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The Surrender Of Time

by Steve Lawson

supported by
Gavin Harmon
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Gavin Harmon I greatly admire Steve and all of his music. Like all of his releases, this album is distinctly profound in so many respects. It may cause you to feel things you least expect, and question things you have never questioned before. Sit down, relax, and enjoy this like you would a delicious home-cooked meal. Your appetite will appreciate it. :) Favorite track: Ten Years Too Late.
Alex Alexander
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Alex Alexander Love the synths, dissonance, unpredictable melodic shifts, and the more organic(?) percussion sounds. Unfolds very fluidly, even while the atmosphere sometimes gets so tense that glitched-out happy melodies feel like pained smiles (especially on the first track)--makes a kind of sense, given the socio-political context of this record's creation. Favorite track: Waking Up To What You've Done.
Rachel Rhodes
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Rachel Rhodes I really hate having to pick a favorite track, because each and every one says so much to me. Inspiring! Favorite track: I Thought Only Foreigners Knew That.
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When You Are Accustomed To Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression. This is a quote that’s been rolling around this year. No-one seems quite sure who first said it, but its clarity is profound, and its implications can be seen in so much contemporary discourse. The notion that as we shift away from the various prejudices and inequalities of history, those who have benefited from them aren’t letting go without a fight… As a white, male, English-speaking, mostly-straight, able-bodied man, I’m pretty much in the ‘apex predator’ category in the ongoing culture war. And with that comes a fairly epic responsibility to deploy that privilege against its own existence. The undermining of white power, of patriarchy, of euro-centric, ableist, heteronormative assumptions about the world won’t happen without those of us who benefit from all of those inequalities pushing them away, giving them up and undermining the bogus premises on which they rely. And it hurts. Both the realisation that you’ve lived this messed up life of privilege while complaining about how hard done by you’ve been, and of course the pain of being on the receiving end of all that inequality. So we listen without prejudice, we hear the voices of those who bear witness to what we’ve done, and we amplify their voices, while resisting the urge to talk for them… And when our own words falter, we make music… Musically, it makes extensive use of some of my favourite sounds - the metallic scrapes and clangs that will crop up throughout the album. They are woven into the bass parts in interesting ways - one of the creative leaps forward here is combining bass and Quneo parts so they overlap, rather than just been added as separate layers. This gets to that right from the off…
Waking Up To What You’ve Done This one has two meanings - one macro, and one deeply personal. The emerging sense that your previously rationalised actions have caused a whole lot of pain for people who deeply care about is a horrible one, but one that we’ve got to avoid running away from. Waking up to what you’ve done is a vital, vital part of working out what to do to fix it, to restore and repair the damage done, and to letting go of your imagined right to defend your actions each time the other person brings it up. Waking up, then letting go. The macro reflection was on the days and weeks following the vote to leave the EU. As the realisation dawned on people that they’ve quite possibly massively, epically fucked up in choosing to vote Leave, the parallels with the personal arguments of ‘I didn’t think it’d end up here, I thought it wouldn’t affect anything’ are clear. So again, the need to wake up is there, the need to deal with what you’ve done, where you are, and what the path is to restoration… Musically, we’re a minute and a half into it before there’s any bass at all - the main body of the track is all played on the Quneo - more metallic samples, and a distorted Rhodes sound (the only keyboard sound on the whole record - all the other ‘synth’ sounds you hear are bass). Opening myself up to what these sounds bring to my music is a really interesting journey. It also leaves me free to play very different kinds of melody, and juxtapose different kinds of sound. Structure-wise this is a really simple tune, but the ebb and flow of the volume of the parts in the loop mean that they keep moving from the foreground to the background, shifting in relation to the melody over the top.
Wait And See What Happens This is another one specifically about time. About waiting, about not being able to rush things, no matter how much you want things to progress as a faster rate. It’s about letting go of control over what happens because of what you’ve done, about the Taoist idea that you can’t control what will happen, just how you respond to what does happen. As life unfolds, there’s an awful lot of waiting and seeing, but it’s an action. You can’t predict the future, but you can respond to its unfolding, you can name the shapes that loom on the horizon. Music notes - the percussion sample set here was made entirely from kitchen implements! I’m really enjoying using unlikely sounds, and playing ‘drums’ in a non-drummerly way. I’ve always loved ‘stretchy time’ - particularly for looping, letting things lope along, and making space for glitches and irregularities to unfold in interesting ways. This one is a lot more regular, for a ticking clock vibe in keeping with the theme, with a straight up chordal loop over the percussive bed, but then the extra clangs and clatters are interspersed with the melody, playing both bass and Quneo at the same time.
I Thought Only Foreigners Knew That This was inspired by a fascinating encounter. I have a couple of friends from Bulgaria, and was talking with one of them about the EU vote, about the tendency of British people, specifically English people, to revise our history, and imagine that there was some idyllic time in the past before immigration, globalisation and whatnot came along and ruined everything… It’s an a-historicaal perspective, one that ignores the brutal racism, misogyny and homophobia of the 40s and 50s, one that overlooks the kinds of medical and technological advances that we benefit from thanks to globalisation, and also one that ignores the simple fact that the power that we had at that time came about through the conquest and killing of the British Empire. We spent a few hundred years going round the planet, stealing resources, enslaving people, killing anyone who disagreed and propping up our own quality of life with the spoils of those incursions. After WWII, and the devastation it wrought on the UK economy and infrastructure, we were utterly reliant on immigration, on the generosity of those who came to work here and help rebuild the country. Often, the attraction of being here was amplified by the degree to which British intervention in their home nations had made life for the poor far far worse there… But with that immigration came culture, knowledge, cuisine, music, technology, and a scope for a much broader perspective on things if only we’d listen for a while. So I was recounting some of these ideas to my Bulgarian friend who commented ‘I thought only foreigners knew that’ - the notion that the UK’s strength lies in its rapacious history is common knowledge outside of these ridiculous islands, and our inability to listen to anyone else’s perspective leaves us deaf to this much need perspective on our global responsibilities. So for the music here, I looked into the scales used in Bulgarian music, and Roma music in particular, and found this rather evocative ‘hungarian minor scale’ - it’s like a natural minor scale but with the 4th and 7th intervals raised by a semitone. That gives a whole load of really interesting harmonic and melodic possibilities. For more on Bulgarian music, put ‘Bulgarian Wedding Music’ into YouTube. It’s pretty amazing stuff!
Five Stages 06:23
Five Stages The Five Stages in question are the five stages of grief. This was the earliest recorded piece for this album - it’s the bridge between the Referendum sessions and the period of recording that led to The Surrender Of Time. It’s very much a reflection on the feeling that something of great importance was lost when we voted to leave the EU. Not that the EU is some kind of utopian institution - far from it, especially in light of the great evil it has meted out against Greece, Portugal and Ireland - but as a step away from internationalism towards isolationism, it felt wholly regressive, and if we go the whole way, large parts of it will do irreversible damage. But as always, it’s more complex than that. The sense that all it has done is uncover a series of schisms and inequalities already at work in the UK is palpable, the feeling that we can have a more honest conversation as a result of people doing such a monumental dangerous and damaging thing… Politics is in a right mess, and when we take a step like this, there needs to be time to grieve for what’s lost and reflect on where we’re going before planning a course of action. The days following the referendum were chock full of people making predictions that were proved false within minutes, and declaring statements they couldn’t possibly back up, or which were contradicted by their colleagues who hadn’t got the memo… So this was the soundtrack to a bit of the grief. My own attempt to process some of that feeling of loss, and get it squared away so we can start to build again. Musically, there’s no looper on here until right at the end - the pad under the first 3/4s of the tune is just my TC Electronic Flashback Delay, and the Quneo is played between the melodic phrases…
Her Kindness 06:47
Her Kindness The first time I think I’ve actually dedicated a piece of music to my wife. Of course, everything I do is made possible by her, inspired by her and influenced by her. We’re a musical team even when we’re not working together. But this year our relationship has survived a pretty rocky spell and that survival is due pretty much entirely to Her Kindness. I’m grateful beyond words for her friendship, love, grace and forgiveness. What an amazing woman. Music notes - this is the only track on the new album to feature my Modulus 6 string fretted bass. Have just got my new Elrick 6 string fretted, I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring what that bass brings to my music-world, not surprisingly. But for this one, I start out on the Elrick, and then switch to the Modulus for the 2nd solo. It’s run through two guitar amps to get a really jazz guitar kind of vibe for the sound. The two sound so great together!
Come The Revolution I’ve always been confused by the prevailing view of hip hop as either violent, misogynist or rabidly consumerist music. I know that part of the hip hop world has gone that way, just as Reggae did in the late 80s, but for me both styles will always be first and foremost protest music. So many of the records that have influenced me the most politically and socially have been hip hop records - Public Enemy, The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy, Akala, Spearhead, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Nena Cherry, The Roots… loads of music that has taught me about the world and fired my desire to be part of making it better. The first time I got to make music that was explicitly influenced by hip hop was the beginnings of my project with Divinity last year, and that was the major reason why I shifted from a ‘bass only’ approach to my solo one to one that incorporated drums, keys and found sound samples via the Quneo - that influence has carried on in every project I’ve been a part of since, and here again, the hip hop is to the fore. Come The Revolution is a tribute to all those musical and political revolutionaries whose words lit a fire under me. Long may it continue.
Ten Years Too Late Ten years too late for what? This was recorded the day of the release of the Chilcot report, when the folly and lies of the Bush/Blair war in Iraq were laid bare, in several million words of eviscerating detail. But we knew so much of it at the time. So much of what Chilcot told us had happened was predicted by those in the anti-war movement who were dismissed as mindless peaceniks and hippies, as troublemakers, as unpatriotic… But they were proved right about so many of the things they said before, during and in the aftermath of the disastrous illegal war. Again, the process of thinking about it, the anger, the sadness, the sense of loss, the screaming into the void of helplessness as you watch entire populations politically self-immolate to ‘stick it to the man’ all feeds into the music… Music notes - the main groove is created using the ‘quantise replace’ function in the Looperlative LP1, with two different subdivisions assigned to two different tracks (track 1 chopped into 16 bits and track 3 chopped into 32) - that means that as I insert chunks of audio, it builds that kind of step sequencer vibe. I so love the way this one builds, especially the moment where the wah solo kicks in after the drum layering (again, another fun exploration of how drums can be used in a way that no kick drummer would ever use them…)


released September 5, 2016

Everything, from bass playing to photography: Steve Lawson

Recorded Live in the studio (no overdubs, pre-recorded loops or edits), June/July 2016

Basses: Elrick Gold Series SLC 6 String, Modulus 6 String Fretless, Modulus 6 String Fretted. All strung with Dunlop Strings
Pedals/rack gear: Pedals by MXR, Dunlop, TC Electronic, Darkglass, Subdecay, Seymour Duncan, Rack gear: Looperlative LP1, Lexicon MPX-G2, MOTU Ultralite Mk III, 2 Mini Korg Kaoss Pads. Keith McMillen Softstep 2 and Quneo controllers.
Software: FL Studio, Reaper, UAD/Bluecat Audio/Focusrite plugins

THANKS to: Sue Edwards for choose the track order. Once again, she's put together an album I LOVE listening to, but not one that I'd have chosen. Genius.

Darryl Anders at MXR/Dunlop, Rob Elrick at Elrick Basses, Joe Perman and Tony Cimperman at Modulus Guitars, Morten Ehlers at TC Electronic. Darkglass, Keith McMillen,

Paul Sips, Marc Mennigmann, Divinity, Daniel Berkman, Steve Jenkins, Emre Ramazanoglu, Andrew Dubber, Andy Edwards, Phi Yaan-Zek, Jon Thorne, Rob Turner, Ian Smith, Reeves Gabrels, Jason Cooper, Divinity, Tanya Donelly, Kristin Hersh, Beardyman, Gawain Hewitt, Bob Davis, Steve Parker

Most of all Lobelia, who inspires, teaches, guides and tolerates me on a daily basis. What an extraordinary blessing it is to be married to you.




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