steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Klaus Janek

"Caspar" CD


Genres: experimental, improv, double bass

195 Three Oaks Dr
Athens GA 30607

Dec 9 - 15 2002

The Solponticello label's output so far has consistently managed to surprise and delight critics. Right from release number one, their output has received the type of acclaim very few labels could even dream of. And Caspar is no different.

Musically documenting the life experiences of the tragic Kaspar Hauser, Klaus Janek's album is an extraordinary feat, especially considering the only instrument he uses (yes, this is a purely solo venture) is the infamous double bass. And not only that, this is entirely live; no editing took place. With those facts in mind, it's amazing to consider just how many different sounds and styles Janek can squeeze out of his instrument. Thumps, booms, scrapes, strokes, and even the occasional squeal can be heard. The effects are mesmerizing.

Parts I through VII are like an unwinding story. At times it'll be frustrated and urgent (Parts IV and I are prime examples), and at others it will be loose and more subdued (the jazzy bass-and-scat combination of Part III is brought to mind). "Prayer Beads," meanwhile, is the odd one out. Finishing the album in a deceivingly light mood, the Marc Johnson composed piece sees Janek actually using his instrument in a more traditional manner. Bizarrely, though, it goes perfectly with the other pieces and really ends the album off in good style.

As an album, Caspar is very successful. It is clear that Klaus Janek is a prime force on the avant-garde double bass scene (which has recently gotten much attention thanks to bassists such as Mark Dresser and Dominic Duval). It will be interesting to see how his next release turns out.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 8 tracks; distributed by the label; released 2002]