“Last night was actually the first time I took this new setup out.”
On the heels of a performance at Sullivan Hall the following night, Mark de Clive-Lowe brought his acclaimed “CHURCH” show to Bushwick, for a live performance and video/audio recording session at The Breeding Ground NYC.
As he was soundchecking for the show, de Clive-Lowe’s laptop suffered a small processing error and the timing was thrown off on the samples he was triggering. He went on to explain that he was testing a new setup out. Although there were a few hiccups the night before, he was pressing on and continuing to perform with the new setup, fine-tuning it along the way.
This could be regarded, perhaps, as a metaphor for his approach to music. de Clive-Lowe is willing to take chances, crafting his live show from a unique combination of both musical styles and musicians. This is precisely what makes his show spectacular: an infectious blend of jazz, jungle, house and breakbeats and an unorthodox group of players from varying backgrounds.The songs in his set are self-described “sketches.” There is no true guideline for how these songs progress. The vignettes are founded upon relatively simple motifs, but when paired with the boundless creativity that he and his musicians possess, they evolve into intricate soundscapes and grooves.
MdCL said it best in an earlier Revivalist interview: “Whoever is playing with me has to be willing to take that leap of faith and literally jump off the cliff with me… there is definitely a certain type of musician who is right for that.” MdCL was joined by bassist Mark Kelley (The Legendary Roots Crew), drummer Nate Smith (José James/Dave Holland), saxophonist Jaleel Shaw (Roy Haynes/Mingus Big Band), vocalist Nia Andrews (Common/Mary J. Blige/Lauryn Hill), and MC John Robinson (Scienz of Life).
While each musician brought their own sound to the table, the group as a whole gelled extremely well. Nia Andrews gracefully commanded the melodies of the tracks, and Robinson’s verses were on point. Jaleel Shaw was an absolute freak of nature, ripping over the changes while de Clive-Lowe added filters, delays, and other assorted effects with his samplers. Kelley and Smith locked like a glove, providing a strong backbone to the overlying ethereal layers of synths, percussion, and samples.
Another testament to de Clive-Lowe’s unconventionality is his gear setup. He combines acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes with a variety of both computer-based and hardware-based effects processors and samplers, achieving a perfect dynamic between analog and digital sound. All vocals and Shaw’s saxophone were routed into his setup, allowing him to add effects to their voices and instruments at will. He is one of many innovative artists that The Breeding Ground NYC has hosted. The venue/studio has worked with artists like Bilal, Erimaj, Snarky Puppy, and Igmar Thomas, and continues to host incredible live shows in an intimate setting. The new approach of doing recording sessions with a live in-studio audience is undeniably appealing, and provides the audience with a unique opportunity to see the artist’s entire creative process while recording.
Words by Cale Hawkins
More information on the studio and its events can be found on The Breeding Ground NYC Facebook page