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Josh Werner – Photo Credit: Bianca Casady
A place of fantasy, driven by fusion fueled by jazz, art pop and experimental elements is one that artists visit from time to time. At least this particular kind of mixture is rarely seen and totally memorable at once when encountered. Artists such as Japan, Michael Brook, David Sylvian and Brian Eno come to mind in terms of mastery of that particular zone, but there’s always room for more company. Enter Josh Werner – American bassist and experimental dream-weaver – who has announced he’ll be releasing his new album Mode For Titan in October.
Werner is also an active abstract painter, session musician, songwriter and producer who has made quite a name for himself working in a variety of styles, most notably in dub, experimental rock, hip hop and jazz.
Co-produced by legendary American bassist / producer Bill Laswell, this record is being issued via Laswell’s newest label M.O.D. Reloaded. Ahead of this, we have the pleasure to premiere the lead track – a balanced yet vivacious track ‘Traversal’.
And this first offering is simply fantastic – pulsating and infectious, setting the listener up to take flight in his imagination. If you turn it loud enough, you can feel the positive vibrations of this music run through your body, seemingly in perfect alignment with the universe.
The Mode for Titan LP demonstrates that, on its own, the bass is also a powerful melodic and ambient force, and without drums and the usual suspects, it becomes decidedly meditative. Written specifically on and for the instrument, this record dances between the worlds of songwriting, improvisation, movement and sonic texture.
Brian Eno, Michael Brook, Japan, William Basinski and Jaco Pastorious are all artists who can be described as Werner’s peers, as are Alice Coltrane, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Laraaji, King Tubby and Lee Perry. In fact, Josh Werner has collaborated with Perry previously.
The ultimate tool for a rhythm section, the bass discreetly leads the charge as the heartbeat and metronome. It is the spiritual glue which binds the harmonic and rhythmic worlds, the humble captain quietly steering the ship.
Laswell encouraged Werner to perform on different versions of the instrument, (sitar bass, upright bass, 7 string bass) and unleashed his sonic arsenal to create this low-end journey. While varied influences is heard on Werner’s compositions, the introspective creative focus guides. Simplicity, beauty and space are constant in this journey, and the rich colors of Laswell’s sonic translations are the compass.
Mode for Titan is a hybrid of improvised performances and meditative compositions, all rendered through Laswell’s darkly prismatic sonic eye. “Bill and I wanted to make an “all bass” statement, free from the usual suspects of the rhythm section, which could show range and depth of the instrument as a compositional and sonic tool,” says Josh Werner.
“Bill is a legend, so having him at the helm was an important part of the work, I have complete trust in his navigating skills, and though we are very different as players, he has deeply informed my taste and choices.”
Raised in Milwaukee, Josh Werner was a private student of Richard Davis. In 1996, he moved to New York and attended the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music program. His years of recording and performing with top-tier and cutting-edge artists has made an imprint on his identity and place in music history.
He is a founding member of the “Sci Fi Dub Noir” outfit Helio Parallax, experimental rock project Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band (with TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe), and has toured extensively with avant-garde folk duo CocoRosie. Along with Roots Tonic, he was an original member and co-writer for Matisyahu, including for the CIAA-certified gold records Live at Stubbs and Grammy-nominated Youth.
In addition to being a frequent collaborator of Bill Laswell via such projects as Method Of Defiance and Bass Invaders, Werner has worked with many other notable artists, including Lee “Scratch” Perry, Cibo Matto, James Brandon Lewis, Wu Tang Clan, Marc Ribot, Ghostface Killah, Vybz Kartel, Sly and Robbie, Nels Cline and Popcaan.
All songs written by Josh Werner
Engineered by James Dellatacoma
Recorded and mixed at Orange Studios
Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at TurtleTone Studio NYC
Design by Yoko Yamabe “at” randesign
MOD Reloaded: David Brunelle, Yoko Yamabe
Photography by Bianca Casady
Cover art by Josh Werner
Produced by Bill Laswell
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