The Tuba Four


The superb tuba-ist Dan Peck blows his notes again on the simply-titled Solo LP (TUBAPEDE RECORDS tb01), and a unique powerful blaster-thumper-droner it be. As you may recall he’s a member of The Gate, a New York trio that produces a unique form of doom metal sludge out of an all-acoustic setup, with many free jazz inflections thrown in…on this 2012 LP there are two side-long solo pieces produced by his gigantic swollen lips making intimate contact with saliva-laden brass mouthpiece. For when you’re in the mood for relaxing sleep music, tune in to the A side ‘Longus Tonus’, for a notable piece of heavy bass-tone minimalism…using possibly the acoustic tuba, Peck simply lets rip with slow and long blarty eruptions, much like a sleepy volcano trying to decide whether to switch from dormant to active mode, or an enormous bear stirring itself out of hibernation with snores and yawns heaving from its belly. There’s an underlying rhythm to this one, and it pretty much matches the rhythm of human breathing. Well, what else would I expect from a tuba player? But it’s fair to say that Peck has taken the deep listening lessons of Pauline Oliveros to heart – and to his lungs and nostrils and diaphragm as well.

After that “musical snoring” delight, flip over to ‘Satanitorium’, which by way of total contrast is an enlivened bacchanal of free noise, possibly rendered by El Peckstein using his amplified or prepared tuba setup. There’s at least three layers of activity here, but it sounds so spontaneous and fresh that I’d hate to find out he used overdubs to realise it. One tuba provides a bass rhythm, another tuba parps out free jazz utterances in a higher range with the uninhibited wailery of a lost BYG refugee from 1969, while an entire tray of cutlery plucked straight from a nearby Queens restaurant has been brought into play to serve as a percussion track. Like I say, I’d prefer to believe this stormer was all done live in one take by Old Peckermeister performing as a one-man band, but then I can’t even imagine what such a performance would even look like. Life is full of disappointments. This B side is a fiery devil fer sure, hence the title which combines suggestions of satanism and a refuge for mentally unstables, most apt for this diabolical episode of unhinged whoop-and-clatter which you’re likely to hear played in the ballroom for when the annual Saint Vitus Dance troupe strut their stuff, often in competition with the local Tarantellas and the Parkinsons Collegiate. To top it off, there’s a cactus flower image on the cover and a quote on the back cover from Nikola Tesla about how the earth is going to split in two due to vibrations produced by expansion and contraction. Great! I think we received this pecky monster in April 2013.

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