We break down Gordon's bass work on one of the standout tracks from his new album
Mike Gordon’s basses are at the core of Flying Games — locked and steady when his characters are disoriented, melodic and exploratory when the music seeks to break free from convention. Perhaps no track is more bass-minded than “Connected,” Gordon’s ode to the human bond, whose verses feature a vocal and bass dialogue. Mike played his 1999 Gibson Thunderbird IV Reissue with a pick (he used a pick for the entire record), and favored the neck pickup.
The track begins with an eight-bar intro that will return as the chorus bass line. Of note is the way Gordon lays off the downbeat every second measure (bars 2, 4, 6, and 8), and his judicious use of short tones. Letter A is the first verse — actually a double verse at 16 measures — and it begins the vocal and bass conversation. Mike leaves plenty of space for his sung phrases, and he answers with his bass in a funky, flowing way — the most interesting and linear passage ends the section, in bar 24. He offers, “I would play the licks spontaneously, and then Jared and I would decide if they worked or if I needed to play them a little differently or try something else, entirely. I like that I played a lot of roots and 5ths here, because when I introduce a color tone, like a 3rd or a 7th, it has that much more meaning.”
Letter B is the first chorus, mirroring the intro bass line. Letter C is the second verse, this time only eight bars long. Still, Gordon steps up the creativity in his answers to his vocal, using chromaticism in bar 34 and unleashing torrid bluesy riffs in bars 38–40. Dig the way he bounces off the lower A at the end of bar 39 into 40. Letter D is the second chorus; it leads to the bridge at E, which has an open sound that nicely contrasts the previous syncopated sections. Finally, letter F is the extended chorus outro, giving Gordon the opportunity to stretch in this section. He does so with neck-spanning slides in bar 58 and a cool A pentatonic lick in 60. Most ear-grabbing of all is his fill in bar 72, due to his starting with a G dominant lick, even though the tonality is A. For the last nine measures, Gordon returns to the groove, leaving space as the song winds down (save for the nice pentatonic climb in the closing A). Mike advises, “The bass line sits in the pocket, but it also pushes the song along. Play through the part for inspiration, and then come up with your own fills.”
Download the complete transcription PDF: HERE