Three Recent Bass Inspirations

I am, in general, pretty picky when it comes to bass things that inspire me. Sure, there are Instagram videos that offer up 15 seconds of cleverness that raise a smile, but I’m still for the most part a long-form listener, so am left ultimately a little underfed by social media fragments.

But there are a number of bass players around doing supremely wonderful things with the bass, and today I’ll tell you about three that have been inspiring me recently:

Ruth Goller is easily one of my favourite bassists around – she’s in a tiny group of players whose presence on a record means I’m immediately interested in whatever the project might be, such is the quality of what she brings to projects, and her good taste (others in that group include Mike Watt, Charlie Haden and Tony Levin…) – she’s recently been working on an amazing project that features just her bass and three layered voices, called Skylla. Here’s the first track from it to be released, but there’s an EP or album to follow, I gather:

Skylla – ‘M1’ (Ruth Goller, Alice Grant, Lauren Kinsella) from Ruth Goller on Vimeo.

Another player whose work I’ve been enjoying immensely recently is Björn Meyer – he’s been part of Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin for a long time, and put out a solo album last year on ECM. But this album from 2016 is one that I only found on Bandcamp about a week or so ago, and I’ve been listening to LOADS since. It’s a trio of bass, drums and bass clarinet, and is full of awesome:

And finally one from earlier in the year that actually has me on one track – I’ve been a fan of Aaron Gibson’s playing for quite a few years, having discovered him through the lovely guys at No Treble. And I’d actually already pre-ordered this album before Aaron got in touch to ask me to play on it. As he says in an interview with No Treble,

“When I had finished writing “Webs”, it had this middle section that I could hear a melodic, Steve Lawson-ish, solo over. I could totally hear Steve’s tone and phrasing in that spot, but I didn’t think that I would ask him to do it. I also didn’t think that he would say yes and then get it to me within days. It’s brilliant.”

Here’s the track that I play on, but definitely go and listen to the whole album, then buy it – it’s glorious, is mostly just bass, voice and string quartet, and is available on vinyl too 🙂

Like I said, I’m funny when it comes to bassists – some of the people who are most celebrated in bass-dom do very little for me at all, and some of my favourite bassists are actually people who wouldn’t class themselves as bass players, so end up with really original approaches to our beloved instrument. Some of the others I come back to time and time again include Michael Manring, Mike Watt, Julie Slick, Rich Brown, Doug Lunn, Divinity Roxx, Dylan Desmond and Robin Mullarkey. Check out those links if you’re looking for some new inspiration – there’s quite a range of sounds in there 🙂

I don’t really divide up the things that inspire me by instrument, or even art form. Sometimes the things that drive me to create are literary or drawn from theatre or even comedy. But there’s still such a direct connection with people using the instrument I’ve committed so many years to understanding in interesting ways. I’m super-grateful for the kick in the arse all this amazing music gives me, and the challenge to make evermore meaningful music.

Got any current favourites? Stick ’em in the comments 🙂

One Reply to “Three Recent Bass Inspirations”

  1. Steve,
    I am honored, again, and thankful for your support, my friend.
    Ruth and Björn are both fantastic, thank you for the introduction!
    I am presently on Dylan kick, but here are a few albums that have inspired me lately (not bass related) and have been on heavy rotation:
    Bruce Hornsby’s Absolute Zero (Cast-off is the tune that got me into this album and it’s fucking great)
    Jesca Hoop’s Undress (Stone Child is the new one coming out, but only has a few tracks available. I am in love with all of Jesca’s music. )

    Then Guy Garvey’s Courting the Squall, and for some reason I’ve been listening to a lot of old hip hop, Mr. Music Head from Adrian Belew and Louder than Bombs from The Smiths.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *