Whereas many microtonal explorations manifest as tiny, pinging blips, Microtub’s Bite of the Orange is constructed using immense, elongated notes. Perhaps somewhat obscurely and tangentially, I find myself considering Andrew Marvell’s poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’, specifically the following couplet:
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
No, not on account of the popular tumescent implications most readings of the lines offer: I’ve even explored the mirthsome connotations of Marvell’s emerging bulbous courgette during undergraduate seminars in an attempt to draw some kind of engagement from a room of late teens who really couldn’t give a crap about Elizabethan poetry, but that’s not why Bite of the Orange evokes Marvell in my mind. Instead, I’m drawn by the poem’s allusions to the Aristotelean connotations of a love borne out of the vegetative soul, as commented on at length by Lawrence Burton in his magnificent Anatomy of Melancholy, one of my favourite 17th Century texts (largely, it’s true, on account of Burton’s magnificent language). Burton makes a connection between the ‘vegetative soul’ and ‘natural love’; a love which is a slow-growing, evolutionary condition.
Granted, an orange is not a vegetable, but, like this slow-growing love, Bite of the Orange moves at an almost imperceptible pace, organic. Microtub’s slow, microtonal explorations require patience, and it’s only through time that a true appreciation of its qualities and its sonic depths can be truly appreciated.
The three tracks seep into one another, both in terms of the structures of their titles, and sonically. ‘Violet Man’ ventures into the dark, its low rumblings feeling their way through subterranean territories and poking the deepest recesses of the mind, and the three long-firm tracks combine to offer a full, panoramic perspective on the nuanced tonalities three microtonal tubas can create.
Bite of the Orange is not an album of action. It is an album which unfurls, creeping, revealing its aspects in greater detail the more closely one listens.