The Last Fret, her third bass album, includes ebow, toy piano, field recordings and prepared bass. Guitar, on three tracks, is by David Lester of Mecca Normal. The songs range from ambient, textured pieces to rhythmic or poppy instrumentals to spoken word but, always, bass is the core.
As with her previous albums, Atkinson recorded and mixed all of the songs on The Last Fret.
The song “Clips” was created for a performance that was advertised as containing prepared bass. Since Atkinson had never written a prepared bass piece before, she wrote “Clips” for that performance. The repeating rhythmic bass line was created by attaching large paper clips to the bass strings.
“What Came Before” highlights the sensuous swirling beauty of ambient bass tones while “New Too” offsets those bass tones with the abrasive growl of ebow.
Three pieces include spoken word. “Hebron Birds” was written in response to a trip to the West Bank and a surprise encounter with a group of young girls. Their trust and curiosity in a stranger prompted Atkinson to create this song, which incorporates a field recording of their voices. The album also includes Atkinson’s first cover song: Chain and the Gang’s “What is a Dollar?” and the humorous Ukulele Shock.
Preparing for a show with Jandek, by playing along to his YouTube videos, led to the very unJandek-like “Play Along.” Experimenting with a Value Village kid’s electronic keyboard resulted in “16 Hours of Daylight.”
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