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Works in Progress Vol. 9

by Al Swainger's Pointless Beauty

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Amassing is a collection of improvisations with the same starting point. Because they're performed in real time the results can be strikingly different from each other as my mood shifts or the effects I'm using behave in surprising ways that cause me to react differently. This intention of willful ignorance is a key part of my enjoyment of the process!
Best digested on a number of separate occasions. The tracks often begin with a period of silence as they begin from the point that I hit record to reflect the live experience - do not adjust your set!
For an in depth nerd-out on my process read on :
Everything I make begins with improvisation. I usually do many takes and then, through a process of listening and reflection, subtract / transform / combine until I’m satisfied that further manipulations feel unnecessary. These stages can occur many times and in any order. There is no right or wrong to this process just emotional instinct. The publicly released results are usually a distilled ‘musical sculpture’ of many elements considered over time.
For this release I’ve issued the stages in their entirety, mainly to illustrate the process I go through, although on listening back I think each has merit individually.
I’ve been considering that I’d like to do an ambient piece that has a rhythmic element for some time. The problem with using an off the shelf-drum pattern is that it doesn’t evolve. Its static nature can give something to bounce off but not interact with. Using Ableton I started with two bass drum samples and a snare playing, I think, just 4 hits within a one bar period. From there I’ve fed that into a selection of delays and frequency filters that gradually change over time to give a sense of progression and motion. There’s room for this to become more complex but I’ll experiment with that on future tracks.
The harmonic element is just my electric bass through effects. I recently added a new five track looper to my equipment and this is the first time I’ve experimented with it on a recording. My approach has been to treat this in the same way that I would at a live gig. Track 1.01 is drums only, 1.02a – c drums with multiple bass loops, 1.03 drums with bass through delays and reverb but no loops and 1.04 is all the the takes overlaid just to see what that would sound like. Absolute chaos as you’d expect but with some nice moments! All tracks are ‘warts and all’ with no editing.


released January 3, 2024

Al Swainger - Bass soundscapes and drum programming


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Al Swainger Bristol, UK

Cinematic Fusion for the Emotionally Curious


Rich and eclectic atmospheres to help you daydream and stimulate your emotions.

Pointless Beauty is the contemporary project of bassist, digital artist, composer, producer Al Swainger.

Blending a wide range of influences improvised music, this is a very personal take on what jazz or progressive music could be.
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