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Starship (live) is OUT NOW

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Starship (live) is out today on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music and other digital platforms.

This ca.30′ improvisation called ‘Starship’ was recorded live in 2013 and comprised part of my PhD research into 20th century bass guitar repertoire (entitled ‘A Portfolio of Compositions Expanding the Role of the Electric Bass Guitar in Contemporary Western Art Music’ (Oxford Brookes 2013)). I revisited the work earlier this year and it seemed like a good time to properly release this into the wild.

It is a tale of a one-way, solo trip into outer space told in three parts:

I. Launch
II. Solitude
III. Void

The inspiration and concept of the piece originated from a free-improvisation workshop that I attended at the University of Birmingham in April 2013, run by Mopomoso guitarist, John Russell (rest in peace, John). During the workshop, participants took part in a short performance of ‘Spacecraft’ (a work created originally by the free improvisation group, Musica Elettronica Viva), which John Russell described as an improvised performance during which members of the group imagine and create sounds that depict the noises and atmosphere of a spacecraft and crew in deep space. The original Musica Elettronica Viva concept may not have been exactly as Russell described, but the idea of representing the abstract sounds of a spacecraft through improvisation was particularly appealing, especially using only the bass guitar as a source of sound. MEV’s original concept was, in fact, more of a means to an end or a structure that could be used as a framework for improvisation.

The approach I took toward developing the ‘Starship’ concept was similar to this idea, with the concept providing framework, inspiration and direction for improvisation. ‘Starship’ was developed as an improvised piece for solo bass guitar that focused on the creation of a work using exclusively non-pitch-defined material (as far as possible), techniques and processes developed during previous studies and bass guitar specific sounds that did not require post-recording electronic processing or treatment. These techniques and approaches would specifically concentrate on the abstract concept of an astronaut undertaking a solo voyage into outer space, with the bass guitar producing the sounds of the spaceship or spacecraft, machinery, celestial objects and phenomena and also the thoughts and mind-set of the astronaut.

All sounds in this piece were produced entirely from the bass guitar, e-bow, loop pedal and amplifier, with the exception of some abstract noise created from a sound sculpture of mine, called the ‘Deconstructor’ (the rattling sounds in the first section of the work). The only additional processing used was some reverb throughout and some delay in the final section.

I hope you enjoy this deep dive into the void of space and beyond… 

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