Zander Zon is the pseudonym of a young London based solo bassist who has built a massive following for himself on Youtube. There has been quite a buzz of excitement around this release – unsurprising as Zon has a way of sounding like no-one but himself and plays unique music in a unique way using a Zon (surprise, surprise) electric four string bass strung with piccolo strings which enable him to produce bright, sonorous upper register lines.
Bass, alone among instruments, also refers to a musical function. This dualism can mean instruments called ‘bass’ are not limited to that function and that other instruments can fulfill a bass role. Zon is a bassist but there is little bass function on this record. Zon uses the high register of his bass (with just the right touch of reverb) to create melodies and soundscapes that utilize the clear, bell-like tones and ringing sustain of his instrument. Some tracks use overdubbing, but most are a single track.
Zander Zon’s music has an aching beauty at times. He loves melody and he is clearly in love with the sound of his instrument. He uses altered tunings (a different one on each track), guitar-like finger-picking techniques and a predominance of harmonics to create an individual style. Classical influences like Bach and Pachelbel are clearly apparent in his writing and playing. He has listened to great solo bassists like Steve Lawson and Michael Manring, but has a sound and style of his own.
Zon has a great single-mindedness of purpose here and the word I keep returning to is clarity – in terms of clarity of tone, clarity of musical ideas and clarity of technique. As a record, it would benefit from greater tonal and sonic variety and I appreciated it best in short doses, but there is plenty here to suggest a promising future for Zon. For a young musician, his musical approach is mature and only occasionally did I long for a beautiful note to be left to linger slightly longer in its decay or feel that a particular technical effect was overused.
Highlights include the delicious melodies and clever multi-track arrangement of “Sencilla”; the atmospheric harmony and musical depth of “Hope”; the soundtrack-like (and aptly titled) “Circle of Melodies”; the beautiful “Epic Love”; the harpsichord-like patterns of “I, Resolute” with its calm unhurried feel; the crystalline repeated patterns at the conclusion of “She Danced”; and the well paced melodic developments of “Meditation in E” over a low drone.
Preview and download Sonorous