The Squid's Ear Magazine

PascAli: Suspicious Activity (Creative Sources)

The acoustic bass duo of New Yorker Sean Ali and European Pascal Niggenkemper use unusual techniques and preparations for the large double bass to make a series of 22 concise, diverse, and engaging improvisations.

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product information:

UPC: 5609063402131

Label: Creative Sources
Catalog ID: CS213
Squidco Product Code: 16814

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2012
Country: Portugal
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded at Tedesco Studios, in New Jersey, on February 15th & 28th, 2012, by Tom Tedesco.


Sean Ali-prepared bass

Pascal Niggenkemper-prepared bass

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The past sixty or so years have seen an enormous expansion in the sound range that can be solicited from conventional instruments. Nowhere has this augmentation of sonic possibilities been more dramatic than in the case of the double bass. The instrument has provided the occasion for everything from the extension of techniques used to produce pitch, to techniques and supplements designed to produce a more texturally-oriented approach. It is research into the latter possibility that is pursued on this new CD by PascAli.

PascAli is the duo of American Sean Ali and Franco-German Pascal Niggenkemper, both of whom play prepared double bass. The twenty-two tracks presented here are brief pieces meant to show the sheer diversity of sounds that can be produced by acoustic basses properly prepared. And that diversity is truly fascinating.

The CD literally begins at the bottom. The first track is an improvisation for the instruments' endpins-squeaking as they're loosened and tightened, whispering as they're bowed. Subsequent highlights include "How Long Does It Take Styrofoam to Become Earth Again?" which is a hissing of white noise as the bassists bow Styrofoam; "Witch Tricks," with its spiccato (bouncing) bowing and squeaking pulse evolving into overpressured bowing and percussive strikes; and the sparse pizzicato and metallic sounds of "Japanese Garden."

This is acoustic musique concrete that pushes physicality to the forefront of both the players' relationship to their instruments and to the listener's experience of the sound. But not everything here is abstract sound. There also is music at the core of even some of the most unconventional tracks, as the bass's function as a resonating chamber frequently meets with the sympathetic vibration of strings as the instrument is struck or its various parts manipulated. And there are tracks that involve overtly pitched sounds, such as the swooping microtonal glissandi of "Chinese Mask" or the repeating figures of "Buzzing Bees."

The brevity of the tracks allows PascAli to present the greatest variety of sound, and works overall to give the recording a pleasantly kaleidoscopic-and yes, enjoyable-feel. As such the CD is an intelligent introduction to two innovative bassists' approach to expanding the double bass's soundworld."-dbarbiero, AMN Reviews

Artist Biographies

"Bassist, composer, and improviser Sean Ali from Dayton, Ohio has been living in New York City since 2003, where he participates in the city's vibrant experimental music scene both as a performer and curator. His current projects include: Fester, Hag, LathanFlinAli, Mattrey.Bordreuil.Ali, Natura Morta, PascAli, Phantom Circuit, While We Still Have Bodies, and solo performances. He is co-founder and member of the new music label Prom Night Records. He is co-founder and former curator at 65Fen Music Series. Sean Ali performs regularly in New York City and has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe."

-Sean Ali Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"New York City-based German-French bassist, composer and improviser Pascal Niggenkemper is a performing and recording artist active on the creative music scene in the US and in Europe.

From 1999-2005 he was musicaly active in Cologne having studied jazz & classical double bass at the Hochschule für Musik. In 2005 he received the DAAD award and moved to New York.

From 2008 to 2010 Pascal led the PNTrio with Tyshawn Sorey and Robin Verheyen. (CD "pasàpas" Konnex 2008 & "urban creatures" JazzHausMusik 2010). The trio toured extensively in Europe performing at the Jazzcologne Festival, Jazzherbst Konstanz and at the Kennedy Center in Washington. Recordings for the WDR and the BR Radio.

In cooperation with Jazzdor Strasbourg-Berlin, Pascal formed the septet vision7 that performed at Jazzdor Strasbourg-Berlin, Vive le Jazz in Cologne, Jazz à la Cité in Paris and at the Pori Jazz in Finland. (CD 'Lucky Prime' clean feed records Sept 2013)

In September 2011 Pascal released with Simon Nabatov and Gerald Cleaver the CD/LP upcoming hurricane on NoBusiness Records which is listed among 'Albums of the year' 2011 in the 'The New York City Jazz Record'. The trio performed in Canada and the USA.

He recently recorded a new solo program called: 'look with thine ears' music for bass & preparations was premiered at the Jazzdor Festival in Strasbourg in November 2013. The CD was released in March 2015 on clean feed records. He performed for the France Musique radio broadcast by Anne Montaron called 'a l'improviste'.

In 2014 he presented the double trio 'le 7eme continent' with the program 'talking trash' at the Vive le Jazz festival in Cologne, Germany and the concert was broadcast by WDR3 radio. Their CD was released in May 2016 on clean feed records and the group performed in France, Belgium and Germany.

Pascal is co-leading the groups baloni with Frantz Loriot viola and Joachim Badenhorst clarinets (CD 'fremdenzimmer' 2011, 'Belleke' 2014 & 'Ripples' 2015 clean feed records) PascAli a duo for two prepared basses with Sean Ali (CD 'suspicious activity' creative sources 2012) and Miner's Pick with Thomas Heberer. (CD 'miner's pick' FMR records 2014)

With friends, he curates in NY the house concert series ze couch, where every month artists meet to present their work.

Festival presence includes: Jazzdor Strasbourg-Berlin, Vision Festival New York, Umbrella Festival Chicago, Banlieues Bleues Paris, Strade del Cinema Aosta, météo Mulhouse, Jazzcologne, JIGG Lisbon, Taktlos Zurich, Jazz à la Cité in Paris, ESCUCHA Madrid, Washington DC Jazz Festival, Pori Jazz Festival, Middelheim Antwerp, Grenzenlos Köln, undead Jazzfest NYC, D'Jazz Nevers, NewAdits Klagenfurt, Font New York, Music Unlimited Wels, Vive le Jazz Cologne, GONG Aarau, Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf, Ljubljana Jazz Festival etc...

He received the following scholarships/grants: DAAD, Henry Mancini Institute, North Rhine-Westphalia composition stipend."

-Pascal Niggenkemper Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. endpin battle 1:15

2. chinese mask 2:11

3. britpop 3:44

4. chicken talk 1:39

5. how long does it take styrofoam to become earth again? 1:33

6. buzzing bees 0:54

7. dog bite 1:21

8. perpetua 1:23

9. pavarotties 1:02

10. sawing logs 1:13

11. wind 1:26

12. machines 2:18

13. highway to hell 2:10

14. kissing f-holes 2:42

15. mechanics at the balloonparty 2:10

16. serene moment 1:09

17. bonanza's nuts 1:13

18. witch tricks 3:51

19. mating whales 2:16

20. industrial romance 1:46

21. japanese garden 2:26

22. the mouth 1:45

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Stringed Instruments
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Creative Sources
Duo Recordings

Search for other titles on the label:
Creative Sources.

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