Free Jazz Blog


Microtub claims to be the first and most likely the only ensemble that plays microtonal tubas - British Robin Hayward on the microtonal F tuba, and Norwegian Peder Simonsen and Martin Taxt on the microtonal C tubas. This trio explores just intonation and the rich harmonic potential of the tubas and creates high nuanced and highly resonating drones that create the elusive sonic sensation of “doors of the underworld slamming”.

Sonic Drift is the fifth album of Microtub, and recorded at Studio Paradiso in Oslo shortly before the European-wide lockdown started in March 2020. The title piece corresponds with the trio’s previous album, Chronic Shift (Bohemian Drips, 2019). It was originally composed by Hayward for the Bohemian Drips festival and performed at the Großer Wasserspeicher (large water tower, a circular tower built to supply Berlin’s population over 100 years ago) in Berlin in June 2018 and was inspired by the exceptionally long reverb within this unique acoustic space. “Sonic Drift” is an evolution of “Chronic Shift”, developed through the process of live performances but still drifts and rotates through ‘neutral’ harmonies based on the 11th, 13th and 29th harmonics and subharmonics contained within the microtonal tuba tunings. The three microtonal tubas sound like one, sonic entity, sending meditative reverberations and overtones that offer a profound and immersive listening experience. Try to imagine yourself floating in the Großer Wasserspeicher space, gently caressed by the microtonal tubas harmonics subharmonics.

The second piece “The Pederson Concerto” is a collective composition by Microtub. It uses multiples of the 7th and 11th partials to create detuned perfect fifths and fourths, along with the unusually flattened minor third ‘169:144’. The piece features Simonsen oscillating through the brief intervals and triggering the other two players, using the electronic sounds of a Moog synthesizer. This delicate tension between the revelations sounds microtonal tubas and the subtle and almost transparent undercurrents of the modular synthesizer add a mysterious aroma to the extraordinary complex but always arresting deep tones of Microtub.

Eyal Hareuveni