The Best Hold Music Ever (Pt. 1): Steve Lawson & Mike Outram – Invenzioni


My kickstarter campaign is well underway, and has been going pretty well so far!  It’s such a heartwawrming delight to see new pledges come in, and I can’t wait to make all these lovely packages – the handmade art cards seem to be a popular option, which tickles me pink, and one backer has signed up for the Picture Me This reward, which I think may be my personal favorite.

If you’re thinking about joining us, now’s a wonderful time, as I’ll be doing some special pledger-only updates, including sending out the first ADVANCE SINGLE DOWNLOAD to all backers in just a few days!  It’s a bit non-traditional to send rewards prior to the campaign ending, but I just can’t wait to share this music with you. And I’ll be sending backers ($5 and above) ADVANCE ALBUM DOWNLOADS as soon as the project is funded ($8,000), even if the campaign isn’t over yet. So if we get there early, we can all celebrate together! My birthday is coming up on October 4…just sayin ;)

In the meantime, I wanted to share some new music that’s had me swooning lately. Consider it your very own on-hold music while you wait for Sephyra to be released. May it whet your appetite for what’s to come…

There are a few albums I want to share, starting with this one. Steve Lawson is a wonderful solo fretless bass player. He does marvelous things with looping to stretch the instrument far beyond the ‘traditional’ bass palette to create entire sonic worlds. Steve plays on two songs on Sephyra, one of which backers will soon have the opportunity to hear. So here’s a little introduction to his music, if you’ve not yet had the pleasure of hearing it (go ahead and put it on while you read, this is a bit long):

#1: Steve Lawson & Mike Outram – Invenzioni – This album has been on heavy rotation in the Artemis den since it was released last week. It may well usurp the position of my favorite of Steve’s albums, which to now has been 11 Reasons Why 3 Is Greater Than Everything. Invenzioni is an utterly psychedelic journey from start to finish, and if I hadn’t witnessed for myself what happened when Steve & Daniel Berkman got together for the first time, I’d say it’s incomprehensible that it’s a first time, purely improvised collaboration between these two artists. But I know better.

The album’s title is perfect, as the music for me seems to paint a stereoscopic, cinematic journey of the invention of, well, everything. The first track, A Beautiful Mind, starts off like a glimpse of our world from afar, its layered melodies smiling with all the rich, complex patterned beauty of nature. As we’re drawn in, peaceful warmth becomes laced with strangeness, the human element emerges as metallic surges scrape the sky, sending up clouds of smoke to scream and dive before dissipating into the clear blue.

70 Degrees In The Dark begins to reach backward in time, past the heaving, gritty clang of industry, into the dusty twang of Old West. Distorted loops and layers and cowboyish riffs ride slowly off into some bone-bleached horizon, where long reverbs mirage and melt the landscape til it dissolves into blazing sun. Your momma said to cover your eyes, but you’re hypnotized by the light, and now you’re being sucked gently through a wormhole into deep space, past the history of the universe toward some ancient, pre-elemental moment.

What exists before elements?

First One Home paints the picutre kaleidoscopically. A primordial soup of ethers and tones swoop and swim in an exploratory dance. Drenched in echoing delays, clouds of swirling color, heat and gas float and coalesce: warm golds, gunmetal steel, threads of platinum white drift and weave together, til gravity takes hold, elements take form. A theme emerges, a tiny root of dark, pensive melody begins to glow within some hovering ball of glittering dust, and a world begins to grow. Elements to molecules…water, atmosphere…a tiny rivulet becomes a spring, and in a moment of soft electricity, up springs life. Bass lines grow roots, stretching out and diving down while guitar lines swerve up into the air like tiny tendrils emerging from rain-hugged soil, til tiny leaf becomes teeming jungle thick with impossibly tall trees and dappled sunlight.

Light Over Water is comprised only of Outram’s guitar playing, with Steve looping, reversing, and affecting Mike’s notes and feeding them back to ripple across the sparkling surface. The piece for me sketches a morning in a strange new world. Gentle melodies bubble and blink like creatures waking, mysteriously sprung from the soil over night, and setting out to explore the spacious, fertile terrain…ambling bears of mud and clay, yawning straw tigers, fuzzy bronze and wooden insects buzzing about in the quiet air, giant metal birds, darkening the sky beneath vast wingspans as they hover low and echo lonely, burbling alien cries…

In the final track, Dance Moves, perhaps one creature finds another, and conversation begins. Looped basslines create a warm bed over which melodies slowly soar and dance, some round and natural, some stretched and distorted, raw and shimmering. The mood is dark and deep, and if there is a hint of sadness, I suspect not the ache of separation but that of the joyful relief of reunion. The piece curves curiously into a sleepy rhythm, and drifts off like two friends talking, laughing, philosophizing into the wee hours of the night.

Invenzioni is only the first of three albums to eventually emerge from this first-meeting, one-off improvised conversation. I look foward with much anticipation to the rest of the story.

Obviously, this album is quite the psychedelic experience for me. Perhaps it’s because I usually listen during yoga practice, where my senses are particularly open and prone to flights of fancy. Plus I’m a bit feverish at the moment. I’m curious to know, what imagery and emotion does this music evoke for you? Feel free to leave your own response in the comments section below…it’s always nice when one conversation begets another.

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  • Schezel

    whales, whales, whales.
    wellbeing, wellbeing
    arching, crashing,breaching again.

    then a peaceful lullaby greets the oncoming night

    To be sure
    It takes me to the ocean and says good night.