Art isn’t static, and by virtue it cannot exist in a vacuum. Just as a previously unnoticed detail in a painting can irrevocably alter the beholder’s perspective of it, knowledge of the context music is made in can change the listening experience entirely. I happened to come across Mark Dresser’s Tines of Change relatively versed in his musical output, experientially familiar with the inner workings of an upright bass and having superficially researched the intricacies of the custom bass used on this album. I cannot speak to how a first listen without this context would diverge from my own experience, but the beauty of improvised music of this unbridled nature is that nobody’s perspective holds more value than another’s.
The third track on this album is titled Harmonity, and even the context I had going into it couldn’t save me from its all-consuming grasp. One would be hard pressed to find a solo bass recording that sends as many unit structures of sound barrelling toward the listener at once as this one does. The individual specialized pickups beyond the instrument’s bridge coalesce into the startling fidelity of Dresser’s feathery touch underneath it, rendering attempts to pinpoint sources of vibration a futile exercise. The detailed tonal warmth engineer Alexandria Smith gets out of the beautiful vessel luthier Kent McLagan fashioned for a marksman seasoned as Dresser allows them to form an invisible trio, disguised as a single organism. Let this music move you.