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The Arctic Is Burning
The Arctic Is Burning
The Arctic Is Burning
- it sounds like the beginnings to a plot for a dystopian sci-fi novel... "imagine if the Arctic... CAUGHT FIRE!" - like, it's so absurd that it would ever happen. But here we are, large parts of the arctic are ablaze and not for the first time. And what's worse, scientists who know about this things reckon it could keep burning through the winter, with the peat remaining lit under the ice...
So how does this horror-show become music? Well, if you've been following this journey for any length of time, you'll know that this isn't the first time I've dived into big themes with instrumental music as my voice. Last year's Beauty And Desolation was very much part 1 of where this particular theme is going, in that it explored the fact that what felt like a gorgeous hot summer was actually a portent of just how utterly screwed we are.
And as if to add pathos to it all, the title track here was recorded on the hottest day in British history. We've literally never had a hotter day since measurements began. The Arctic Is Burning, and so is the rest of the planet. But it's not just heat. The climate emergency is much bigger in terms of its impact than just the much-less-gradual-than-we-thought increase in global temperatures. The are extremes at the other end, there are hurricanes and droughts, floods and perilous cold fronts. It doesn't take much meteorological knowledge to piece together the impact of rising sea temperatures, the impact on the air temperature, and what happens when a cold front meets a warm front...
Anyway, there's our story. The music here is a way of exploring some of the emotions around that, some of the stories that can be told, or at least given a soundtrack.
One of the joys of not being wedded to a particular genre is that I can go where the story leads, much as a film or documentary composer might. All the music here is, I imagine, pretty easily recognisable as me, but there are quite a few of the things I've been building on over the last few years that are wholly absent from this set. There's little that draws all that heavily on hip hop for its rhythmic ideas (though the more I listen to the drum loops on Business As Usual And Wildfire, the more I hear that coming through), or on Allan Holdsworth for its harmonic ideas (a reccuring theme since PS You Are Brilliant). There's a lot that's straight up diatonic, I think it's all in 4/4, and much of it is distinctly Floyd-ish (that's Pink, not Keith).
There are also none of the field recordings I've been using so frequently of late... they're still there, they just didn't call out to be used while improvising these pieces. That's the joy of open ended music making - there are no obligations, no 'have tos' - nothing that needs to be anything other that what it feels like it ought to be in the moment. The unfolding is the story. And here's one of the chapters. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe the story will take you off on a path of reading and researching what's going on around us and how best we can respond to it... As a previous title here, stolen from Dougald Hine put it, The End Of The World As We Know It Is Not The End Of The World. So while we're facing catastrophe of an indeterminate variety, we can still be building the world we want to see. We can use less, eat more wisely, cycle if possible, take care of those who can't take care of themselves and prioritise kindness and creativity over greed and accumulation of stuff. He who dies with the most stuff still dies. How to live on? Live for others.
released July 29, 2019
Bass, Quneo, Mixing, Mastering, Videography, Artwork, Photography, Sleevenotes... all just Steve Lawson on his own.
Improvised live in single unedited takes at LawSound Studios (AKA the corner of the bedroom) July 2019.
Elrick SLC 6 string fretted bass (tracks 1, 2 and 4), Elrick SLC 6 string fretless bass (track 3). Both with Dunlop strings, Aero Pickups.
Pedals: MXR Bass Preamp, MXR Sub Octave Bass Fuzz, Dunlop Crybaby Mini Bass Wah, Pigtronix Philosopher's Tone Compressor, Aguilar Agro Distortion, Pigtronix Mothership 2, Subdecay Vitruvian Mod, TC Electronic Flashback Delay, Korg mini KP1, MOD Devices Duo, MXR Reverb.
Looperlative LP1, Keith McMillen Softstep 2, K-Mix and Quneo.
Recorded, mixed and mastered in Reaper, using UAD, Blue Cat Audio and HOFA plugins.
Thanks to: Rob Elrick @ Elrick, Darryl Anders @ MXR/Dunlop, Larry Pollack @ Aero, Gianfranco Ceccolini @ MOD Devices, Bob Amstadt at Looperlative, Keith McMillen Instruments, The Daves @ Aguilar Amplification, Slickbag, Andy Edwards and Phi Yaan-Zek, Paul Thompson and Bob Davis, BIMM Birmingham, Joel McIver, Corey and Kevin @ No Treble, Scott Devine, Musical U, my Bandcamp Subscribers whose belief in this music makes it all possible.
For Lo and Flapjack. Y'all are the bestest.