How exactly has the double bass been prepared for the purposes of Runo? Wojtek Traczyk doesn’t say. I imagine the alterations based on the sound alone, and it’s not a pretty picture: the body of the instrument speared by metal girders and splattered in oil, bleeding in wooden splinters, with strings wrenched out and left to dangle like extracted veins. An old petrol engine sprouts out of the back like a malignant growth, jolting as the motor coughs into life and promptly stops, panels rattling, screws dancing out of joint, wounding itself through failed revival.
In tracks like “Big Sur”, which hisses and growls like a chain hoist being yanked by calloused hands, the discernible sound of bow-against-string manifests as the whine of an unoiled hinge, sidling between pitches as the mechanism swings back and forth. Musicality co-opted by the machine. Yet on “Raccoon”, melody rehumanises briefly to become a solemn work song, drawn up from the guts of a downtrodden spirit, backed by the ugly rhythmic clatter of metal on wood. Both machinery and its operator seem to be battling through fatigue and disrepair, with persistence only exacerbating the symptoms: more bolts shake out of the chassis during the seizure of “Mirror Mirror”, while the wretched moans of “Meru” seem to be straining against the edges of the instrument, creaking as they bend out from the body in a bid to break free. “Half Bear, Half Elephant And Half Asleep” is the album’s final improvisatory spasm, shedding bits of maple and steel and sinew, sweating into the floor as it bleeds and aches. The record slumps down exhausted, broken by its very efforts to exist.