Mode For Titan – Josh Werner (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

If you think of the bass guitar being used as a lead instrument, then the chances are that your mind conjures the sound of over the top solos and bombastic grooves. Essentially, most people who have fallen into such a category in the past have always tried to force four strings through a six-string prism and approached this most underrated of instruments as if they were wielding a regular guitar.

Traversal, which opens this intriguing album, immediately puts any such thoughts to rest. Instead, it reminds us of the tones and gentle majesty, the ambience and emotive sound which can be drawn from the instrument when it is in the right hands. As I said before when writing about this glorious introductory track, Josh Werner is the right pair of hands.

But it was always going to be fascinating to see how he could take such a sound and fill a whole album with such seductive tones. But fill an album he has and Mode For Titan is the result. There are times, such as on Danger Road and the title track itself, when the bass does become a focal point, weaving rhythms into melodies and melodies into soundscapes but even then it never dominates, allowing various arabesque and ambient washes, meandering electronica and additional sonic touches, soft textures and subtle layering to take equal billing.

Just as often, the bass acts more as sonic punctuation, such as on tracks like Free Matter, where it is less the bass pulses themselves but more often the atmospherics which swirls around in their wake which defines the sound.

It is interesting to note that Josh Werner is, as well as being a veteran composer and performer, an abstract painter (I believe that the album cover is his own work) and it is perhaps the same artistic approach and attitude which takes root in Mode For Titan. Often structureless, always exploratory, these instrumentals are more about mood and response, feeling and interpretation than the direct communication which is normally inherent in most songs.

Not only a great album but one which reminds us that music is made not by the instruments but by those who wield them and that, given the right person with the right outlook, almost anything can become a lead instrument and the mainstay of a whole album. Even the humble bass guitar.

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