Some things change, some things stay the same. Every since I started playing solo, I've been exploring what I can do with just basses and processing, live in real time. No (or minimal) edits, no overdubs...
10 solo albums later, and the influence of a few of my recent collaborators sees me adding new sounds to the mix. The key element is the addition of the Quneo - a controller made by Keith McMillen (who also make the Softstep foot controller I've been using for the last few years). The Quneo allows me to play drums and synth sounds alongside the bass - the grid layout (like a drum-machine) means that synth and keyboard parts can end up being pretty unusual (hear The Ice Cracks...) but the sensitivity means that the drum parts can be fantastically subtle (the intro to It's Our Scars That Unite Us). I'm fascinated by the way that percussive sounds fit into my stumbling, rolling rhythmic world - I've avoided metronomic timing for my entire solo career, as it tends to make loop based stuff really stilted and uninteresting, so doing that with drums, particularly given the influence on my sense of rhythm of J Dilla and particularly the way his influence was channeled on D'Angelo's Voodoo... It's made for a record that is, I think, the best solo thing I've ever released.
I recorded over three hours of material for this album - across the space of about 6 weeks - as I was starting out (right up until I first got the Quneo) I was posting some of the new work for my Bandcamp subscribers... that quickly became a subscriber-only album, called Closing In. Which I'm really proud of.
Then, once I'd recorded the rest of the material, I handed it over to my friend Sue Edwards to choose and sequence the album. I'd made my own shortlist of 8 tracks that I thought should be on the album, I had a title for the album, but I gave her free rein to pick whatever she felt made for the best album. As it is, there was only a 2 track crossover between her list and mine. She came up with a beautifully coherent, mellow, thematically consistent album - that's what you're listening to here.
The 'Triptych' of Theoria, Poeisis and Praxis are named for Aristotle's understanding of three basic activities of humanity - thinking, production and action... We imagine things, we makes things, we act... we cycle through those, combine them in different ways (acting on our ideas in order to make things, allowing our actions to coalesce into new notions of what it is to be human...) Guided by curiosity and exploration, my music journey is all about all three - dreaming up new reasons, motivations and ideas, acting on those and exploring their usefulness through action, and making things - my ongoing recorded output is a story-telling project of its own, a metastory of what it is to be a musician navigating the world through sound, asking better questions... Improvisation has been my musical model of choice because it allows for the greatest level of abstraction from the desire to second guess what music SHOULD be. Music just IS, but we get to listen back and learn its lessons...
But it meant that I could put together a 2nd album of music that I adored too. A more eclectic exploration of where the muse had taken me of late. That album is The Way Home, also available here on Bandcamp.
released September 14, 2015
recording, mixing, artwork, photography, composition all instruments (live) - Steve Lawson, at Lawsound Studio.
co-production, track selection, sequencing and general fabulousness - Sue Edwards ( www.sueedwardsmanagement.com