BabySue (review by LMNOP, April 2008) :: Visit their site here
This is an excellent example of why we continue to write about music. The person
(or persons) who make up Bass Communion are creating from the school of thought
that says sound is music. Note that this is very different from the idea that
noise is music. Pacific Codex consists of two long tracks: "Pacific Codex 1" and
"Pacific Codex 2." Both pieces last about twenty minutes. These compositions are
very subtle and strange. They sound something like music from Brian Eno's early
ambient albums...except they are much more spooky and sinister and they focus on
textures created by lower frequencies. We cannot recommend this for everyone.
Most listeners will probably not have the patience nor the tolerance necessary
to enjoy this kind of stuff. Here in the continually expanding babysue office
suites, we absolutely LOVE IT. This is easily one of the most odd and hypnotic
instrumental recordings we have heard this century. Not only is the music
strangely hallucinogenic, but the packaging is the best. This release consists
of a regular audio CD, a surround sound DVD-A, and a 36 page booklet all housed
in a cardboard sleeve (designed by Carl Glover/Aleph). Even though this music is
very subtle and restrained...if you turn it up really, REALLY LOUD...it can have
wildly intense effects. Such an EASY top pick for this month... Highly, HIGHLY
recommended without reservation...
Rating: 6 (out of 6 = "UNBELIEVABLY INCREDIBLE" [web site description])
Regen (reviewed by Matthew Johnson, March 28, 2008) ::
Extended metallic drones dive into deep ocean depths on the latest release from
Porcupine Tree guitarist Steven Wilson's ambient project.
Steven Wilson may be best known as the founder of progressive rock outfit
Porcupine Tree, but with his ambient alter ego, Bass Communion, he's released a
number of critically acclaimed albums and collaborated with such luminaries as
Muslimgauze and Vidna Obmana. Wilson's latest Bass Communion release, Pacific
Codex draws on oceanic themes, as indicated by its title, but its source
material is more earth than water.
Joined by Theo Travis, who has also performed
in Porcupine Tree, Wilson recorded the original sounds from the sculptures of
Steve Hubback, an artist and percussionist who creates metal gongs that function
as both instruments and works of art. Processed in the studio and drenched in
reverb and sustain, the slow brassy washes deepen into massive cascading drones.
There's definitely a tidal quality here, but it isn't the crash of waves on a
beach, but rather the gradually shifting currents deep beneath the ocean's
surface, where the sun no longer penetrates and the pressure is heavy enough to
kill. Subtle burbling and watery metallic pings add to the oceanic quality,
giving Pacific Codex a nautical feel not unlike Nurse With Wound's Salt Marie
Celeste, albeit without the ominous presence of a haunted sunken ship. Aptly
enough for a project entitled "Bass Communion," this material is also very heavy
on the bottom end, and works best on quality speakers. An audiophile himself,
Wilson's work is geared toward those of a similar mindset, and along with the
standard CD, Pacific Codex comes packaged with an audio DVD designed for use in
surround-sound home theater systems. Even on a relatively ordinary system,
however, a closed-eyes listen to Pacific Codex is as close as most of us will
get to the lightless depths of the Mariana Trench, and doesn't come with the
risk of decompression sickness.
aQuarius recOrds (review by Andee, Feb 2008) :: Visit their site here
As much as we tried, and we have, we could just never get that into Porcupine Tree. And before you flood us with emails, we tried, we really did. And it's not that it's bad or anything, just not our cup of tea. Steven Wilson's other project though, Bass Communion is a whole 'nother story. Bass Communion as a project explores worlds of deep deep low end, a literal bass communion, how could it not appeal to the aQ drone obsessed?
This release was outrageously limited, and thus we ended up getting only a fraction of the copies we ordered (as in 17 copies is all we have) so we won't go into too much detail, just know that if you want one, best act fast.
Originally Pacific Codex was intended to be released on vinyl, but apparently the notes were so low and the bass so heavy and intense, that they could not be fully realized on vinyl, so the project was reimagined as a cd / dvd release as those digital formats could in fact handle the deep tones. And deep they are. This is some seriously deep, low end sound. At low volumes, much of it is barely audible, at high volumes, the room literally shakes, and the woofers vibrate so intensely the papers on the desk next to the speakers flutter and are blown across the table top. Woah.
And we love bass. We know you do too, so this is like the ultimate low end document, huge billowing metallic shimmers, deep rib cage rattling rumbles, melodies rendered in slow motion, transformed into glacial smears, the feeling is that of being underwater, but WAY underwater, maybe several miles below the surface, everything inky black, save for a few glowing fish, and stray bits of light that somehow made it down from the surface.
What else to say, drone obsessives will lose their mind over this. Imagine cranking your favorite most minimal Lustmord record with the bass cranked to 10 and the treble down to zero. This is the sort of record you don't hear as much as you feel. And yeah, it's minimal sure, but the low end is maximal, threatening to split your stereo right down the middle like some beautiful seismic serenade.
The accompanying dvd is dvd-AUDIO (5.1 surround), so don't try watching it, it's just a black screen, but it is sort of the perfect visual representation of the music within.
Two discs, one cd, one dvd, both housed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, with a full color perfect bound cd sized book filled with gorgeous textural photos of the sea and sky, a printed insert card on super thick textured paper each one hand numbered, all housed in a heavy gauge box / slipcase.
Again, we only have a handful, so when these are gone we will NOT be able to get more as it's already out of print at the label.
Sea Of Tranquility (review by Pete Pardo, March 13th 2008) :: Visit their site here
One of Steven Wilson's many alter ego's happens to be Bass Communion, a little
side project he occasionally dips into when not busy with his main act Porcupine
Tree, or the quickly growing Blackfield. Bass Communion allows Wilson to dive
headfirst into ambient space rock, and Pacific Codex is the latest release, an
album containing just two lengthy soundscapes, housed in a lavish box set that
also includes a booklet containing a plethora of photos of various nature
scenes, as well as a bonus DVD-A with the album in 5.1 surround sound. All
sounds on the CD have been generated from recordings of Steve Hubback's metal
scupltures, played by Steven Wilson and Theo Travis. What exactly does that
mean? Your guess is as good as mine. Bottom line is this-Pacific Codex is a 40
minute journey to the bottom of the ocean, as the ominous & cavernous waves of
sound really make you feel like you are slowly moving 20,000 leagues under the
sea. Think early Tangerine Dream, but with images of underwater scenery
displacing deep dark space. Fans of Wilson's other bands like Porcupine Tree &
Blackfield might get easily bored here, and even those into his No-Man project
might find the minimalistic approach on this release yawn inducing. However, if
you have an open mind, and can appreciate some chilling sounds, give this a try
and be prepared to travel on a mind-altering journey.
BC Magazine (reviewed by Glen Boyd, March 08, 2008) :: Visit their site here
The first thing I will say about Bass Communion is that this is somewhat difficult music. It is definitely not going to be everyone's particular cup o' joe — including fans of its creator's other, better-known band, the great British prog-rock outfit Porcupine Tree.
But that is probably, exactly how Steven Wilson intended it.
Even for those familiar with Wilson's work with Porcupine Tree, or his numerous other "side-projects" like the poppier-sounding Blackfield, Bass Communion is not going to be the easiest pill to swallow. In fact, the more psychedelically, or otherwise adventurously inclined among you might even want to consider a recreational pill of choice before diving in here.
That's not an endorsement for drug-enhanced listening by the way. But rather, the best way I can muster to communicate the fact that this particular Steven Wilson project may just require some attitude adjustment to be best appreciated.
Bass Communion is Steven Wilson's electronic, ambient music project, and has been described by the artist himself as something of a labor of love for him. While the music on this, and other Bass Communion releases such as Loss and Ghosts On Magnetic Tape can't really be compared to anything else out there, the best way to describe the music here would be words like hypnotic, dark, melancholic, and perhaps even disturbing on some sort of subliminal level.
When approached the proper way — there we go with that "attitude adjustment" again — it can also be a starkly beautiful experience.
Like other Bass Communion releases, Pacific Codex mainly consists of these gorgeous, haunting soundscapes that are really more about texture, than any sort of structured musical form. The closest point of musical reference would be the ambient electronica of early Tangerine Dream — though it lacks the rhythm of that particular German brand of layered sound — or a decidedly darker take on the more atmospheric seventies work of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp on albums like Music For Airports.
Pacific Codex is a beautifully packaged double set that includes both a standard CD and a 5.1 DVD-A disc, which is particularly appropriate considering that the bass tones here are some of the deepest sounding I have ever heard. The 5.1 version comes highly recommended for anyone reading this who has the high-end sort of system to handle it.
If you do decide to check this out on standard equipment, you might wanna consider turning the low end down a bit. As for playing it in your car? Well, even if your speakers don't survive the experience, at least you'll gain the instant respect of every hip-hop head on the block.
Pacific Codex also includes a beautiful 36-page book of photographs (mostly scenes of oceans and waves), and comes in a very limited, numbered run of 950 copies that are housed in a heavy gauge box by Carl Glover/Aleph. Limited copies can be ordered at Headphone Dust.
Again, this is not music for everybody — including fans of Porcupine Tree. But for those who are willing, Bass Communion provides a dark, but beautiful ride to the edge of the abyss.
Just make sure your system, and your head can handle it.
Chain D.L.K. (reviewed by Mike V, June 07, 2008) :: Visit their site here
What I immediately appreciate about this album is the carefully constructed
experience arranged for the listener. The modest or veiled cover of the disc
tells us very little about what type of music is contained therein (at a glance
it reads more like chemistry than it does music release), but I was pleasantly
surprised to find a 30+ page booklet filled not with excessive writing, prose,
or details about how to understand the music, but with photographs that suggest
numerous aquatic environments that might enhance the listener’s perspective
while spinning. This is a nice touch considering that music is not limited to
just an auditory experience.
Bass Communion’s Theo Travis and Steven Wilson showcase two contrasting
soundworlds, called Pacific Codex 1 and 2. Of behind-the-scenes crediting for
the album is Steve Hubback, whose metal sculptures provide the source material
for the disc. How BC go about creating the textures is not specified, which
makes each listen of the Codexes more compelling.
Perhaps it’s a power of suggestion in the booklet but the unfolding of the
symbiotic relationship between metal, air, and water is a constant through the
course of the album. Careful attention is given to the interaction of the
electronics with Hubback’s instruments -the illuminating of partials, complete
control of fluctuating densities, large sound masses adjacent to immersive
microsounds, and an overall volume-centric approach to form. The color of the
music drifts between dark greys and whites to the furthest ends of the color
spectrum in other moments. The performances themselves are decidedly organic,
which gives a solid foundation for the electronic manipulations. In closing, I
am also impressed with the cohesion of the disc, as the overall experience
leaves the listener feeling whole, as though the high tide has just receded
after a pensive day.
Pacific Codex is a fine project that will provide hours of return listens, be
they focused or environmental. Inside the case one will find a standard cd of
the album, as well as a DVD containing surround mixes, additional photography
and credits for the release. Cheers to Bass Communion for going the extra few
miles at the service of the musical experience for the listener. Highly
recommended album, particularly the physical release.
4.5 out of 5 stars