“Quoniam Facta Sum Vilis” (Astral Spirits)

As track 2, “And the Deep Indoors,” shuddered to a close, I wasn’t sure if the vibrations were coming from my speakers or from outside; there’s construction in the development behind our house, and we can feel the rumble throughout the day.

Such is the visceral experience of Brandon Lopez’s “Quoniam Facta Sum Vilis,” which translates to “FOR I HAVE BECOME VILE IN THE EYES OF THE LORD” (all caps my addition for effect). That’s an insanely damning self-appraisal. To wallow in abjection is to truly plumb the depths for inspiration. How’d our friend Lopez do?

But first, I’m gonna bounce some promo copy off you for a minute, just to get the descriptive stuff out of the way: the “virtuoso bassist” created “Quoniam Facta Sum Vilis,” “in part, as an answer to the musical ‘reason’ of the Bach cello suites. … [He intended to compose] something florid and beautiful from the violent and erratic and to deny the supremacy of the wrote in favor of the intuitive.” So, it’s improvised. The Astral Spirits way.

We answer our earlier question with, “Pretty well, actually.” Cello’s not a solo instrument with a wide spectrum of sonic possibilities, yet I find myself transfixed to the unusual approach Lopez is taking with it. Instead of fluid passages, Lopez juts and jags around the strings, ratcheting up the tension and not really letting us off with any less than a rattled feeling. It’s constantly interesting (not that the Lord would find any of this amusing), and you never know what’s going to happen next. And all this with a cello! I’ll never make fun of bass players again.

And what the heck is going on at the beginning of “Gruppo”? Are those shrieks? A power drill? Add that to the construction symphony outside my window – it can join in with the bulldozers and excavators.

Brandon Lopez

Astral Spirits