Steve Lawson & Mike Outram - InvenzioniThis project, the first of three albums worth of improvised material recorded as an assignment for degree students in Leicester gaining experience in audio engineering, features guitarist Mike Outram (who has played with such luminaries as Steven Wilson, Robert Fripp, Cinematic Orchestra and Photek amongst others) and bass player Steve Lawson, who continues to be a fertile collaborator and solo bass guitar experimentalist. For improvised music to truly come together there must be an element of understanding between the participants. This can be gained through familiarity of both the instrument and the collaborators involved. “Invenzioni”, although not initially intended as a cohesive piece of work, displays the kind of intuition between players that can make or break an improvisation.

The two instruments dance playfully around each other on the opening ‘A Beautiful Mind’ as if they are teasing each other and the listener is given the notion that this is part of the process of getting to be acquainted with each other. Delicate, yet furious lines, weave together, whilst the occasional abrasive shard of noise breaks through the pattern. A landscape reminiscent of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western is brought to mind on ’70 Degrees in the Dark’, as again, repeated phrases are used to carefully tease out the musical partners’ imagination and resourcefulness. Tantalizing electronic emissions punctuate the ether as ‘First One Home’ as the two guitarists, telepathically it seems, build layer upon layer over ten minutes a fragile, yet muscular, framework. As a more conventional sound is introduced we are reminded that we are in the presence of two very gifted and qualified players.

A piece such as ‘Light Over Water’ is musically evocative of the title, as manipulated sound pours over the guitar lines like a meandering stream, with the erratic sound of looped and treated instruments suggestive of breaks in the water flow. The gimmickry is never felt to be intrusive on these “compositions” but adds personality and a sense of curiosity. The longest piece on this particular release, ‘Dance Moves’ builds carefully from brooding bass lines moving alongside melancholic jazz flavoured guitar phrases. Just as the listener is being coaxed safely along to contentment, guitars swoop, screech and intimidate, mechanical noises move forwards out of the organic and into the future. Over the final few minutes the sound veers dangerously close to toying with a funk laden groove, as pulsating stabs of sound fade cautiously away.

Music such as that contained within “Invenzioni” is not merely to be played in the background, as ambient music to accompany a supplementary activity. This music needs to be listened to alone, with full concentration, and with an imagination that is willing to let itself be led down some very beautiful, yet unexpected, avenues. The music contained within “Invenzioni”, not originally conceived as an album release, indicates how art can be fashioned from a variety of dissimilar situations, but is all the more appealing for it.

Steve Lawson – Invenzioni Website