Robin Hayward: solo tuba
When we’re young and immature, and perhaps even as we age, certain instruments are cool, and certain instruments are not. As a teen, I didn’t realize how great it was that my brother played clarinet, and I didn’t realize that instrument’s rich history in jazz. I also had no idea all the crazy things it could do, and would do, in records I loved. Guitar was my thing, and while I certainly still think guitar is cool, I’m adding tuba to the list of instruments that I am ashamed to admit I had an aversion to.
The major responsibility for this goes to Robin Hayward, and the reason he achieved it is because he took the tuba, and only the tuba, and met me halfway. This isn’t band music, and for the most part this isn’t melodic. Instead States of Rushing is a hardcore microtonal exploration of the tuba. If you clicked away, I don’t know if I could blame you. While the sax is a “cool” instrument, what about the tuba is so special to explore its twists and turns, its valves, and its tone? To be honest, I don’t see what is on this record as being distinctive from similar extended-technique marathons and studies in breathing, but that’s my point: what makes this cool for sax, but not for tuba? Nothing.
I’d go as far as saying that Hayward’s playing here shows that musicians, time and again, will try to recreate the sounds they love, sounds often more traditionally generated on other instruments, with the instrument they’ve been trained on. If you like pulsing, breathing, microtonal music, but you’re trained in the tuba, would you just not make that music, or would you find a way to make it happen? Hayward found a way to make it happen, and I’m happy he did.
This record can be intense. It can be monotonous and bleak, but in the sterile way eai fans like. At times Hayward is bludgeoning you with repetition, repeating the same sounds over and over. But in the context of this album, considering how he’s translating sounds he loves through his instrument, I’m as likely to take this as face value as I am to think he’s replicating the mechanical beat of industrial or techno. Regardless of his intent, this is a very solid record you should seek out. (from KILLED IN CARS)
2009 STATES OF RUSHING