Irarrázabal / Baldwin – Grips

9.7.22 by Matty McPherson

At 1:34 on my dream day, I walk into the local world class wine & beer market. I make a mad dash for the 50% off table. It’s flush! Just with all my enemies, unfortunately: hazy ipas 4 months past their shelf life and coalescing into a flight risk; saisons that have less personality than the Michelin man; “grape ales” with brett added to turn any party into a “pour one out and cry session;” a cassette from Tripticks Tapes entitled Grips. Wait, how’d that tape get there? Why the feck is Amanda Irarrázabal’s and Nat Baldwin’s double bass improvisation, recorded in August of 2021 and released as a C27, doing on the beer table? This tape just HAS to be straight edge, it just doesn’t have that energy in it!

Naturally, I take it to the register with my “class A enemy” beers. I use my rewards membership, because I like earning points just in case I wanna splurge for an $8 triple IPA that will fail me (they never cease to!). The man sees me purchasing these all. “Buddy,” he graciously tells me with the power of 1000 bodybuliders, “this tape changed my life. It taught me how to drink these beers.” I’m incredulous. I don’t understand how this gentleman and scholar could learn to drink and contemplate the most brazen of beer from the most elliptical and sardonic of double-double bass recordings. I stare into his lone monocle-drenched eye. “Tell me gentleman scholar, how so?”

The gentleman scholar at the counter proceeds to express, in the most beautiful of diction and concise of syntax, his knowledge. Knowledge of how Baldwin and Irarrázabal, whomst had never met in the flesh before meeting on that cramped stage, would spend 27 minutes with unkempt, yet unwavering grins (under their masks) on their faces and a casual wardrobe. Knowledge of how their exploits, over the composition hereby known as Grips, was as spiffy and fleet as a pilsner, but with the droning, recondite pleasures of brett yeast. “You see, when Baldwin and Irarrázabal joust, the clash is akin to synesthesia; it’s a novel flavor you sorta taste and have to hoard for yourself. Their joust is unnerved in its quips and stretches, even as it steadies and stills itself, it can’t help but jolt or twitch. All the while, they still find ways to bring in percussive elements of the bass akin to a coinstar pump n’ dump or boozy triple; drone worthy of the low level listening experience tang of a sour; why even the acoustics are that of a rustic palette akin to the farmhouse ale!” It all sounded too good to be true as I was tapping my credit card and dropping an extra dollar for lotto.

“Gentleman Scholar, this sounds too good to be true!” I bemoaned. “Like, these two Irarrázabal and Baldwin chaps and all these darn noises they’r-” “Highly technical sounds!” the Gentleman Scholar corrected me. “Right, these highly technical sounds, how can they be in service to improving the flavor of a Brett ale?” I gandered. Perhaps I seemed to near-sighted as the clerk responded. “It’s in the vividness. The way these instruments, believed to be so blunt and ‘black and white’ in their approach, can achieve a thriller level funk and uncanny esoteric dividends for the bass! It’s about the process and the excitement of a new amalgamation; when it brightens up the synapses of your mind that’s just the cherry on top” I pondered the fluorescent yellow cassette, peering into its soul, imagining the sounds I’d soon come to hear.

The clerk was no scoundrel. As the dream day turned into a dream night with the beers, Baldwin and Irarrázabal sashayed and moseyed through a variety of acrobatic sleights. With only 27 minutes, their plucky style of jazz stays precocious. Their movements are steady leaps of faith, an implicit trust carrying the weightlessness of the effort along. It made me a better listener as much as a beer aesthetic ponderer. I suppose that happens sometimes to the best of us.