BAY 129 - Nightports w Tom Herbert (BAY 129)
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Nightports w Tom Herbert by Nightports
Formats: Digital (BAY 129E) CD (BAY 129CD) (600 copies) Limited edition black vinyl LP (BAY 129V) (600 copies)
Release Date: 13 May 2022

Nightports is based on a simple but unbreakable rule of restriction: only sounds produced by the featured musician can be used. Nothing else. These sounds can be transformed, distorted, translated, processed and reprocessed, stretched, cut, ordered and reordered without limitation.

Nightports is about amplifying the characteristics of the musician – celebrating what’s particular about them, finding sounds that nobody else can make, constructing a complex sonic weave that, however radical the transformations, still bears the watermarks of its origin.

Nightports w/ Tom Herbert is the third in a series of collaborative albums from musician-producers Adam Martin and Mark Slater to be released on The Leaf Label, following 2018’s Nightports w/ Matthew Bourne and 2020’s Nightports w/ Betamax.

Tom Herbert made his name as the bass player in Mercury Music Prize-nominated bands Polar Bear and The Invisible, and has become an in-demand collaborator and session musician, including work with Adele, Lana Del Rey and most recently The Smile. Having honed his craft holding the low-end down in some of the most forward-thinking British groups of recent times, and also appearing on some the biggest tracks of the last twenty years, Nightports w/ Tom Herbert brings Herbert’s command of the double bass into the spotlight.

As with all of Nightports’ work, the album rewards close listening. They stay true to their manifesto in maintaining the essence of the original recordings. The processing never masks the organic source material, at times demonstrating the physicality of the instrument with detailed recordings of complete takes - the sound of the room, the creaking of strings and Herbert’s measured breathing. At other times they build more abstract, atmospheric layers from the parts.

“Through our collaboration, we wanted to show different sides to the instrument and reveal the real details of Tom's playing,” Slater observes. “In our approach, we wanted to highlight all that the double bass is and can be, and to put it centre stage.”

Nightports and Tom Herbert ably demonstrate the versatility of the double bass. It’s an instrument that rarely gets the main focus in an ensemble, but one of the most striking aspects of the album is the emotional resonance in Herbert’s articulate melodic lines. “The improvisations that built the album were always highly emotive to us,” Martin explains. “It was special to watch Tom just pull these ideas out of thin air and play them into the silence of the studio. It then became our challenge to create sonic worlds for them to inhabit.”

In seeking to spotlight virtuosic musical talents, Nightports also continue to hone their own craft. As their reputation grows there’s a confidence to approach their work with a lighter touch, and it serves their subjects well. As Tom Herbert puts it “when I heard it back, it sounds like I imagine I sound in my dreams.” While Nightports’ rules may at first appear restrictive, they’re mining an increasingly rich seam.

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