Pierre-Yves Martel is a Canadian experimental bassist whose range includes classical, jazz and improvisation to early music on the viola da gamba. The 18 pieces for prepared bass here are entirely improvised. Martel’s approach is influenced by guitarist Derek Bailey’s conception of non-idiomatic improvisation - which was essentially a reaction against jazz - and by the genre of solo bass albums begun by Barre Phillips in 1968 with Journal Violone, involving virtuoso extended techniques. Martel prepares the instrument with paperclips, rings, sticks and other items placed directly on the strings and on the bridge, and he mixes arco and pizzicato. The 10-microphone recording set-up allows for a close scrutiny of texture. The recording, which has no overdubs, is projected through various pannings and mixes, creating a rich variety of aural perspectives that the sleeve notes describe as a kind of trompe l’oreille.
The dominant approach is experimental noise as opposed to soundscape. Animals noises are suggested on Correspondences domestiques, and Fromages en crottes is as teeth-jarring as chalk scraped across a blackboard. Seems… far too… familiar is a witty exploration of rattling sounds, while the grindings of Eczema cleverly echo the scratching caused by the skin condition. But this is not purist free-improvisation: Martel does not avoid grooves, for instance, on the chirpily melodic Interlude No.2, and the jazzy Benibraun, while Dresser sets up an East European folkish strumming. Highly stimulating.