AMN Reviews: Devin Hoff – Baile As Baile (2012; Minus Zero)

Minus Zero is a new label started by Vijay Anderson, Ben Goldberg, and Dina Maccabee. All of the proceeds from album sales are donated to Planned Parenthood. This is a review in an ongoing series covering the label’s releases.

Bassist Devin Hoff, perhaps best known for stints with the Nels Cline Singers and Xiu Xiu, has been lending his skills as a sideman to many worthwhile projects. On this 25-minute EP, he focuses on solo contrabass. Overdubbing plucked rhythms with bowed leads, Hoff wends his way through several short pieces that combine folk and free improv. The first three tracks are part of a suite, Plains Song, and slowly build from the deliberately-paced opener to a chaotic finale. The remaining tracks feature strummed and bowed solos offering wistful yet ominous melodies with a Northern European feel. Hoff’s overdubbing on these pieces also provide texture under slowly spiraling leads, in fashion structurally (though not sonically) reminiscent of post-rock. Hoff manages to combine his technical chops with composition and improvisation skills in a manner that results in a richness that goes beyond your average solo bass album.  Highly recommended.