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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



Entries Tagged as 'Musing on Music'

Some Musical Thoughts On 11 Reasons…

May 15th, 2011 · Comments Off on Some Musical Thoughts On 11 Reasons…

Each of my albums tends to have a different vibe to it, which often manifests itself in the way I use the technology at hand to make it happen… So here’s a few thoughts on how the looping part of the album played out. Half of this was written on the plane on the way over here, the rest, just now. 🙂 Hit play now, so you can hear it while you’re reading… (and if you download it, you’ll also get the PDF that comes with it which has specific program notes for each track, as well as some further thoughts on the project as a whole)

It hadn’t really struck me until listening back to “11 Reasons” on the plane over here to the US that I’ve shifted away from ABAB form on this record.

Unlike on Behind Every Word (the title track and Scott Peck in particular), none of the tunes have a verse and a chorus. They all evolve and morph the way all my music did before I got the Looperlative.

What has changed to make possible this kind of ‘step forward into an old method’ is the degree of subtlety and complexity with which I can manipulate multiple unsynced loops of different lengths – there’s a LOT of that going on on this album, whether in the big ambient passages or while playing with multiple melodic lines and post processing them in real time (and, in some instances, adding some filter-delay afterwards – the privilege of having multiple outputs on the looperlative, and therefor being able to mix things quite specifically once they’ve been recorded). I’m also using more and more synced loops of different lengths (multiples of whatever the original loop is – Travelling North is a prime example)

It’s interesting for me to note this unconscious shift back to the evolutionary model rather than the more traditional “Lamarckist” jumping back and forth between distinct sections. Perhaps in noting the change, I’m setting myself up to do a project of highly complex multiple section loop tunes … you heard the rumour here first 🙂

Tags: Musing on Music

What Is Pop And Is It Dead?

November 9th, 2010 · 9 Comments

This post was inspired by an excellent blog-post by Paul Long in which he talks about ‘the end of pop’, and makes some comments about the risible state of pop music through the 90s…

What it doesn’t do (though he assures me it’s in the research that his post was excerpted from) is talk about the definitions and parameters of pop music, and whether or not the death of pop is as much a function of its limiting etymology as it is a profound cultural shift. [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music

Musicians Who Use Looping: A Beginner’s Guide.

October 31st, 2010 · 4 Comments

As you’re no doubt more than well aware, the whole process of real time looping is essential to the way I make music, whether it be live or in the studio, solo or collaborating – it’s a very long time since I last did a gig that didn’t have some element of looping in it. Certainly, one listen to my latest solo live album shows that – this is entirely live, there’s nothing added here, just the gig… (click the ‘buy’ button below to download the album and pay whatever you think it’s worth for it)

[Jan 2014 edit] And my latest project, FingerPainting is a duo (and sometimes a trio) that relies on multiple musicians looping at once and sometimes looping each other! Every note that Daniel Berkman and I have ever played together has been released – check it out in the sidebar there, or get all 10 shows for just £10 here.

The basic idea is this – a looper is an effect that allows the musician to record what they are playing and then loop it while they play over the top. Almost all looping devices allow you to do multiple layers on that loop, and some of them allow you to do fun things to the loop once it’s recorded – reverse it, slow it down, speed it up, stop it, restart it, remove some or all of the layers… [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music

6 Years Since The Death Of John Peel

October 25th, 2010 · 1 Comment

John Peel past away 6 years ago today.

I miss him more than any other person that I never met. I’ve written many, many times about the live-changing impact he had on me, growing up in Berwick Upon Tweed, pre-internet, starved of pretty much all other access to boundary-less music.

So to celebrate, here are a few albums I think you should hear – great music, by great people.

Honour the memory of John Peel by hearing something brand new today: [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music

Exploring Different Models For Creativity: Slow Food/Infrablab compared.

September 24th, 2010 · 1 Comment

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… [Read more →]

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music

Originality, Iconoclasts, Recognition and Motivation

September 14th, 2010 · 9 Comments

On Saturday, I was at v late notice invited to an amazing gig I didn’t even know was happening.

Vernon Reid and I have been Twitter-buddies for a while. We have a few friends in common, and had chatted a fair bit on there. He mentioned he was in London, I suggested meeting up, he invited me to his gig.

And what a gig – under the name Tongues Of Fire, it was a tribute to The Black Panthers, featuring David Murray on sax, Questlove on drums, the remarkable Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass, Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan from the Last Poets, Black Thought and Ray Angry from the Roots, and Corey Glover and Vernon from Living Colour. [Read more →]

Tags: Musing on Music

Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 5 – Ten Years Of Listening.

September 13th, 2010 · Comments Off on Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 5 – Ten Years Of Listening.

Click here to download Ten years of listening.

The longest track on the album. A slow build with some pretty big transitions, and a Big Distorted Solo™. The only way to navigating those transitions is to rely on deep listening.

Trip and I have been listening to each other for over a decade. I’m always as happy to listen to him play as I am to be playing the music myself. That’s the key to improv – play with people who make nicer noises than you can imagine making yourself. Removes the tendency to over-play.

So we listen, we react, we surprise each other and play catch-up. But after a decade of listening, the surprises get easier to adjust to 🙂

There are some amazing moments in this tune, too many amazing moments to list them all here. And there are sounds that you’d be forgiven for thinking were me that are actually Trip. He really stretches out on this, and the blend between our sounds has never been more integrated and organic.

This was also the first track off the album made available to hear – over on Soundcloud, it’s annotated with who’s doing what

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music

Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 4 – Imaginary Robot Ninja Assistant

September 2nd, 2010 · 1 Comment

You can download Imaginary Robot Ninja Assistant here, and the whole Slow Food album here.

Who doesn’t have an imaginary robot ninja assistant? Fixing stuff, being awesome, ass-kicking when needed, and, uhm, assisting…

When I finally get my real Robot Ninja Assistant, it will sing like this track.

And I’d understand every word it sang.

This is how all robots should sing.

It’s a love song.

Nowhere near as dark as it sounds to us.

Robot harmony is different, y’see, not based on dodgy fudged physics. Theirs is the essence of rock ‘n’ roll.

And ninjas.

The main loop on this is, I think, me looping some of Trip’s weird noises. I don’t actually join in til about half way through. Quality weirdness 🙂

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music

Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 3 – Growing Up And Moving On

August 31st, 2010 · Comments Off on Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 3 – Growing Up And Moving On

[sorry for the break in posts – was away at Greenbelt over the weekend]

You can download Growing Up And Moving On here, or the whole Slow Food album here.

This was the first thing we recorded. It is, I think the most edited too… Perhaps.

Nerves? Expectations?

Trip and I met 11 years ago. We wouldn’t have played like this then. We were young. Unformed. A different world.

We’ve moved on, up, out, through… Sometimes in parallel, sometimes divergent, always with a bass in hand.

It’s a slow build, the underlying loop changes not. The emotions evolve. We’re exploring, tentatively (it’s the first thing we played, remember?) Satisfied as it unfolds.

It’s good. Let’s play more.

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music

Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 2 – Grown-Ups At Play

August 27th, 2010 · 1 Comment

You can download Grown-Ups At Play from here, and the whole Slow Food album from here.

The simplest tune on the record in terms of the techological wizardry. There’s one little loop towards the end, but most of it is just Trip and I playing, with him hitting some deep, deep bass pedals (srsly, you’re not going to hear those if you’re listening on laptop speakers or through crappy headphones. They dig deep.)

Trip and I have experimented with this kind of thing before. I think this is the best tune to ever come out of our non-loop improvs. It’s almost like we growed up ‘n’ stuff.

This is almost an old fashioned duet.

Almost.

The loop section adds a lil’ StevieSpice to the proceedings. After all, we are grown-ups.

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music