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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



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

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

Slow Food, Track By Track, Pt 1 – The Upward Spiral

August 26th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Click here to download The Upward Spiral. And here to download the whole ‘Slow Food’ album.

It was really tricky to choose the opener for the album, and this wasn’t the obvious first choice, as it has a kind of false start… it feels likes it’s going to be all big and ambient, then Trip hints at a sparse bass groove, I switch to the rolling rhythmic line, he follows, then jumps in with the jaunty melody, switches to fretless…

Two minutes in, it’s hopefully clear why it’s the opener.

Joyous, optimistic, improvised music. That’s the idea.

Of course it turns into a freaky glitch-fest at the end, but not before a crescendo of euphoric blade-runner-esque cinematic guitar-ish-ness.

All hail the Kaoss Pad KP3. Nuff Said.

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music

And Nothing But The Bass Is 10 Years Old Today.

August 25th, 2010 · 6 Comments

10 years ago today, I received a shipment of CDs from ICC duplication, to the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham – it was my first solo album, And Nothing But The Bass, and the start of my solo recording career.

Here it is – please download it for free:

10 years on, and I’m less than 24 hours into the life of a brand new album, Slow Food, with Trip Wamsley. It’s been such an amazing journey, not least of all because what seemed like such a weird thing to do back then – to me and to everyone else – is now so normal. The internet is awash with people experimenting with solo bass, and looping crops up everywhere from coffee-shops to the top of the charts.

The gimmick potential diminished many years ago, for which I’m most grateful. It let me get on with making the music that mattered to me, via the method that made most sense.

Solo bass was never a circus trick for me.
I was never interested in looping as a way of showing how clever I could be.
It was a way of me getting the music inside my head out to the world.
I hear things in layers, I hear evolving texture not rock drums and last-chorus-key-changes.

The template is still much the same. I’m just much better at it. The vision is more refined, the tech is better (thank the baby Jesus for Bob Amstadt and the Looperlative) and yes, I’m orders of magnitude more developed as a musician – technically, theoretically, conceptually, melodically… I just make better music happen. At least, I make music happen that is ever-closer to the soundtrack to the inside of my head. And I’m still loving it.

I’m loving the collaborations this has all led me to – the albums with Jez Carr, Theo Travis, Lawson Dodds Wood, Mike Outram and now Trip Wamsley. The gigs with Lobelia, Michael Manring, BJ Cole, Cleveland Watkiss, Julie McKee… The myriad incredible musical moments of the Recycle Collective at Darbucka, The Vortex and Greenbelt.

And I’m grateful to every journalist that’s ever taken the time to listen to and write about the music, every radio DJ that’s ever played it, and every person who has played a CD to their friends and said ‘check this out’, or emailed them a link, burned a CDR for them, emailed them some tracks. It’s all great, and I thank you for it.

So, 10 years on, here’s the new album: Have a listen, enjoy, pay whatever you think its worth. For me, the last 10 years have been priceless.

Tags: Music News · Musing on Music

“Slow Food” With Trip Wamsley AKA Making Music With Awesome Musicians.

August 24th, 2010 · 10 Comments

Here it is!

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll be all-too-familiar with ‘it’ – the first of two duo albums with Trip Wamsley. I blogged about them here, and at the time thought they’d both be EPs. Well, I’m not sure about Trip’s release, but this one has grown into a full album – all 42 glorious minutes of it. [Read more →]

Tags: Music News · site updates