James Welburn

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Hold (2015), 6.5/10
Barchan: Soliton (2015), 6/10
W/V (2018), 6.5/10

British-born Norway-based bassist James Welburn recorded Hold (2015) with help from the Necks' drummer Tony Buck, basically an outgrowth of their Project Transmit, that recorded Project Transmit (Vitamin, 2008), and of their Transmit, that recorded Radiation (2015) with Magda Mayas on keyboards.

The ten-minute Naught layers an abrasive drone over the gloomy atmosphere created by the loop of bass and drums, and the drone stages a crescendo becoming a force of nature, especially when more layers are added, with tones that mimic vocals. An avalanche of droning falls on the jazzy drumming of Peak, while the stormy Duration blurs the border between pulsation and drone, and the epileptic, punkish Shift could be a Von Lmo remix. The eight-minute Hold poisons a lugubrious cluster of drones with metallic percussion, and closes a fascinating album that evokes instrumental experiments of the new wave.

At the same time Welburn was half of the duo Barchan with drummer Tomas Jarmyr, as documented on the 57-minute piece of the album Soliton (2015), basically an epic solo of creative post-jazz drumming against a backdrop of mostly static drones.

W/V (2018) documents a collaboration with South African vocalist Juliana Venter in two lengthy compositions. Concave (14:35) glues her witchy Diamanda Galas-esque vocal acrobatics to a thick, relentless, bombastic wall of electronic noise As the vocals mutate and echo, so does the noise, slowly becoming a humane instrument adrift in the terrifying wake of the voice; after ten minutes the noise has become a series of seismic shocks and the voice is a spastic wailing before one last moribund shriek. Moonunit (17:36) is instead a confused piece in which the electronic noise mostly accompanies a spoken-word and sung performance.

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