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The solo album of Swedish composer-double bass player-sound designer Johannes Burström, known from his work with art-rock groups as Samuel Hällkvist Center and Television Pickup, is a unique study in the possible connections between generative processes and improvisation. Burström realized this kind of music of chance – a phrase often used by iconoclast composer John Cage, by writing his compositions with a SuperCollider, a platform for audio synthesis and algorithmic compositions.

«Timmer» offers seven double bass improvisations which has been extended through a mosaic of algorithms and intuition. Phrases, onsets, and interstices have been collected, cut up, shuffled by design and by chance, dressed in new timbres and regenerated in 65536 unique versions. Burström’s scores are build upon the motifs and structures of the original improvisations, by highlighting and distorting timbres and temporality. The double bass itself is prepared with objects and custom feedback-based electronics, which creates a hybrid instrument, effectively blurring the line between the acoustic and the digital.

The sonic outcome is quite cerebral, often methodical yet arresting. The dark, deep and often resonant tones of the bass become elastic and fluid, always surprising with their unpredictable timbral qualities and rich, almost infinite sonic range. The metallic preparations on «Gray on Gray» suggest a disturbing feedback-based infinite sustain. «Bass, Handclap, Synthesizer» and «Cheek to Cheek» embrace chaos and indecisiveness and amplifies the arbitrary. On «348» Burström articulates a hesitant duet with a virtual percussionist who insists on developing his own pulse. «Out of Band» is a nuanced drone comprised of light, industrial noises. The last piece, «Room Modes» is a serene meditation on harmonics and transients. The mutated bass of Burström sound now as if it has its own free will, shaping its flow with subtle time shifts and repetitions.

Eyal Hareuveni

Johannes Burström (b, handclaps, synth)


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