Barry Guy – bass
All compositions by Barry Guy (PRS, MCPS). Recorded 11th January 2009 in Vilnius, at St. Catherine’s Church. Mixed and mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. Design by Oskaras Anosovas. Painting by Albert Irvin, BRADY 1986, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 in / 152.4 x 182.9 cm. Barry Guy plays exclusively on Thomastik Bass strings. Producer – Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov
Trackslist: Side A: 1. FIZZLE I 2. FIZZLE II 3. FIZZLE III Side B: 1. FIZZLE IV 2. FIZZLE V
Is there a better all-around bassist with a bow than Barry Guy?
That query may scream sycophantic hyperbole, but in taking stock of the British improviser’s discography it’s an interrogative that can’t help but manifest repeatedly. On Guy’s end the distinction of best isn’t even a peripheral consideration or goal. He’s placed his instrument in near-countless contexts, bringing to it a perfect sense of pitch and dynamics. Five Fizzles for Samuel Beckett is right in line with that sterling track record, and although it shares its name partially with an earlier solo venture, the sounds here are wholly discrete.
Limited to pressing of 300 copies, the vinyl vessel is immediately destined to availability as finite as the EP-sized program. The surroundings are a spacious Lithuanian church where Guy makes ample use of the acoustics, starting the first of five terse pieces with a concentrated display of precision arco dexterity. Spindly pizzicato scuttlings follow in the second, moving on to string plinks and plonks that cascade and carom within the room with the brittleness of a tautly-wound zither. The third part centers on chiming punctuations inserted within a continuous descending and ascending cloud of string strums that soon dissipate into silence.
The second side opens with held tones that swiftly into starkly percussive layers laced with a gorgeous application of decay. Jagged scrapes and emery board rubbings bring forth a myriad of controlled ancillary harmonics on the final piece. Once again the music races by to an abrupt end. The after effect is an immediate desire for more with realization that there’s no more to be had. Perhaps that’s part of the larger point in light of the title Guy attached the piece. Beckett’s storied minimalism and brevity applied to musical means. — Derek Taylor
LP version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)