MATT SARGENT / ZACH ROWDEN – Tide (For Ten Basses)

Marginal Frequency

In periods when nothing seems to align, the brain is apparently unwilling to perform its regular tasks (not to mention finding the strength to elaborate on sound-related complexities). Then a record like Tide materializes, and everything starts to make sense again. Simply put, I have exclusively been surrounded by this full-bodied chant for days – if you exclude my random car stereo selection in the morning drive to work, that is – and still have the wish to regularly bath in its agglomerative harmony.

Two versions of the piece are presented, both executed by bassist Zach Rowden who superimposed eleven parts while cued by composer Matt Sargent. The latter’s interactive software sends sine waves to the performer’s headphones, in order for him to gradually slide to new pitches during the track’s evolution. This primitive chronicling can’t possibly translate the awesomeness of what we hear, for which further use of hyperbolic adjectives would reinforce this writer’s stance on human language as a mere means to nourish a hungry ego, and restate its absolute inadequateness for arriving at the quivering essence of the matter. Perhaps the press release’s stark definition – a “massive acoustic event” – is the better choice.

Only, we have the usual problem of who is witnessing that event. Its comprehension is warranted by simultaneous perception – a condition one is born with, which can’t be acquired by “studying” – and by the capacity of discerning perennial movement within an apparent stasis. Sargent and Rowden’s effort is directed to someone able to gather useful data from the intrinsic shifting of layered signals, or realize that a circumscribed time segment can connect with infinity notwithstanding the temporal bracket, whatever the harmonic oscillation involved.

In the studio version, the arco that sets the strings in growling/quaking mode is a medium summoning spirits whose persuasive power is enormous. The result is a vibrant drone comprising intoxicating subsonics and sturdy tones that may be sustained for minutes, or just glide in between different stages of awareness. However, the actual wonder comes from the live rendition. Recorded in a grain silo in Buffalo, NY, it’s vaguely reminiscent of the vibrational might of certain Glenn Branca milestones, a veritable mantra of flying bombers escorted by muscular angels. The richness produced by those hovering partials is directly absorbed by the psychophysical receptors, improving our being right then and there.

Countless individuals, convinced of “communicating” on “deeper levels”, would actually need such a cure to deliver themselves from the delusions of extramundane dogmatism at varying degrees of periphrastic illiteracy. Tide is an unambiguous example of music that expands the mind while enhancing the organism that contains it. A credible illustration of the laws of cosmos exercising their functional rules by sheer resonance, without anyone’s infirm argumentations hindering the flowing of a ringing fullness into evolutionary silence. On the other hand, upsetting the illogical fantasies of a feeble-minded mortal can be a dangerous move. So watch out.

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