Free Jazz Blog

The trio Microtub goes much deeper than Niels Van Heertum, deeper into the deep spheres of intonation. British Robin Hayward plays on microtonal F-tuba with Norwegian Martin Taxt and Peder Simonsen (who replaced Kristoffer Lo) who play on microtonal C-tuba claim to be the first, and most possibly, the only microtonal tuba ensemble. Microtub also claim to create sounds where “the doors of the underworld slamming”. The trio often uses colour-coded sculptural scores to define areas of harmonic space in just intonation, presenting geometric structures to be explored by the players over time.

Microtub's third album is actually a 25-minutes EP, recorded during the trio’s one week residency at the Palazzo Stabile Art Center in Piemonte, Italy in January 2016. Hayward composed the main pieces, “Bite of the Orange” and “Violet Man”, focusing on the 11th and 13th harmonics, resulting in a strong microtonal character. These pieces not only highlight the commanding and highly disciplined interplay but also the nuanced, challenging architecture of these pieces. Taxt and Simonsen microtonal C-tubas produce the base foundation of dark and raw, almost still, guttural voices while Hayward microtonal F-tuba suggests a delicate, brighter flow, gently soaring above Taxt and Simonsen tubas. On these pieces the three microtonal tubas sound as merging into a unique time and space dimension that almost freezes, as it is embraced by the long, sustained drones. The short trio piece, “Violet Orange”, offers a more dynamic atmosphere with distant traces of playfulness. 

Despite the clear investigative-experimental approach of Microtub, these pieces have a powerful impact. They sound as otherworldly rituals that demand a new manner of listening. It is quite difficult to resume your daily commotion after such a purifying listening experience.