Yes indeed. It’s that time of the year again when I venture forth back into the studio to work on some new solo material for your collective listening pleasure. I’ve been tweeting about it over the last few days as work has begun here and I thought it might be a good idea to let you all know what’s happening with the new record.
During my time working on The Comedy of Errors at the National Theatre, I’ve grown rather fond of the acoustic bass guitar. I must admit I never thought this would happen as the instrument, by definition, is physically flawed. Such a small bodied bass instrument can never project like an upright bass, but it turns out that with the right preamp it can produce a fantastic and very individual sound. It took a long time to find the right bass but I eventually settled on a Breedlove acoustic from Guitar Guitar in Epsom.
I did a little test recording about a month ago which I posted to Soundcloud. The bass has a great gnarly sound and the preamp gives me quite a lot of control over how much of the fret noise I want. I want a lot… For those of you that haven’t heard it yet, here’s my demo track.
So. I wanted this album to be very different to the previous two. By deciding on recording an entirely acoustic album I have intentionally imposed a number of limitations on the way I usually work on the solo project. Most of the effects that characterize Mandala and The Knowledge of Things To Come simply do not work with the Breedlove. I’ve decided to mainly keep the sound of the bass relatively pure (well, it’ll be smothered in reverb and delays) and try to bring out some of the nuances and harmonics that you only get from an acoustic bass guitar. So the Pod X3 Pro will be having an easy time during the sessions. I have set up one patch will I will probably use for the entire album. It has a nice open reverb, some light chorus, delay and an octaver for when I fancy a bit of extra bottom. Gone are the distortions, pitch shifts and backwards delays. For now…
It’s also rather disconcerting going back to four strings after playing all my other solo material on the six. In many ways this is the greatest limitation on the process. A great deal of my solo/live-looping vocabulary is based on the extended range the six string offers. I am having the develop a new approach which relies less on the instrument and more on my own creativity. Which is a good thing.
None of this is to say that I won’t be making full use of the awesome talent-booster that is the Looperlative LP1. Most of the sound manipulation will come from the Looperlative this time rather than banks of guitar effects. Just a few days in and I’m finding out new things about the Breedlove all the time. For example; the best recorded sound comes from playing with a slightly sideways ‘double bass’ style right hand technique rather than proper bass fingerstyle.
This is turning into a bass geek-fest. I do apologize…
So anyway, the new record is going to sound very different to the previous two. I’ve also been listening to a lot of acoustic music of late for inspiration. Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger has proved a big revelation over the last few weeks. Apart from Jonas Hellborg I can’t think of any particular bassist that has fully embraced the acoustic bass guitar, so I’ve been listening to a lot of other instruments with similar characteristics such as the lute, sarod and bass viol. Hopefully some of these influences will filter through into the music.
That’s it for now folks. Here I am typing away when I should be toiling over a hot laptop. I’ll keep tweeting progress reports as I go along. I’m using the tag #soloalbum3 for now. Turns out my intended album title does not work as a hash-tag as it has brackets in it. Bugger. Feel free to use the tag whenever you like and help spread the word.
Until next time…