Danish, Berlin-based experimental double bass player Adam Pultz Melbye plays on his solo album Wade on the custom-made FAAB – a feedback-actuated augmented double bass (developed in 2019 in collaboration with Icelandic, Athens-based luthier Halldór Úlfarsson, comprised of a traditional double bass, augmented by the insertion of an 8-inch speaker into its lower back, the application of pickups, an amp and a microprocessor). The FAAB can commence static arco drones, complimented by digitally processed enigmatic field recordings recorded in the Wadden Sea in Southwestern Denmark and at the Kreuzberg borough in Berlin from July 2022 through February 2024 in Berlin. Pultz Melbye already experimented with homages to water management architecture on his solo album Dam (2018), recorded inside a dam hall in Bogong Village, Australia.
A significant aspect of Pultz Melbye’s work with the FAAB is to uncover territories between performative proficiency and the physical and digital resistance of the instrument, with a focus on the dynamic relationship between performer and instrument and the precariousness of such encounters. His work with developing signal processing algorithms for the FAAB reflects this interest and involves designing digital behavior that escapes the control of the performer.
The first, title piece captures clicky and bubbly sounds from the field recordings at the Wadden Sea, still unidentified at the time of writing, but now understood as the release of gas by microorganisms living in the seabed silt. The processed piece, with its accumulating layers of signal processing, and the feedback-induced self-oscillations of the bass strings of the FAAB, suggests a sense of intimate meditation about an unsettling statis. Symbolically, some of the field recordings were taken from a cemetery and backyard in Berlin. The second, shorter piece «Kammerslusen» is titled in honor of the Wadden Sea sluice bridge that provides much of this piece’s field recordings – the opening of sluice doors, cars passing over the metal bridge, and a boat engine, all entering a dialog with the pulsating string feedback of the FAAB.
Wade matches abstract, drone feedback, the lively ecology of the Wadden Sea, and the sonic properties of the FAAB as musical allies, while using the subtle, emergent rhythmical patterns to carve out a collective sonic and performative agency that is abstract but at the same time also quite tangible.
Adam Pultz (feedback-actuated augmented bass, signal processing, field recordings)