Solo bass has been a quietly growing genre of music since Victor Wooten came along and stuck it to the establishment. Of course, at some level, it is inevitable. As long as people have existed, they have taken crazy ideas and tried to make them work. Many times, they fail miserably, like the Segway. But other ideas- like solo bass- are more sustainable, if not mainstream.
Marco Rodi is a solo bassist in Canada. He’s pretty damn good at it too. Check out his vids HERE and his website HERE. Edounardo (what does that mean?) happens to be his first solo bass album, recorded when he was pretty young. So how does it stand up?
It stands up well. This is clearly a musical album, intended to make people feel good, not have their jaws sweep the floor with technique. Often, the strummed parts are quite danceable too, like on the actually quite beautiful ‘Energetic Soustraction’. But that track is a bit of an exception. Most of the tracks are moody excursions into the tonal colors available on the electric bass, with a particular emphasis on the chiming harmonics made famous by Jaco Pastorius. Sample “Preparation” and “X-Ray Melody”, and the completely weird but wonderful passage at the end of “The Cruisade”.
The two big strengths that this guy has are enthusiasm and a desire to say **** you to all the detractors of the electric bass. I personally think, such bass players should be more mainstream, and be contributing this sort of thing to mainstream music i.e. rock and pop bands. Because – and you should all know this – the bass is capable of some pretty bloody gorgeous sounds, even without any electro-trickery involved. I’ve only been playing for a couple of years, and I can attest to that fact. As always, it only requires an individual with sufficient reserves of balls and shamelessness to put such a thing forward. In Canada, here’s our man.
This is clearly a musical album, intended to make people feel good, not have their jaws sweep the floor with technique
Faults? Firstly, any instrumental album done on only one instrument beginning to end (even Piano albums, methinks), are hard to swallow in one go. The reason is that while the person playing the instrument might have a lot to say, there are only a limited number of timbres that can be coaxed out of every instrument. Granted, the electric bass has more of a variety than most instruments (percussive, chiming, pinging, choral, melodic, and of course, bass), but still, it would be hard to hold the attention of non-bass n00bs. Secondly, the grooving is not perfect, in the sense of being studio ready. That said, he makes up for it in terms of a certain joie de vivre, if you will.
That said, considering the young age at which Rodi recorded this (he is 24), it is a DAMN good effort. I played it to a friend of mine who is as interested in instrumental music as Paris Hilton is in quantum physics. This was able to hold his attention for quite a while. From the tribal percussion and moodiness on “The Boat”, to the little pings and ticks and things on “Old Bluesy”, Rodi has clearly left no stone unturned to ensure that the limitations of single instrument albums are overcome. This is inspiring stuff. I’m surely going to do something similar.
And you know what the best – THE best- thing about this? There is no wank-assery in sight. Not for miles. It’s proper songs with structure. Sure, it will not appeal to the majority to your Lady Gaga loving people, but who wants that?
What is the value of such an album? I think it’s important for young musicians who sit in a room and woodshed away to get out and jam as much as possible and be mad about what we are doing. It is critical. Marco is 24 and an engineering student. Wrap that around your head, Mr.-I’m-too-busy-to-practice. Enjoy this, feel inspired and miserable at the same time. This sounds right.
- El Bajista
More BASS/SOLO BASS reviews HERE.