Tuesday, 2 April 2013

SeLKA - Bass Transformed

Just a little while ago, a member joined Thunder Row and submitted some promo material for a Netherlands Bassist named Franz SeLKA. Based on the samples, I decided to have a go with his album, Transformation, and I must say that I am impressed. I've always had an ear for the experimental, and this album explores some of the best the bass has to offer. From sweeping fretless passages to some very creative Avant-garde jams, this collection soars and grabs you by the ear to pull you into the experience.

Album Review
Genre: Fusion/Abient/Prog

Franz SeLKA is a remarkably skilled bassist who makes use of modern technology to bring his brand of fusion to - in my opinion - a younger audience. But even if you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to your jazz flavour, I recommend giving this band a try; you will be surprised... and quite pleasantly so.

First off, how about a brief BIO, from his CD Baby page.

"Bass player, composer and sound designer. Studied and performed music since early ages. Full scholarship BA student, graduated from IBU with honors in performance and composition. Academic studies and performances with Aydin Esen, Ilhan Usmanbas, Butch Morris, Kurt Weiss, Ricky Ford and others. Advance studies with Aydin Esen in composition and electronics.

Debut album "SeLKA xyz" is recorded in Paris/Amsterdam/Istanbul and featuring: Aydin Esen, Gary Husband, Owen Hart, Jr. and Volkan Oktem.

SeLKA is foremost a recording musician. Formally trained in the jazz tradition, SeLKA is a bass player; his technique, the best of what his generation offers. He is a composer, a sound designer producing original work. His priority while performing is the entertainment of his audiences usually by staying on the cutting edge, frequently presenting new material.

His popularity in the Europe music scene however, comes firstly from his unpredictable yet down to earth demeanor on and off stage. Throughout his career, SeLKA has partnered with renowned pianist Aydin Esen with whom he has been regularly playing, recording and touring around the world. His other collaborations and performances include the likes of Wolfgang Muthspiel, Gene Jackson, Gary Husband, Butch Morris, Ricky Ford, Owen Hart, Jr. Bilal Karaman, and Volkan Oktem, among several others."

Though the styles are different, the album sort of reminds me of an old 1976 Gino Vannelli album called “The Gist Of The Gemini” (another fantastic foray into the world of the experimental). Gino’s brother, Joe, plays keyboard on that one, and makes use of synth pads in a similar fashion as are found on Transformations. Synth pads aren’t everybody’s cup of tea in music, but on SeLKA’s album, they accent the bass and lay down the carpet on which the thunder rolls.

The album consists of seven songs; the time runs just under thirty five minutes.

01 - Reel
02 - Love Spell
03 - Gaius
04 - May I (Alt Take)
05 - X-Zone
06 - Dream On
07 - Sense

The great thing about this album, bass-wise, is that all the other instruments and sounds are in such different registers, that when that fretless talks, you clearly recognise it as the most powerful sensation of the whole album. That’s not to say that the higher registers don’t fill their own spaces nicely, but the people who put TRANSFORMATION together did so with skill, and the understanding that we’re talkin’ BASS here.

REEL, GAIUS, MAY I, and X-ZONE are livelier jams, full of excellent improv-style, free-form bass expressions and some very interesting effects and electronics. MAY I is the one whose synth reminded me a lot of Joe Vannelli’s playing on THE GIST OF THE GEMINI. And the bass is soft and sinister under it all. X-ZONE features some interesting synthetic vocal effects as well.

LOVE SPELL, the longest track at just over eight minutes, is a style unto itself, and ranks as my fave on the whole project. The intro alone made me shiver. The body of the song features some bass sounds that will take your breath away. Nice keyboards, too. The piano and bass jam that happens about two-thirds of the way through is slick and infectious.

DREAM ON is a true bass-lover’s delight. Mwah to your heart’s content, friends.

SENSE, the album’s closer, is soft and sweet, a showcase of SeLKA’s talent as a bassist. The range of mood on his playing is introspective and outrageously good.

I’m glad these folks introduced me to their music; I can add TRANSFORMATIONS to my list of quality projects, to be listened to on a regular basis.

Give it a try; I think you'll be seduced by the skill and range of this bass player!

Available on CD Baby, iTunes, and other download stores.

And don't forget to check out his YOU TUBE CHANNEL.

Good work, Brother! Glad to have you with us on Thunder Row!

Album Participation:

AYDIN ESEN: Piano, keyboards, live electronics, and programming
SeLKA: Electric basses, synthetic basses and programming
Guest artists: RANDY K: Voice; BILAL KARAMAN: Guitar; DMITRY GELFLAND: Speech

© 2013 CL Seamus for Thunder Row