Agustí Fernández/Rafał Mazur

August 1, 2022

With No Words
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Should there be any argument that the piano and bass guitar can expressively put aside their melodic instincts and function almost solely as caustic sound sources than With No Words provides the evidence. A pandemic-era compromise, the program was created when Barcelona pianist Agustí Fernández and Krakow’s acoustic bass guitarist Rafał Mazur were unable to record in person.

Wanting to continue their developed partnership, the two, who play with a clutch of other creative musicians, decided to maintain a dialogue by exchanging sound files. Starting with Fernández each sent a solo track to the other, who responded with a solo incorporating the ideas suggested by the previous file. That’s why the alternating Catalan-Poland tracks increase in abrasiveness and invention as they evolve.

Tellingly. the improvisations literally resemble one another’s output, with rubs, smacks, crashes and rattles part of the shared vocabulary. Throughout the pianist spends more time stroking and plucking his instrument’s internal string or vibrating objects on them than he does stopping keys. He never plays a keyboard melody. His sequences are most attuned to the choppy glissandi pulled from the inner piano harp and the vibrations that ricochet from the bottom soundboard. Mazur’s brisk and knotty expositions suggest that his rubs and scrawls frequently move up the guitar neck and the squeak of fingers moving along the strings are also heard. Besides strums and twangs however he also uses a bow to scrape arco timbres from the string set.

Accelerating in speed, vibrations and power, the final two entries find Fernández creating a climatic statement with anvil like percussive pressure blended with bell-like inner piano resonations. With sprawling thumps Mazur’s concluding action confirms the power and expanse of his chosen instrument with wood-and-string rattles

Look elsewhere for a demonstration of piano-bass lyricism. But if you want to experience what else can be done by accomplished players who incorporate noise and force into their improvisations hone in on this disc.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Dear Rafał 1 2. Dear Agustí 1 3. Dear Rafał 2 4. Dear Agustí 2 5. Dear Rafał 3 6. Dear Agustí 3 7. Dear Rafał 4 8. Dear Agustí 4 9. Dear Rafał 5 10. Dear Agustí 5

Personnel: Agustí Fernández (piano) and Rafał Mazur (acoustic bass guitar)