Over the last few weeks I’ve been transitioning the Vinyl Anachronist music reviews into something that’s been much more liberating and fun, and Tradknaster from bassist Gus Loxbo is another careful and logical step toward that goal. For the last few years I’ve been reviewing contemporary jazz releases, and I’m always making jokes about the review pile. In the beginning, I tried to review everything they sent because I thought it would teach me to handle any assignment with grace and insight. But after a few years I felt like I was missing out on the music I love, which is quite frankly all over the place. I cannot survive on jazz alone.
There’s one more variable in this equation, and the Gus Loxbo LP qualifies– because it’s an LP. As one miffed reader exclaimed in a comment section, “I can’t find this on vinyl! Why do you call this ‘The Vinyl Anachronist’?” Touché, kind sir. From now on, I want to spend more time on vinyl–audiophile vinyl, anything that sounds fantastic, from any genre I desire.
Gus Loxbo is, technically, a Swedish jazz bassist, but for his solo debut he’s chosen to explore the more experimental side to his original compositions. This is a guttural journey through the inner workings of his instrument–he is to the double bass what Satoko Fujii is to the piano. This is not about playing musical notes on the bass, but rather producing an encyclopedia of possible sounds. There’s the percussion side, of course, the sound of that big hollow wooden body being patted and struck and caressed, but there’s also plenty of stubborn, terse manipulations of the strings.
There are plenty of times where Gus Loxbo sounds like he’s playing the bass for the very first time, and he’s just trying to figure out how to make it work. It’s like Jackson Pollock, however, where a great distance had to be traversed to get to this primal point in time. But then you start hearing deeper into these compositions and you begin to discern rhythms and melodies and finally you realize you’re hearing something new.
It helps, of course, that this LP pressing sounds clean and open and natural. This isn’t so much a Gus Loxbo album as much as it’s Loxbo himself, sitting with you, letting you feel the vibrations straight from the frets. This is not the usual bass-as-leader study–Tradknaster is unusual and weird and introspective, and I find music like this utterly fascinating.