Free-improvisation is how California Lutheran University students Christophe Bassett and Bradley Pate describe their debut album for their band Queens of Shiva.
Bassett, a senior communication major and Pate, a senior math major recorded their songs on campus using a cellphone.
Bassett described their musicianship as “two players reacting to each almost having a conversation between instruments.”
Both Bassett and Pate are multi-instrumentalists and showcase that in their songs. Bassett plays the saxophone, prepared piano, standard piano, clarinet and percussions in the band’s songs. Pate also plays prepared piano, percussion, the trumpet and guitar.
Though this is the debut album for Queens of Shiva, Bassett has released numerous albums with his other bands and projects on bandcamp.com which is a medium for artists to upload music and make it accessible to others.
“I’ve released nine albums as Jesus the Carpenter, eight albums as Wolves in Sheepskin, one for Sober Drunks and the Queens of Shiva debut is coming out,” Bassett said.
Bassett said the inspiration for this album came from John Coltrane, John Cage, John Zorn, Cecil Taylor and Miles Davis as well as European free-jazz, like Peter Brötzmann and Alexander Schlippenbach.”
“I think it’s a big step for him. I really love the album and I think he’s going to make many more really great albums,” Stryder Rymer, a current band member in Wolves in Sheepskin with Bassett said.
“He’s going more to acoustic, traditional free-jazz but really trying to push the limit to bring it to a very modern, more extreme version of free-jazz,” Rymer said.
Jesse Hu, a computer science major, joined the Queens of Shiva on one of their tracks, under his stage name, Chinese Man in the Sky.
“[Hu’s] perspective was entirely fresh and I think that’s a great thing for us given that we’re trying out new music. We’re trying out new methods, just trying to do the avant-garde, the experimental,” Bassett said.
Hu, who taught himself to play the drums a year ago, became part of the project on a whim. Hu said they asked him if he wanted to play with them one day after hanging out and he had a great experience.
“I do think there is something cool about freestyling for the entire hour and then recording that entire thing like ‘yeah that’s the thing that we made,’ like that’s how we felt,” Hu said.
“Improvisation is where most of the magic happens, I mean you can make music that you’ve improvised that you would never be able to compose in a million years because that dialogue doesn’t exist and sometimes the accidents are the best part of the music,” Bassett said.
Hu said the music isn’t for everyone, but he said he hopes people will give it a chance.
“It’s going to be weird at first. It’s going to be like watching an art film for the first time,” Bassett said. “It’s kind of a melodic representation of emotion.”
Rymer said he has seen a lot of musical growth in Bassett and said he is looking forward to being able to work on another album for Wolves in Sheepskin.
“I’m really looking forward to his next musical piece and I love listening to his music,” Rymer said.
None of these men are music majors, but they have come together to express themselves the best way they know how. Bassett said it is a name your price album.
“If you want to get it for free, by all means get it for free. If you want to pay us for it because you love us as much as you should, go ahead and pay for it,” Bassett said.
All of Bassett’s albums from his numerous bands and projects can be found on bandcamp.com. As for the Queens of Shiva debut album, it is available for download at QueensofShiva.bandcamp.
Published September 30th, 2015