ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Visible Bass Line
PERFORMER: Lowri Blake (cello, voice); Peter Buckoke (double bass)
CATALOGUE NO: 2004
As group names go, A Man, a Woman and a Double Bass is a major misnomer. That Woman, Her Cello, Her Voice (Oh, and Him at the Back with the Bass) might be more like it. Lowri Blake has always been the leading partner in this duo, and now she’s put her name to its record label, too. I’m not saying it’s axiomatic to mistrust own-label releases but, playing this disc, one does wonder if CD technology hasn’t made vanity publishing a bit too easy.
Things get off to a very bad start. To hear these two bottom-heavy string Cinderellas lumbering through Carmen’s gypsy dance like a pair of arthritic hippopotamuses dolled up in black mantillas and false eyelashes might be funny, if one didn’t suspect it was meant to be serious. The final medley from Orpheus in the Underworld is even more hellish, with painful intonation from Blake and gratuitous growling from Buckoke.
The ragbag of music that comes in between can’t really be excused by the lazy disclaimer, ‘We deliberately avoided organising the pieces by type, chronology or any other sensible method’. While Blake clearly enjoys giving Nancy Sinatra and Nina Simone the ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ treatment, it’s equally obvious she’s more musically at home in classic Baroquery by Barrière and Pleyel. But what might make quite a fun late-night cabaret, preferably after several drinks (when the woozy tuning might just possibly swim back into focus), doesn’t bear exposure to the cold light of day. As for the album title, if it’s really meant as a pun on the fashion victim’s worst fear, then all I can say is: pants! Mark Pappenheim