“Prosser's compositions develop elegantly, but rarely in straight lines... this quartet pushes the listener down several paths at once, creating a thrilling tension among the players even though they're actually tightly in sync.”
ABOUT THE ALBUM
via Whirlwind Recordings
The searching, cyclical aura of double bassist and composer Hayden Prosser’s debut acoustic album 'Tether' fascinatingly finds its roots in electronic and process music. Hailing from Somerset, England, and now based in Berlin, Prosser met up with New York pianist Elias Stemeseder – the starting point for this quartet’s sound with tenor saxophonist Philipp Gropper and drummer Max Santner – which set up the piano-and-bass connectivity that informs many of the album’s eleven original tracks.
Prosser’s compositional angle is often influenced by his transcriptions of electronic phrases and programs – these are then translated into the analogue environment to be expanded upon. ‘All's’ starting motif, for example, mimics synthesized arpeggios, beginning with one strong idea that reshapes itself through improvisation before finally morphing into another. This concept of shaping a single line and then splitting it to be picked up by other instruments, including Gropper’s subtly inviting tenor funk, establishes a strong sense of fluctuating textures and space (its detuned ‘musical box’ piano reprise adding a hint of foreboding). The dynamic, shard-like album art commission illustrates these ideas well – together yet disparate; tense then serene – reflecting both the band’s performing ethos and Prosser’s long, transitional state of relocation to Germany.
‘Tether’, as a title, subliminally references the electronic output of London duo Plaid (their track of the same name is on a go-to album for the bassist), as well as this quartet’s geographic and logistical challenges of rehearsing and performing together. Intentionally blurring compositional and improvisational meeting and parting, Prosser says his evolving, cyclical phrases and melodies are influenced by the work of his tutors, big-name US artists Drew Gress and Chris Lightcap (“bass players write with a different outlook”) as well as the recordings of Craig Taborn and Tim Berne. Rather than the more traditional structure of stating a theme and jumping off it, creative layered instrumentation is allowed throughout, to form differing, overlapping timbres, as in cathartic, slow-burning opener ‘Undo’ and a handful of interspersed, freely-improvised miniatures such as ‘Glas’ and ‘Small Chance’.
‘Season’s’ leaping-bass vivacity deconstructs into limpid pools of quiet, emphasising its intended tectonic instrumental shifts and colorations, while the dark, piano-clustered awakening of ‘Out Of This’ sets up a hypnagogic ambience for Prosser’s gently resonant bass-string pliancy. In ‘Overturn’, Max Santner’s percussive scintillation sparks tenor cascades and a deeply-plumbed piano momentum; and ‘Rounds’’ mesmeric, crescendoing pulse rises out of searing harmonics, echoic piano and instrumental body knocks, with the bassist’s deep groove threaded through.
"A suite of soundscapes that will surely reward repeated plays, from which the listener will undoubtedly glean new textures and colours." All About Jazz
"What nudges Tether up to borderline addictive is how the melodies filter through... Fascination with this recording continues to grow with each return visit." Bird is the Worm
"A startling debut recording... This is wonderful music deserving of much, much more investigation. A creative musician could build a high tower from here." Sandy Brown Jazz
"Compact sound studies that are structurally finely balanced and well shaped and that cleverly wander between sublime groove and a total absence of metric anchoring." Concerto Magazine
"This is an assured set of pieces, with a clear sense of the philosophy through which composition is approached and a strong unity in the playing. As a debut, it promises a bright career." Jazz Views