In 2007 Daniel Diaz released
LOW Vol 1
music for electric and acoustic basses
No synths used, no drums, no percussion, no guitars, just basses.
An album of original compositions recorded by Argentinian bassist/composer Daniel Diaz in Paris, France between 2005 and 2007, performed exclusively on seven different acoustic and electric Basses.
The CD features both Solo bass pieces and orchestrated multi-track tunes, with basses performing bass parts AND guitar, keyboards, percussion parts et all.
This bass extravaganza is the result of Daniel Diaz’s 25 years performing and composing as a bassist all around the world, and it’s interesting listening for any bass player.
All noises produced and recorded by D.D. at The Pleasure Dome, Paris, during 2005-2007. Cover art by Sergio Pittaluga.
Buy CD&Download here
Schecter “62 Jazz Bass” 4 string (w/black nylon strings)
Custom made Sekine Fretless Bass 4 strings.
Riverhead “Low” 4 string Bass tuned B/E/A/D with “floppy” strings. Steinberger 5 string bass tuned E/A/D/G/C
L’arrivée Acoustic 5 string acoustic bass guitar tuned E/A/D/G/C.
Michael Kelly Dragonfly 5 string acoustic bass guitar tuned E/A/D/G/C.
1900 Argentinean Contrabass.
Street sounds used as background noise and rhythmic loop on “La Baja”.
D.D.’s voice used to construct drum loop on “Sans Apostrophe”.
As a composer and recording artist who is mostly a bass player, a solo bass recording might seem to be a logical step in my career. But it took me 25 years and 6 albums as a solo artist/composer to finally dare to release such a project. And in the end, this is not exactly a “Solo Bass Record”.
This is an album of music performed exclusively on Basses.
During pre-production, in what would become my first solo output (1993 The Years Alone), I decided to avoid the temptation of releasing a truly “bassist” album. Instead, as many fellow bass players have done, decided to concentrate my first solo statement on my composer-arranger-multi-instrumentalist goals rather than taking the more “risky” (critic-wise) virtuoso solo playing approach.
This was a wise decision, because by that time (in a world “after Jaco”) the standard in the art of bass solos was already extremely high.
So I kept this low-key attitude (no bass pyrotechnics) throughout my whole career, until my last LP, 2005 Lugar Comun.
Even if that trio CD was actually a tour de force for any bass player (trying to keep groove and harmonic/comping roles in an acoustic bass) the main focus was on the songs and overall sound. Actually there are no bass solos in the whole album (other than the 1 minute unaccompanied intro to Luiza).
Through the years I kept exploring the possibilities of the solo bass playing especially after moving to France and adapting to a “life without a piano” for the first time in my composer’s life. These solo-bass excursions are briefly represented in my recorded work (Interlude N°1 in “Maquina Dura” and Dos Oceanos in “Maquina Blanda”). Solo bass playing has always been my own private pleasure, be it studying, composing or just relaxing at home, and my little Steinberger bass was my travel companion around the world, so I ended up playing solo bass quite a lot.
Eventually the time seemed right to make a CD, just me and my bass (basses), by the end of 2005: after touring Lugar Comun’s technically demanding repertory and after many years of exploring my current set-up of 7 different basses and many custom built pedals, I decided to give it a go with this little self-indulgent solo bass festival.
Now: the original approach that allowed me to make a full length CD without the monotony of the unaccompanied solo bass formula was to think about some tracks as standard compositions with different instruments playing each part. Then I arranged/orchestrated them using just my basses. To achieve a full sounding orchestration, different instrument combinations, effects, and special techniques (prominently the volume pedal and the artificial harmonics technique I’m so proud of!) were used.
This “orchestrated” approach was used on the most traditional compositions like Vals Polaco, Zamba Del Bajo and La Baja.
To explore the sonic possibilities and frequencies blend of my different basses (believe me, is not easy to build a clear-sounding 16 track master using just low end) some preliminary “sonic etudes” were put together, just to test the better sounding combinations (Fx/Instrumet/playing-technique/Preamps, etc). Some of these Ad Lib multi-track improvisations were mixed and included in the final cut as “Abstract” episodes (Abstract 1,2, &3).
On the other hand, I did dare to perform many pieces in a more traditional “unaccompanied solo bass” format. But instead of the more obvious virtuoso-showing-off approach, I decided to adapt to the bass some of my compositions and just play the songs solo, using the bass almost as a Baritone Guitar.
The songs that made it to the final track-list are mostly performed with my Acoustic Bass, with just one song using the electric (Sans Apostrophe) and one with the Upright Bass (Interlude #2).
I also tried some more adventurous sounding solo performances using various real-time effects (pedals) as well. As with the arranged “abstract” pieces, I recorded some free improvisations on both acoustic and electric solo bass, just to get new spontaneous ideas of directions and sounds I could use for the solo bass tunes on the LP.
A couple of these improvisations were included in the final cut of LOW vol1: those are Impromptu #1. Both pieces are free form, absolutely improvised “live” performances. The more “orchestrated” sound on Impromptu#2 was achieved using two different preamps feeding two tracks in my multi-track recorder, one with a huge delay effect, and the other with distortion, wah-wah and filter pedals, and using an A/B foot switch to change from one to the other in real time, so I could play live with channel 2 above a long delayed chord just played in channel 1.
One brief exception to the main rule (JUST BASS!) is the use of my voice to record a drumbeat to play over in Sans Apostrophe. I used to practice this song singing that simple groove to myself while playing, so it made sense and was fun to record it that way. I sang the kick&snare part, and then overdubbed the hi-hat pattern, and then I played the Solo Bass song over that.
The second exception is the use of a field recording to bring some street ambience as a background track for La Baja. The recording I used, taken in the street with a tiny microphone attached to my pocket while strolling around Paris, included some breath noise I made that provided quite a rhythmical pattern that goes very well with the chacarera rhythm of La Baja.
The rest is nothing but Basses, absolutely.
Hope this record sounds interesting for fellow bass players AND other music lovers around.
Paris, March 2007