still maintaining its essential qualities. His sound is notable for its clear highs and resonant lows, which impart a crispness and depth to his quick runs, chords and arpeggios.