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Martin Taxt - Second Room [Sofa Music - 2022]

Second Room is the tenth release from Norwegian microtonal tuba player/ composer Martin Taxt. The album is part of a series of releases that see Taxt looking at the relationship between music and architecture. It’s a four-track affair that not only utilises his own Tuba playing, but a second tuba, a double bass, a church organ, handbells and a modular synthesizers to create often deep droning, buzzing and simmering sound worlds.

The release appears on Norway’s Sofa Music-who has a knack for hunting down the most interesting & creative in modern composition/ sound art. And as we’ve come to expect from the label we get a nicely arty presentation to the CD packaging- the six-panel fold digipak features a murky grey, and subtle bright orange colour scheme. On the front and back covers we find what looks like rough floor plans laid out in thin orange lines over the grey- and inside a picture of the five pieces that play on the album, and a page write-up about the album/its concept by Mr Taxt., 
 
Each of the four tracks featured have runtimes around eleven minutes. We open with “Cave Vs Nest” here we find a hovering and seemingly sombre selection of building layers of tuba, and subtle jangling handbells. It makes for a decidedly glum and simmer opening track, with it having a decidedly piping organic doom drone feel. As we move on we have “Swelling Forms Of Domes”- the track opens with a spaced and repeated bell chime. As it progresses, we find slowly simmering lines of tuba tone appearing- giving the whole thing a decidedly brooding and slightly stark in the mountains ritual vibe. With later on subtle synth sustains and jagged tone darts been adding to the massive towering, yet slight unease quality of the track- which really seems to press into one's temples.
 
On the second half of the release we have “Paving Seen From Above”, and this opens in a much more meditative and tranquil manner. It opens with harmonical stuck bell tones, which start in an even fashion, but become more of a  blend of clustered lull 'n' reverb drift, with a growing selection of warbling ‘n’ whistling tones created by the modular synth. Within its second half the more simmering ‘n’ hovering bass tones of the double bass, tuba’s, and church organ come into play- and I’m getting more of a feeling of brooding Herzog landscape vastness. The final track “Disruption, Disjunction, Deconstruction” begins with a sustained and stretch bass tone thickness, as the track progresses we find blends of slowly shifting billows, slight grating tone drift, a few jarring neck-like strikes, and latter reels of constant climbing-yet-waveringly brooding synth key tone. The whole track feels akin to looking into a vast tarry-like mass, which either ripples, shimmers, or broodingly bubbles.
 
Second Room highlights a rather intriguing and unusual selection of instruments- yet for the bass focus of many of the sonic tools utilised here, there are surprising moments of meditative grace and sweeping grandness present. It will certainly be interesting to see where Taxt goes next with this series of releases that focus on where sound and architecture meet. Find out more here

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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