Aside from the fact that I’m REALLY proud of the music on both albums, the biggest kick I’ve had out of the Slow Food/Infrablab project with Trip Wamsley has been the ability to so accurately contrast the differences and similarities in the methodology, practice and outcome of our music making.
Here they are, side by side, have a listen:
It’s rare that you get the indulgence of doing two records under identical technical constraints, as a ‘test case’ for those methodologies. Which made the experience of playing with Trip even more enjoyable than it would’ve been if we’d just been doing an album the old fashioned way with, y’know, written songs and shit…
Instead, we got to see what happens when he gets pulled into my world of playing everything as though it’s the only take, as though it’s a gig with intense listeners. I did do some edits (some bits where it took Trip a little longer to pick up on the harmonic world I’d established, and some bits where my own melodic meanderings went on journeys that were a little to long to warrant repeated scrutiny), but there’s no overdubs, and only one place where I took a line from one place and used it elsewhere (to create a ‘hook’ at the start of one of the tunes, can’t remember which one…)
Beyond that, it’s as we played it, with all the conversational questioning, searching, answering, back ‘n’ forth, uncertainty and discovery that that entails. My favourite kind of music.
For Trip’s part, he pulled up a handful sketched out ideas – some samples, some harmonic frameworks, bits of stuff he’d been messing with in Reason at various states of completion and had me play over them. Often playing a number of passes, making suggestions about the sounds I was using. It’s a common studio technique, but it’s not often that once that bit is done the tunes get *rewritten* around those lines. So he took the bits I’d played, and wrote tunes to fit them into. Amazing. Sometimes it’s all about me (the 2nd tune on the album, “While I’m Here, Remind Me of Forgiveness“), for the most part, it’s more about the inspiration that my one line gave him, or more accurately, it seems to me, the permission that line – and this way of working – gave him.
There’s one of the lines on the EP that I recorded for Trip 3 years ago – he’s been working on this kind of project for a long time. This just gave him the permission to go nuts and the deadline to finish it. And it’s awesome. His playing on this is genuinely some of my favourite ‘bass plus’ playing I’ve ever heard. (bass plus being a clumsy term for using bass outside of its more common role/sonic space).
I think the two albums make a really interesting set. Even the fact that Slow Food is much longer than Infrablab makes a whole lot of sense. Slow Food is the audiobook, Infrablab is the TED talk. Slow Food is a slow ramble though some unfamiliar shrubland, Infrablab is a GPS-directed journey to somewhere fabulous, with no getting lost on the way.
Two methods, two sets of music, two entirely complimentary approaches to making weird shit happen on the bass guitar.