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MUSE: Bassist Chris Wolstenholme | Progressive Rock Update With Brad Houser

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Meet Brad Houser –

MUSE. The biggest band that many Americans have never heard of. England and Europe certainly know these gents quite well. Just check out their tour schedule… including nine stadium dates here in the US in the fall of 09.

MUSE is a riotous mix of many, many influences, thoroughly postmodern and completely up to date. U2 meets Radiohead. Living Colour hanging out with Beethoven. Bach meets Metallica with Yes mediating…………. etc.

For this column I went to Waterloo Records in Austin and bought MUSE’s “HAARP” live CD and DVD set. The video and audio is from two shows at Wembley Arena, London, June 16-17 2007.Packed. Sold out. The entire crowd knows all the lyrics to all the songs. This band is well-loved and then some.

MUSE, comprised of Chris Wolstenholme on bass, Dominic Howard on drums, and Matthew Bellamy on vox, guitar, and piano, formed in 1994 in Teignmouth, Devon, UK. They have four studio albums to date, with a fifth, “The Resistance” due Sept. 14, 09.

Interestingly, Celine Dion had to back down when she planned to name her Las Vegas show “Muse”, because the band owns worldwide performing rights to the name. She offered $50,000 for the rights, but the band refused, with singer Bellamy stating that “we don’t want to turn up there with people thinking we were Celine Dion’s backing band.”

MUSE could certainly play well in Vegas. Their stage setup is epic in proportion, and totally sci-fi. There are four large satellite dishes flanking the stage, with other square antenna arrays spread across the actual stage. This undoubtedly references “HAARP”, the antenna array in Alaska, sponsored by the US Air Force, Navy, and the University of Alaska. HAARP, or “High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program”, has generated much controversy worldwide…….. Much! I leave it to the reader to do further research. HAARP is like science fiction brought to life………… Further enhancing the MUSE stage set is a giant LED video screen across the entire back of the stage, and a small city’s worth of stage lighting. All this is used to great dramatic effect throughout the show.

On the video, the camera work is crystal clear, although the editing is a little too quick cut/ ADD for my tastes, but, whatever. The audio is well mixed and the band performance is spot-on. These men play extremely well together.

On bass, Chris Wolstenholme is solid and inventive. Frequently rocking on an array of jazz basses, with a Rickenbacker for good measure, Wolstenholme often uses distortion, effectively thickening the group sound. At other times he employs an SVT type steely grind, yet at other times using a very brown, warm tone. This man knows how to serve the song. His chameleonic sound and style serve as a solid backbone for MUSE, and he intelligently employs his substantial bass chops when necessary. Part Steve Harris, part Flea, part Chris Squire, with a little Muzz Skillings and Geezer Butler thrown in for good measure. I doubt that Wolstenholme is thinking of any of this while playing. His work on the intro to “Newborn” is an excellent Bach-type workout, sounding like the left hand of a two-part invention. Well done.

Soaring above Wolstenholme’s solidity is the star of the show, Matthew Bellamy. Sounding often like a Bono/ Thom Yorke hybrid, Bellamy delivers an impassioned performance with complete abandon. This gentleman loses himself in the music 100%.

As a guitarist, he has it all, with Tom Morello, Van Halen, and Jimi Hendrix coming to mind. He also is an accomplished classical pianist, using a grand piano outfitted with a clear lid to great effect. Bravo! Also of interest is his Korg KAOSS pad equipped guitar. Bellamy uses it for the occasional ray gun blast during solos……….I want one! Genius.

Drummer Dominic Howard keeps things simple and solid on his end. Show your Gospel Chops -obsessed drummer friend some footage of Mr. Howard for a quick lesson in minimalism and How To Serve The Song. Perfect.

The sci-fi theme/ mad mix of elements continues throughout the show. Track 2, “Knights of Cydonia” sounds like Iron Maiden playing the theme from Star Trek. It seems as if MUSE is at the lighter end of a continuum that has The Mars Volta at the darker end.

Both bands have that interesting combination of science fiction and……. outrage. Much of MUSE’s subject matter is non-specifically political…………”empowerment rock”, as I like to think of it. I am reminded of U2, also. MUSE has a similar feeling of triumph in their music and performance.

On YouTube there are a few excerpts of these over-the-top Wembley shows. Check these gents out, and witness the power of the Epic.

Thank you for supporting Bass Musician Magazine and this column… BH

Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

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Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

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Bass CDs

Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Mark Egan, Cross Currents…

It is exciting every time I get a new album from Mark Egan as he is such an amazingly versatile player and I never know what to expect (except for excellent artistry!) In his latest release, Mark has teamed up with Shawn Peyton on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar to bring us “Cross Currents”.

This collection of eleven tracks transports me to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans specifically). Mark’s fretless basses lay down a solid groove and lots of juicy solo work for this rootsy collection of funk, ambient, swamp-rock, second line, ballads, Cajun and even Indian Raga.

This trio is super-tight and the musicianship is flawless as each member has ample opportunity to shine. Even though each player is very talented in their own right, I feel that the collective energy is greater than just the sum of the players on this album. Each musician contributed to composing music for this project but the lion’s share are Mark’s original pieces.

I spent the summer of 1981 in New Orleans and this wonderful music takes me back to those fond memories. I participated in a wacky raft race on Lake Ponchatrain and this opening track elicits images of fun, sunshine, music, and great food.

This is another superb album that everyone will enjoy. Get your copy today! Cross Currents is available online at Amazon.com. Visit Mark online at markegan.com.

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @cb_basses @alesvychodilbasses @odiengcustom @ramabass.ok @mauriziouberbasses @mgbassguitars @capursoguitars @thebassplace @adamovicbasses @ishguitars

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Bass CDs

New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album

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New Project: NEMESIS CALL Announce "Kingdom of Shred" Album

ALBERTO RIGONI’s New Project NEMESIS CALL Announce “Kingdom of Shred” Album, Feat. Super Talented Guests Such as Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner + Many Others

Worldwide known Italian bassist and composer ALBERTO RIGONI (soloist, BAD As, Kim Bingham, Vivaldi Metal Project, etc.) announces the new album “Kingdom of Shred” of his new project NEMESIS CALL. 

Alberto says: 
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, was released on June 4th 2024, I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental shred/prog/rock/metal/melodic album, that will feature many talented top-notch musicians such as drummer Mike Terrana, Alexandra Zerner, Alexandra Lioness, Aanika Pai (11 years old!), Keiji by Zero (19 years old!), SAKI and many others TBA/TBC). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025 or maybe for Christmas!.”

As an independent artist, Alberto Rigoni has launched a fundraising campaign to support the project. Support at www.albertorigoni.net/nemesiscall. 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro (www.legadelfilodoro.it/it), an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Visit online at www.albertorigoni.net | albertorigoni.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/albertorigonimusic | www.badas.rocks

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