With the release of his third solo record, Quoniam Facta Sum Vilis, bassist Brandon Lopez creates an array of textures and tones to produce a beautifully complex yet almost unsettling atmosphere in his music. From the very beginning to the very end, Lopez takes us on a journey through the multiple environments of his musical imagination. As listeners, we are not only able to travel horizontally through each piece, but vertically as well, sinking into the deep internal levels of the music before rising up again. With a record that is primarily based on feeling, it is important to listen carefully to the subtleties that Lopez presents us with.
The record opens with a gradual introduction to the deep and full notes of the bass in the track “Vanitas.” There is a tempting and intriguing aspect to vibrations heard coming from the bass which help in creating a space that feels deeply internal and raw. Along with the subtle vocalizations, the record is filled with emotion. There is a slight shift in rhythm that just begins to build up for the last thirty seconds before being cut off at the end of the track. Lopez manages, in almost every piece of the record, to connect the previous song to the next through skillful endings like this one creating a full arc from start to finish.
The record truly attests to Lopez’s skill and strength with the instrument as he plays with its range and tone. In “Lamed” there are squeaks and slides of the hand that create a constant sound of shuffling and movement. A little over two minutes in, Lopez builds up a beating with the bass that leads into almost two minutes of harsh strumming. However, rather than feeling intrusive, the shift feels natural. There is a sense of something larger and darker than the everyday movements represented through the shuffling that temporarily takes over. “Pa” portrays his ability to move through space as the first two minutes are filled with drawn out notes that seem to be traveling closer. With a quick shift to an aggressive and almost violent tone and then back again to subtle and deep vibrating tones, the music gradually fades away.
From the first minute of the album, I sensed an immediate internal connection to the music. “Vanitas” acts as a method of transportation that pulls me into my own mind. Lopez brilliantly sets up a complex atmosphere through his playing that leads you through multiple stages in the album, and it is clear that he is right there with you. Even through the recording, his physicality and connection with the music is intensely present and makes the music even more enticing.