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Brandon Lopez - vilevilevilevilevilevilevile (TAO Forms)

3 May 2023

Solo bass records have a special place in jazz history. While the double bass may be best known as a groove machine, it is, in the right hands, an instrument capable of an enormous range of expression. So it is with Brandon Lopez on his second solo bass album vilevilevilevilevilevilevile. The New Yorker doesn’t simply pluck his strings, adding the occasional arco passage. No, Lopez treats his bass like a tool, one to be used (and abused) as he sees fit in order for it to do what he wants – needs – it to do. Thus he bows, plucks, strums, slaps, scrapes, and squeezes all four strings, not to mention treats the body to all manner of thumps and smacks, and often lays his own keening, wordless voice over the top. He pulls cries and whispers from his instrument, as well as moans, groans, grunts, and growls that indicate his mood at the time of recording wasn’t one of euphoria. Song titles bear this out: “RealBadVibes,” “LikeTheEdgeOfAMachete” (which also appears later en español), the title tune, whose seven uses of the word “vile” mean business. (The note inside the case provides a hint as to why.) Lopez has a lot of negative feelings that need to be let out, and vilevilevilevilevilevilevile is an impressive expression of his intent.