Björn Meyer: Provenance (ECM 2566)

Provenance

Björn Meyer
Provenance

Björn Meyer 6-string electric and acoustic bass guitars
Recorded August 2016, Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: September 15, 2017

Björn Meyer is perhaps best known to ECM listeners as bassist for Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin before leaving the band in 2012, and by his appearances on albums of Anouar Brahem, notably 2014’s Souvenance. But the kaleidoscope he has assembled for this 2017 solo album is as surprising as it is fated. Each of its twelve vignettes acts as a window not into but out of Meyer’s singular approach to his six-string electric and acoustic basses. Through their diurnal dialogues, he elicits a sundial’s worth of possible directions, transforming reveries into grounded experiences.

In the opening “Aldebaran,” exquisite suspensions of disbelief bleed into a space where contact of flesh on metal leaves traces of communication, and where the barest whisper of a string is also its credo. Its evocations of wind and water are shared by “Trails Crossing,” which finds Meyer riding a current of arpeggios, which by their changes of direction imply a crossing not only of trails but also of those traveling along them, as if at that meeting point one might witness souls jumping from body to body in search of blessed purpose.

The title track is a spectrum of emotional transference, a series of genetic equations spliced and sequenced into chains of melodic integrity. Here, as elsewhere along the album’s trajectory, tasteful applications of electronic delays and reverb magnify what is already felt spiritually. Where “Pendulum” and “Pulse,” for example, are linked to rhythms of movement, “Garden Of Silence” and “Three Thirteen” achieve their impact through understatement.

Against such fullness of expression, the acoustic bass provides ever-expanding possibilities, spanning the gamut from funky (“Squizzle”) to descriptive (“Merry-Go-Round”) and, when combined with electric (“Dance”), sonic origami in reverse. Just as the electric resonates through harmonic comet tails in “Traces Of A Song,” so does the acoustic seek an origin story to unite them both. And in “Garden Of Silence,” by harpist and singer Asita Hamidi (1961-2012), to whom this album is dedicated, he activates a trail of molecules from instinct to action that by the end leads us back to where we began, hopeful and with all the necessary gear intact.

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