A lovely archival release from Linear Obsessional, documenting a 2006 outing in Nottingham for Wastell’s solo tam-tam piece, Vibra. In his release notes, Wastell says that it was conceived as a tribute to the artist, musician and writer Roger Sutherland. Wastell had recorded the piece three times, releasing those recordings on different labels, and played it live several times by the time this date swung around.
Vibra is marvellously nuanced, its gorgeously metallic drone increasing in volume then receding in an almost tidal fashion. But what I really like about this recording is its physicality, the thick muscularity of its tones. Wastell is well practised in walking a line between absence and presence in his playing – listen to his recent trio recording with John Butcher and Burkhard Beins to see him slip in and out of silence like a sonic ghost – so it’s always nice to see him let rip a bit.
Even in its quieter moments you can make out the individual beats of Wastell’s mallets, like tiny links in the chain of burnished sound, slowly working towards several reverberant crescendos. Credit also to Wastell for not trying to edit out the various coughs and shuffles from the audience which, although slightly ruffling the ambience, definitely help to put us listeners right there in the room.
Great stuff, and much more than a historical curio.