where am I going with this?

I have a couple of things recorded now for whatever the next album is going to be. As has happened before — especially with the last one, I’m really not sure where it’s going. I’m also not yet hearing something that really stands out and tells me “yes, I want more of this,” and these tracks might get culled once I do find that groove, or just collect more stuff. It happens. But clarity would be nice to have!

Even more so though: I don’t quite know where I’m going with bass, what my actual goal is, how I see myself playing it.

A lot of this is just me wanting to play something else, learn something new and be a bit casual-but-serious about it, if that makes sense. It may also awaken my interest in playing other instruments as well. Come for the bass, stay for the mandolin? I’ll consider that an optional side quest for now, or an expansion pack 🙂

I have a deep love for synth music. I like the bass and fretless in particular, but honestly, my appreciation for genres where bass guitar or upright bass are prominent is much more casual. I don’t dream of being the next Jaco or Flea or Bootsy, nor do I particularly want to play flashy stuff like Michael Manring or Charles Berthoud.

I picked the instrument not for its typical genre or role, but its characteristics — where it stands in terms of music theory, timbre and possibilities, and relative ease of playing. (The smaller scale length and lower string tension of U-bass in particular is a big part of that.) I feel like I can integrate it into ambient/drone music more naturally and comfortably than I could guitar, mandolin, percussion, etc. It’ll require some creative leaps as well as learning technique, and I’m kind of excited about that.

Ambient or drone bass guitar is not wholly unheard of, it’s just unusual compared to “regular” guitar. Groups like Sunn O))) and GY!BE certainly do involve bass. I’m aiming at a less rock side than that, and certainly more of a solo project. But it’s perhaps a thousand mile journey rather than a million.

In terms of technique, I doubt I will need to play fast, but I will need to play clean. My intonation needs to be good, even high up the neck, and my right-hand control will need to be on point. I want to be able to play cleanly without having multiple strings ringing out when I don’t want them to, so finding my way around the fretboard without open strings may be important. Slapping is probably not going to be needed, tapping or at least hammer-on may be. Finding effects that compliment the bass will be important, but that leans heavily on my synthesis experience anyway.

Figuring out workflow for recording will be another challenge. Not being a cephalopod, I don’t see how I can play bass and synths/mix faders simultaneously. I won’t want to knock the bass around while recording, with its piezo pickup that will transmit every motion noise. So I predict some multitracking in my future. There’s also looping as a possibility — I feel like I should be able to do that with software rather than relying on a looper pedal as such.

And of course, the kind of thing I decide to play will also determine questions such as fretted vs. fretless, Wing-like vs sticking to U-bass, or even something that could be played lap steel style or with other unusual techniques. If I want to use an e-bow, that also means steel strings.

Also, let it be known I’m deciding officially to pass on the Make Noise Strega (or any other small synths). I’m sure it’s a joy and it fits my style, but I can’t find a way to integrate it non-awkwardly without giving up other gear, and I don’t think the exchange would make sense. I still do want to set up a better stand for the Minibrute 2S just so it’s not so wobbly and awkward — but not to try to make room for more gear. Knowing that I may want other basses in the future will also make it easier to say “no more synths” definitively. 🙂