Known primarily as a result of rapper Lando Chill’s recent recordings, producer Andy "Lasso" C., now The Lasso, has released a ‘solo’ album. Here, the inverted commas are needed because The Sound of Lasso is comprised of work involving no less than thirteen musicians.
Raised in Michigan, The Lasso grew up with Motown in his ears. The famous label is known for a way of making music and for a representation of music making, just as much as it is known for the music itself. “Outside of being an enlivening, exciting sound, Motown made the process of recording/creating appear so fun and collaborative.” So much so that it occupied a space in the imagination of the young Andy Catlin much more than the other musicians he saw in photos.
As for jazz, it certainly counted for something in his musical stylings, even if its influence was indirect among many others. It’s no coincidence that the album’s description begins with allusions to John Coltrane: “Jazz has always been something to seek or strive towards…I’ve never had the dexterity, training, or dedication to the form to claim jazz in anyway. That being said, my music is often about evoking moods and place. My favorite jazz composers are Mingus, Sun Ra, and Alice Coltrane because their compositions take you somewhere outside of yourself; its less about virtuosity, than using their talents for aural exploration.”
It is in service of this kind of aural exploration that the The Sound of Lasso, in its own way, works towards. Listening to the record, the ambition to express atmospheres and places can be clearly heard. The “cold feeling of a Michigan forest in autumn” a climate discovered on the back of an arid Arizona landscape in which The Lasso spent a few years (his pseudonym draws influence from Ennio Morricone, the master of the Western), is the kind of atmosphere that is evoked. Except for a stint in Ohio, the album was recorded at various studios in the Great Lakes State. There is also a certain nostalgia, a concern for passing time and for the memory it prompts evoked in the fifteen titles that, while crossing different landscapes, form a continuous pattern.
If there is exploration, it also stems from the fact that this individual project proceeds from collective works, the album being based on contributions from thirteen others. The Lasso himself plays several instruments, from piano to drums and the guitar. It has been an experience that reaches back to his musical origins: “my musical life started with the clarinet in the school band, so I’ve always been rooted in the concept of ensemble performance.” This gives the record an assumed orchestral texture, which mixes sound sources to the point that they become indistinct: “I really wanted to connect my electronic productions with that feeling of a lot of instrumental voices creating a unified sound. If you listen across my discography, whether I’m playing all of the instruments myself, sampling, or working with a group of musicians, my sound always has a lush/large/orchestral tone to it. Large orchestrated textures are something you can fall into or live inside of.”
As a music lover who listens to classical music as well as to country and rap, the separation between machines and instruments doesn’t make sense to The Lasso. Hybridization provides the roadmap.
“To me, sampling is just another instrument; its just as hard to be good at sampling as it is to play an instrument. My music is always going to be a hybrid of electronic and acoustic, I love existing at that boundary because its where I can truly be myself. If anything this album has given me more knowledge and inspiration for how to specifically mix these universes together in a potent way … I’ve really only just begun.”
The Sound of Lasso marks a very important step in the continuation of the career of this self-described studio rat: “I’m a studio rat, that’s my lifestyle/culture. I’ve been recording everyday since I completed TSOL. I’m going to spend this year producing projects for a few different emcees/vocalists. All of the projects I’m working on have a distinct flavor that allow me to explore a variety of my musical interests: psychedelic funk, ethereal boom bap, experimental electronic music … “
The Lasso, The Sound of Lasso (Mello Music Group)