Since our ears first relished the temptation of music it is the rhythmic character and manipulation of the bass which has so often been behind the initiation seed of attraction. Over the years bass led, guitar less propositions have further fuelled that appetite, the likes of MoRkObOt, Royal Blood, and Lightning Bolt especially compelling for us as they have pushed the envelope. So there was an instinctive draw towards the debut solo album from American bassist, painter and experimental dreamweaver Josh Werner. Whereas the trio mentioned craft unique incitements that twist the conventional aspects of metal and rock Werner shares the rich intimation and melodic beauty that the instrument can also bear and it makes for one of the year’s most fascinating and inspiring encounters, Mode For Titan.
Werner is renowned and acclaimed for his work with the likes of Ghostface Killer, CocoRosie, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Cibo Matto, PopCaan, James Brandon Lewis, Matisyahu, Sly and Robbie, Wu Tang Clan and TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and the individual craft he has brought to an eclectic list of styles. Mode For Titan sees New York based Werner present a collection of instrumentals which consume and inspire the imagination, each minimalistic in their bass only spun proposals though with a weave of gentle electronic nuances and fascination for company but thick in radiant elegance and atmospheric intimation. With a variety of basses embraced including the sitar bass, seven-string and fretless bass, and a kaleidoscope of styles and flavours woven together, the album proved a feast for the senses and passions from start to finish and with every listen enchantment has flourished.
Released via M.O.D. Reloaded, the label owned by legendary bassist /producer Bill Laswell who co-produced the album with Werner, Mode For Titan immediately seduced keen attention with opener Traversal. Its first breath is a warm embrace of the senses, a reassuring and suggestive caress lined with darker hues as basses reveal their grace and intimation, the track only expanding its rapture and secrets within a compelling journey.
The passage through The Crossing is just as captivating, it too hinting at darker shadows around cosmopolitan magnificence within its low key but thought enriching flight whilst Subversion celebrates its entanglement with the unexpected and defiant with a dub/ska flavoured stroll. From feet and hips to the imagination there was no resisting its flirtation and intimating lures, its temptation under the skin in quick time and only burrowing deeper.
The album’s title track has a jazz funk nurtured breath to its shuffle, Werner skilfully making another bass pulsate and sing in the ears whilst weaving a dreamy and rather mercurial landscape to explore before Quiet Star with progressive rock scented hues teased and smooched with the senses and the following Arcane Path ventured down its melancholic yet again enchanting movement of emotive incitement. Each had the imagination conjuring once more, the shadows wrapping the third as poetic as the melodic sighs; Werner once more revealing and revelling in the versatility of the bass.
It is fair to say that keys do provide a potent essence in the adventures of Mode For Titan but only as additional colouring to the palette and craft of the bass as epitomised by Light Of Other Suns, a track seeded in electronic breezes but realised and infectiously seducing though Werner’s inventive pull on steel strings. The track is superb, one of many intensely favourite moments discovered and soon joined by the intrigue soaked, dub courting Danger Road and the following Free Matter with its soulful intimacy. The first of the pair teases and toys with thoughts whilst manipulating the body’s movement, a post punk hue which is never too far away from most pieces extra relish on the pleasure. Its successor is a look into a calm yet seemingly melancholic heart, another track to interpret as instincts suggest and for ears to warmly embrace.
Through the compelling New Compass and its web like body and the provocative breath and soundscape of Ship Of Theseus, Werner continued to enthral and orchestrate the imagination, the latter’s evolution riveting and questioning as it themes its deliberations to question our thoughts.
Concluding with A Return and its haunting cast of minimalistic textures and richly dramatic enterprise, Mode For Titan relentlessly beguiled and pleasured throughout. With instrumental releases we have to feel fully involved in some way or another to connect and fair to say that Josh Werner had us wonderfully entangled from his first notes.
Mode For Titan is out now via M.O.D. Reloaded, available on CD and digitally everywhere, including Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify and @ https://modreloaded.bandcamp.com/album/mode-for-titan
Pete RingMaster 24/11/2020