New Video – The Strangest Of Things

Here’s a thing I haven’t posted in a while – a new video up on YouTube, called the Strangest Of Things (for reasons that may become apparent when you hear it.)

The other day, I got a new pedal – it’s one I’ve been wanting to try for a LOOOONG time, so I was excited to sit down and get some experimenting time in with the Pigtronix Mothership 2 Analog Synth. Those of you who’ve been following things here fro a while will know that I view pedals and processing as part of my instrument – change a pedal and it fundamentally changes what my instrument is. I don’t view it as processing a bass guitar, but building an instrument that makes a range of sounds in a number of ways. So sticking something as radically sound-altering as a synth pedal in there has all manner of amazing possibilities.

As you can maybe see from the pic, there’s a TON of control over the sound – meaning you can either get a very specific sound you want and leave it (the other video I posted yesterday to Instagram was more of that kind of approach, trying to get Bernie Worrell’s keyboard bass sound from Flashlight…) or you can have it at hand-height and tweak it the way you would a modular synth.

So, here’s the video:

I’m running my Elrick Gold Series SLC signature fretless 6 into a signal path that includes the Aguilar Tone Hammer, Pigtronix Philosopher compressor, Jule Monique tube preamp, MOD Duo running a wide stereo chorus, EQ and a cab sim, and then the MXR Reverb for those trapped chords in the middle. The fretless seems like the perfect instrument for experimenting with synth, as it gives you a second way to control the portamento on the notes – the Mothership 2 has a ‘glide control’ – you can hear that towards the end, where the notes start swooping up and down in insane ways – but I can control that glide as well on the fretless just by sliding 🙂

The cut-up effect at the beginning is all done in the Looperlative LP1 – the effect is ‘quantise replace’, and I’m swapping out 1/16th of the loop each time, sometimes with a block that’s an octave higher (by changing the speed of the replaced bit) and sometimes it’s pitch-shifted (but slowing down the loop by a particular fraction while the replace is happening) – it starts chaotic, and suddenly this amazing glitchy beautiful ostinato emerges! The filter at the end is the Kaoss Pad Mini – the drums and the glitch-line are on different tracks in the LP1, so I can route that synth part to the aux out which has the KP Mini after it.

The glitchy drum sounds are a sample set I assembled from various sources in FL Studio played in on the Quneo. The whole thing is improvised live and unedited.

I love this stage of getting ideas together with new parts to my instrument – it’s slightly Jackson Pollock-esque in that you get to throw ideas at the canvas and see what happens. How well defined the canvas is depends on how cavalier you are with the rest of the parameters. Here, I’m pretty familiar with that quantise replace function on the Looperlative, though as this is a completely redesigned version of the software (running on the first of the new hardware boxes! yay!) it does actually respond slightly differently… But it’s in 4/4, and it wasn’t to hard to work out what the key centre was once the glitchy line was running (though I can’t fully predict what the notes will be with the pitch shifted replace function! I mean, I could work it out, but I like the madness of it 😉 ) – so this is experimental stage 0.1 – definitely in Beta mode. Some of the synth stuff has wonky squirrelly pitch, though that does feel more like a 70s thing, given how unpredictable the original voltage controlled synths were…

More soon!!

Annotating Tracks With Soundcloud

As promised, when the 1st of the Steve Lawson/Mike Outram tracks reached 500 plays, we uploaded another one. It’s a really long one that goes through 3 or 4 very different sections, though that evolve on into the next in a lovely fluid way. In order to explain a little of what’s actually going on (it’s a pretty big noise for just a bassist and a guitarist to make live!) I’ve annotated the track, as you can see below. Continue reading “Annotating Tracks With Soundcloud”

Is It Good? Yes, It’s Good. Can I Make It Better? (New tune with Mike Outram)

…That’s what my brain is asking when I’m improvising.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the great pleasure and good fortune to spend a day recording with Mike Outram – guitarist extraordinaire. I’ve been a fan of Mike’s for a long time, having heard him in a couple of different settings with Singer/Songwriter Rebecca Hollweg, and more recently with Theo Travis’ Doubletalk quartet.

We were able to snag a day recording in the rather lovely studios at Leicester College, giving the students there something to record, and a very different type of project to work on. Continue reading “Is It Good? Yes, It’s Good. Can I Make It Better? (New tune with Mike Outram)”

New Live Solo Tunes!

Recorded at Friday night’s gig at the Islwyn Guitar Club in Crosskeys, Gwent, South Wales, here are two new tunes that ’emerged’ – they’re both improvs, but I like ’em, so will probably have a bash at something like them for the new album…

The recordings are remarkably good considering they’re just on a little Tascam digital recorder thingie (recorded by Andrew Buckton – fab singer/songwriter who came with me, and sang beautifully on the gig too).

here they are – enjoy!

New Tunes from Islwyn Guitar Club by solobasssteve

Video From Wednesday's gig with Michael Manring

The first bit of video from me, and a lovely little trailer for the gig (and therefor future gigs!) from BenjaminEllis of

Here’s The trailer:

And here’s the first of the duo improvs that Michael and I played, with my introduction to it (about 2 minutes of talking – I’ll probably put the music-only version of this on youtube!) More audio and video coming soon:

Steve Lawson and Michael Manring, live improv in London. from Steve Lawson on Vimeo.

Two More Contrasting Solo Bass Experiment Videos.

Since Saturday’s upload, I’ve put 2 more videos on Vimeo for your delectation and delight, which contrast the different ways that the Looperlative can be used to either simply provide a loop for a piece of music, or be integral to the way it’s created, and the sound that emerges.

I’m fascinated by the relationship between technology and end result, and by the methods that we as musicians can use to keep our own technical thoughts and experiments subservient to the greater artistic and communicative aims… Continue reading “Two More Contrasting Solo Bass Experiment Videos.”

New Ambient Music Video

Having had the aforementioned week away from playing, I sat down yesterday to do some bass-things. I started out on my fretted 6 string bass, and couldn’t really find anything that was particularly interesting to me (though that may feel very different when I go back to watch the video!), but once I switched to the fretless, things got a lot more fun.
This first video is actually the second one I recorded yesterday, and starts out pretty spacey and mellow. There a big healthy dose of fretless melody stuff in the middle – just exploring the emotional landscape of the underlying loops (which are three overlapping loops of different lengths, so the texture keeps shifting, along with the subtle changes in the harmony as the different parts of the three loops coincide to form new chords). Continue reading “New Ambient Music Video”

More Music Video – New Public Beta experiments + Duo with Theo Travis

picture of some old book, by Steve LawsonHere are the latest couple of videos I’ve put up. The first is another of the experimental ideas I’m working on for the new album – this time I wanted to try something a little more solidly rhythmic, just to see how the replace functions interact with a percussive track. (the part is played by muting all the strings, and then using a ‘double thumb’ technique, more readily associated with slap bass, to get the percussive pattern).

Continue reading “More Music Video – New Public Beta experiments + Duo with Theo Travis”

Two Contrasting New Musical Experiments (Video)

photo of a painting from the Urban Scrawl exhibition in London, April 09Here’s the two latest bits of ‘public beta test music’ that I’ve put up online.

They contrast a couple of different possible uses of the functions I’ve been exploring on the Looperlative of late – the first being using the replace functions as an ancillary bleepy effect in an otherwise mellow ballad, and the second being a full-on rhythmic bleep-fest, that veers much closer to glitch-core (though the fact that my rhythmic reference point is just a fairly slow ‘four on the floor’ kick-drum style pattern is a little less interesting than you’d expect from something more obviously IDM…) Continue reading “Two Contrasting New Musical Experiments (Video)”

Two More Musical Experiments… And a Podcast.

photo of an omlette - in now way connected to the contents of the blog post.It’s been another very creative day – after the video that I put up this morning, I got working again on some more musical experiments using the looperlative with the new buttons that I’ve programmed.

Each day that I experiment with these glitchy replace functions, it feels like I’m getting closer them being ‘musically transparent’ – where the music is bigger than the technique… I’m trying to get so comfortable with the tech that I can employ it while focussing on the music.

Continue reading “Two More Musical Experiments… And a Podcast.”

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