The primary focus of French double bassist Benoit Cancoin’s music is on the changeable qualities of sound as such. As with his previous solo work and his work with the extraordinary, free improvisational string quartet Quatuor BRAC, his two most recent recordings, one a solo and the other a duet with trumpeter Birgit Ulher, find him deeply immersed in the double bass’s palette of sounds.
In Orbital Solo Cancoin’s concentration is on transformations of sonority rather than changes of pitch. The latter he often holds constant or very nearly so, as when he brings out the subtle differences between the same note as played on different strings and different positions, or as played plucked, tapped and bowed. He’s especially adept at highlighting the different sets of overtones obtainable from the same note when one changes the position and weight of the bow as when, for example, he takes the open D string as an anchor and uses variations in bowing to coax a rich range of harmonics from it.
Orbital Solo is one long, unbroken performance in which the double bass is played organically–without amplification or augmentation by electronics or foreign objects. The title is a reference to Cancoin’s having rotated the instrument around the axis of its endpin while playing, in order to foreground the spatial aspects of the sound.
On Electric Green Cancoin partners with Birgit Ulher, another musician known for exploring the less ordinary side of her instrument’s sound capabilities. The album is marked by an understated, dynamically subtle expressionism communicated through an extended vocabulary of creaks, chattering, squeals, whooshes, and gurgles.