Friday, April 10, 2009

Steve Lawson's - Behind Every Word

These days I find new music through means other than radio. Podcasts, blogs,music websites like Spotify or and even through social networks like MySpace and Twitter. I download music mainly from and directly from the musician's websites. The radio is simply not enough these days.

Through emusic in particular, I have come across a huge number of different things, from the back catalogue to artists like Elbow and Porcupine Tree to gems like Bill Evan's Complete Village Vanguard Session.

One of those gems that I found recently was Steve Lawson. Steve is a London based bass player who mainly plays solo bass music. He is very well known for being highly active and visible on the internet on Twitter in particular, but also a very active blogger. He teaches bass through normal face to face classes but also using new and innovative means like skype and iChat.

Recently, I asked him which album to download to start getting into his music and he recommended going for his latest one, which I got from emusic in the last few days. This is incredible music that you wouldn't be exposed to if it wasn't for the power of the internet. Steve's solo music is made of live looping of multiple layers of bass "soundscapes".

Essentially, what this means is that Steve plays the first layer of a song and records it, probably the equivalent of the bass in a "normal" song. That keeps on repeating. Then he plays a second layer. Lets say, the rhythm guitar equivalent. And then he plays the melody as a bass solo on top of it. Don't know how long has this technique been around. The earliest example I have seen was Jaco Pastorius for some of his solos with Weather Report. These days is very common with artists like Michael Manring but even with mainstream artists like KT Tunstall

The first song of the album, Blue Planet, is a particularly good example because of the way the layers are played, it is very easy to understand the process.

I really recommend this album, but if you don't believe me, believe Victor Wooten himself when he says:

"Steve Lawson is a brilliant musician. I've known about him and listened to him for many years. He may not be one of the most famous bassists but he is definitely one of the most talented."

Taken from the notes page of the CD in