Making a successful album focused on the double bass takes a number of specific factors that all must align. Clearly, a talented soloist heads the list, with near-flawless intonation, wide knowledge of extended techniques, a sound that is pleasing in all registers of the instrument and does not become "breathy" or anemic-sounding in thumb position, and a keen sense of musicianship. But of course a successful album does not exclusively rely on the soloist. The music itself must also be taken into consideration, and with the double bass, this is especially true. It is not enough to simply write (or transpose) for the instrument. The composer/transcriptionist must posses a clear and intimate knowledge of the instrument, its strengths and weaknesses, what it is and is not capable of doing, and how to use all that information to actually compose a work that is not just playable but also pleasing.
Fortunately for listeners, this solo album by Swedish bassist Björn Malmqvist showcases all of these necessary characteristics. Featuring a varied list of living composers from countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, extended techniques of the instrument are truly put to the test. Malmqvist not only executes these demands with skill and agility, but also brings an enjoyable and thoughtful musicality to the listener. His recorded sound is quite pleasing and well-focused. Been looking for a new, quality double bass album to add to your collection? Here it is.