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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



More New Music: Cruising Towards a New Album…

April 27th, 2009 · Comments Off on More New Music: Cruising Towards a New Album…

Photo of Steve Lawson's feet, operating a looperlative, at a Recycle Collective gig. Photo taken by Steve BrownI’m finally making some headway on ideas for a new solo album (or whatever a collection of music that used to be called an album is now called). I’m still not sure whether it’s going to be all completely solo, have a few special guests, be all collaborative, or what, but at least some musical ideas are happening.

I had another go at the new tune I posted on Youtube a couple of weeks ago, at the gig in Edinburgh last weekend. This new version is a lot faster (not sure that’s a good thing) and has a nice little loop/delay thing going with the melody about half way through, and then an improv section at the end where the main loop disappears, a bit of the tune continues and a few other interesting things happen around it – so here’s the 0.2b public beta version, on youtube: [Read more →]

Tags: looping · Music News · New Music Strategies

A Foray into Dark Ambient Improv (More New Music)

April 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on A Foray into Dark Ambient Improv (More New Music)

photo of a painting from the Urban Scrawl exhibitionI spent a lovely few hours today with David Stevens, a wonderful musician working mainly with abstract drones and soundscapes, often using bowed strips of metal to create the most amazing textures.

We met through Tuttle, and have been talking for a while about recording together, and today it finally happened, though not without an hour or so of technical faffing thanks to some problematic gear… [Read more →]

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Lawson/Dodds/Wood album launch gig next Monday!

November 19th, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood album launch gig next Monday!

Right, wireless is now working on Das Boot – will be back to full blogging speed before too long. But first, some news you really need to know 🙂

Hopefully you’re already planning on coming to the Lawson/Dodds/Wood launch gig next week at the Vortex in Dalston. If you’re not, there’s still time to postpone whatever it was you had planned and come and see us do our thing. It’ll be fab, I promise.

If you’re VERY new to this ‘ere blog and are wondering who Lawson/Dodds/Wood are, you can go and listen to (then buy if, as you probably will, you decide it’s the most wonderful thing you’ve heard in a long time, and indie loveliness such as this deserves some investment 🙂 ) – head over to stevelawson.net/ldw – there’s a player embedded there so you can listen to the album, which is out on the day of the gig.

Alternatively, also embedded in that page, are videos and links to a load of other videos about the making of the album. Which is pretty amazing, as the main bulk of the material was improvised live in the studio.

It’s fab, honest, and we’d LOVE to see you at the gig – you can book tickets for it at http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk – please come along and hear us. The CD will be launched on the night, and if you’ve ordered the CD in advance, you’ll be able to pick up your CD on the night.

Tags: gig dates · Gig stuff · Music News

Lawson/Dodds/Wood Pt 5 – What Patrick did with the improvs…

September 25th, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood Pt 5 – What Patrick did with the improvs…

Here’s my favourite of the little Lawson/Dodds/Wood videos so far. After doing the 18 minute long group chat that the last four vids were culled from, I did two 7-8 minute interviews, one each with Patrick and Roy, about what they did specifically on the project.

With a project as well defined as this, it seems really important to set the scene as to where the music came from, what limitations we put on ourselves, how we managed to do edits and overdubs while sticking as close as we could to the improvised basis of the project. Patrick describes his (major) part in that really well here –

If you’re enjoying the youtube vids, please feel free to comment on them, rate them, and hit the ‘share’ button to send them to your friends on Facebook or to ‘stumble’ them etc. It all helps us a lot!

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Lawson/Dodds/Wood, the making of Numbers video #4

September 23rd, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood, the making of Numbers video #4

It’s back to me talking non-stop on this one, I’m afraid… actually, that’s not all true, Roy gets a look-in half-way, but there’s lots of me. 🙂

The next two are mini-featurettes on Roy and Patrick, so look out for those in the next few days. Til then, here’s #4

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Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the Making Of Numbers Pt 3

September 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the Making Of Numbers Pt 3

Part 3 of the video-saga. Our lovely drummer, Roy Dodds gets a fair bit of airtime in this one, talking about his inspiration, about improv, about how he comes up with what he comes up with.

Today I’ve been editing the PDF that’ll come with the download version of the album – was hoping to have it up for sale in the shop this evening, but it’s not going to happen, sadly. Tomorrow… possibly…

anyway, here’s video #3:

Tags: Music News

Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the making of Numbers Pt 2

September 21st, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the making of Numbers Pt 2

And here’s part II – if part I felt like I was taking over, that was at least partly because the other two were just unsure of the format, really (it is a bit odd, filming yourself with a phone for uploading to the web, I guess!) – but by this part, they’ve started to get a bit more talkative, first Patrick talking about the editing of the album, and then Roy about improv… Some good stuff. Enjoy!

Tags: Music News

Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the making of 'Numbers' Pt 1

September 20th, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood – the making of 'Numbers' Pt 1

The download release/CD preorder for the Lawson/Dodds/Wood album ‘Numbers’ is only a day or so away from happening, so last Thursday the three of us got together to record some videos – (gawd bless the Nokia N95!) – talking about the making of the album.

The first of them was an 18 minute chat about the album, which I’ll put up in its entirety on Vimeo at some point, but here’s the first chunk of it on youtube, which is largely me talking about the genesis of the project…

More videos coming very soon…

Tags: Music News

Lawson/Dodds/Wood album… release is nigh. :)

August 11th, 2008 · Comments Off on Lawson/Dodds/Wood album… release is nigh. :)

Lawson/Dodds/Wood by Helena DornellasI’ve finally heard the proper mixed ‘n’ mastered version of the Lawson/Dodds/Wood album. It sounds amazing – Patrick has done an incredible job both of the editing and mixing mastering.

In case you missed it, Lawson/Dodds/Wood is a trio that came out of my Recycle Collective project (which is currently on a temporary hiatus). I’d played with Patrick a lot over the years, mainly in our respective home studios, and he was one of the musicians that inspired the Recycle Collective – we were making great music behind closed doors, so why not do it on stage?

Anyway, Patrick and I were thinking about doing a Recycle thing with a drummer, and both of us thought of Roy Dodds. Roy’s one of those rare drummers who understands what ‘quiet‘ actually means, but can rock out with the best of ’em. An endlessly creative musician, and perhaps most importantly, one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

So we did a Recycle gig at Darbucka, and had a really special show. Some amazing music came out of it, and we decided there and then that this would be ‘a band’ – more than just a one-off collaboration for the RC, we’d do some more shows. And some recording.

We went into the studio for a couple of days in Dec. 07. We did it just like a Recycle gig – set up, play, see what happens. We spent two days doing that, and recorded some amazing beautiful sprawling improvs.

When I got back from a couple of months in the US, Patrick and Roy had already set about editing the big improvs down, distilling them, finding ‘the deeper magic‘ – it’s not the way I usually work, but in this instance, especially due to Patrick’s diligence and focus, the edits were really spotlighting what was best in each tune. We brought in Mark Lockheart to play sax and bass clarinet on a couple of tunes, and Gwyn Jay Allen on one track. The essence of the pieces is improvs – largely the edits were for length. It’s not a ‘remix’ project.

Along the way, each person who’s been involved, from the other musicians to artwork designers, mastering engineers and the like have got as excited about it as we are. Some really amazing music has emerged from a free flowing collaborative project, that is very much the sum of its parts. It made it particularly hard to decide on a name for the band, given that there was no ‘band leader’ in the trad sense. We arranged our names in various orders, and settled on the one that looked least like a firm of chartered accountants. But this is as much a Roy Dodds record as it is a Steve Lawson record. Same for Patrick. Their personality and musical magic is evident in every second of the music. 1+1+1=a very big 1. 🙂

And now the music is finished, and we’ve got a CD release date, vaguely – we’re going for mid October.

But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we’ll have a very special digital version, with some lovely exclusive material, available very soon. You best bet is to sign up for my mailing list on the front page here, or follow @lawsondoddswood on twitter.

You can hear one tune from the album on my Reverb Nation page, and one on Roy’s myspace page. And I’ll post more about it here ASAP.

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Design Museum gig last friday…

May 27th, 2008 · Comments Off on Design Museum gig last friday…

About two weeks ago, I got an email from electronic drum-monkey extraordinaire, Andrew Booker, asking me to do a gig with his improv collective Improvizone, at the design museum. This appealed on a few different levels – firstly, Andrew’s a fantastic musician and top bloke. Note that the first time I saw Andrew live, I was stood next to Brian Eno who’s comment on Andrew’s playing was ‘have you got his phone number?’… yup, he’s fab. Secondly, I’ve been reading about Improvizone for a long time on his blog, and love the idea – it’s quite Recycle Collective-ish in its concept, but tends to be a little more electronica-led and not quite as structurally defined [Recycle gigs are always 3 sets, 3 musicians, 3 lots of solo/duo/trio performance].

I then find out that while the gig doesn’t pay (I knew that, no problem), the event we were playin at was a ticketed thing, with peoples paying money to be there… uh-oh. That’s not so great: I’m working on a ‘creative commons’ type manifesto for these kind of gigs (more on the blog soon), and that clearly went against that idea – offering my music free to soundtrack someone else’s money-making didn’t sound good at all… Quick chat with Andrew, and it seems there’s some expenses available, so not completely free and that, combined with the enticement of great people to play with and some connections at the venue for further gigs makes me stick with the gig.

I’m rather glad I did, as it was musically a hugely satisfying experience – the line-up was completed by laptop twiddler Os, who, as well as triggering and manipulating samples of guitarist Michael Bearpark (some great sounds there!), would be processing and looping me, in Ableton Live.

Now, after a chat a few years ago with David Torn about group loop-infected improv, I generally take Torn’s view that it makes most sense to have a ‘master looper’ in a band, and have them take the most responsibility for that side of things. This doesn’t preclude other looping, it’s just like having a producer on a record… the Recycle Collective usually works like this, even with all the other musicians looping and processing up a storm…

The nice thing about Os looping me is that a) he’s very experienced with looping ideas b) he had headphones available for previewing stuff rather than just randomly processing things that may or may not work and c) Ableton Live is a pretty versatile platform on which to loop things.

So the upshot was that I played less than usual, often tossed a bassline and some ambience in Os’ direction at the beginning of a tune and then had him grabbing snippets of melody as we went on. If I was playing a ‘normal’ bassline, he’d quite often tell me he’d grabbed that, and I could move on and do all kinds of interesting Looperlative mangling of my own, while he looped and processed what was coming out… All kinds of fun. And his Ableton set up was sending a click track to Andrew on drums…

All lots of fun, and it made for some fabulous, enjoyable, freewheeling and at times downright funky improv!

And, what’s more, the venue loved it, and want us back. We’ll have to negotiate on money, clearly, as their expectations may well be tainted by the ‘freeness’ of the first gig, but they know what we do, how well it works in that setting so we have known skillz to bargain with. Hurrah!

And, once again, I’ve got another gallery show experience to throw into the pot for the new album ideas, to combine with all the twisted country stuff that came from the Rob Pepper Gallery show… twisted country electronica, anyone?

Tags: bass ideas · Gig stuff · looping · Music News · Musing on Music · tips for musicians