Trying to pin down just what it is that Steve Lawson does can be tricky - he's a solo bassist who spends a lot of his time making very unbasslike noises. He's an ambient experimenter who likes pop tunes too much to go strictly soundscape, but is way too atmospheric to sit comfortably in the 'instrumental rock' category. His electronica leanings produce some amazing hi-tech sounds, but he resolutely avoids programmed beats, making the eventual hybrid of jazz, electronica, ambient, new age and 'new acoustic' influences infuriatingly hard to pigeonhole.
Having released six CDs on his own Pillow Mountain Records label, Steve has carved out a niche for himself as a composer and improvisor making music for the sake of itself. Whether playing completely solo, in his acclaimed duo with American singer Lobelia or in one of the many duo and trio line-ups to be spawned by The Recycle Collective, Lawson's remit is to soundtrack the moment, to somehow put across in music the thoughts and emotions that can't be put into words.
He's managed to find a substantial audience, which has lead to headline shows across Europe and The US, major theatre tours in the UK opening for Level 42 and the 21st Century Schizoid Band, releasing six acclaimed albums, sold out shows at the Edinburgh Festival and reams of international press, radio play, and praise from critics, fans and fellow musicians alike.
“The richness of this music makes for a
rewarding listening experience on all levels
and I think Steve's approach represents a
real step forward for the art of solo bass.” - Michael Manring
Latest Solo Album:
With the June 06 release of Behind Every Word on Pillow Mountain Records - his fourth solo album, and sixth album overall - Lawson consolidated his position as the UK's leading solo bass guitarist, and brought his unique and beautiful music to an ever-growing audience.
Once again Steve chose to record the entire album live in the studio, using live looping technology to sample and layer his huge palette of bass sounds into 11 exquisitely beautiful slices of aural heaven.
“Lawson's writing and his phenomenal command
of the possibilities of looping creates a compelling
and surprising variety of sounds one would never
imagine the bass capable of producing.” - JazzWise
There's a freshness to the music on the new album, partly inspired by his creative involvement in the development of a brand new looping device - the Looperlative. Says Steve,
“Grace And Gratitude, my last album, felt like a pretty complete statement of what I was about as a solo musician up to that time. I was in no hurry to follow it up, hence the two year gap. It wasn't until I was invited to contribute to the design of the Looperlative, and had access to all the new arrangement possibilities that it offers that I felt it was time to record again. When the record light went on, the ideas started arriving.“
Indeed, the album's opening cut, Blue Planet, was the first thing recorded in the sessions, and floats along like a low-frequency companion to Ry Cooder's Paris Texas soundtrack.
The wide open Americana influence is there again on the tribute to the late M. Scott Peck, simply titled Scott Peck, which features a cameo appearance by pedal steel guitar legend, BJ Cole. Steve's collaboration with BJ started three or four years ago, as the pair began getting together for regular recording sessions, experimenting with the possibilities that looping the two instruments together presented.
The collaboration with Cole was one of the prime inspirations for Lawson's main focus between the last two albums, The Recycle Collective. A monthly gig featuring a revolving cast of regulars and guests, The Recycle Collective is gaining a reputation as one of London's most consistently inspiring and beautiful music nights. Alongside Lawson and Cole, the night has featured Cleveland Watkiss, Orphy Robinson, Theo Travis, Leo Abrahams and an eclectic host of other musicians eager to soak up some improv inspiration.
Lawson/Dodds/Wood trio CD, Dec 2008:
The Recycle Collective was the catalyst for the brand new Lawson/Dodds/Wood album, Numbers, with Drummer Roy Dodds and Keyboardist/Guitarist Patrick Wood. The three first assembled for a Recycle Collective show in October 2007, and soon realised that chemistry like that doesn't come along to often, so booked studio time to do That Recycle Thing in the studio - two days of improvising. No start points, no rules, just playing great music. The album came out to great acclaim in Dec 2008, and is available on CD and download now.
2009 looks to be a busy year for Steve Lawson, with other releases schedule for the year including another solo album, as well as the much anticipated duo album with Lobelia. Watch this space!