Union Transfer




Guy Blakeslee

Thu, October 9, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA


This event is all ages

The most important element of Warpaint’s second, self-titled album is space. The hauntingly lovely sounds that comprise its 12 songs are punctuated by a distinct absence of sound, one that elevates the band’s music to a new place of depth and emotional poignancy. For the Los Angeles rock band crafting a second album offered an opportunity to expand the ethereal, hypnotic songs on their 2010 debut The Fool and to mirror their extensive live experience on a recording while allowing for the inclusion of more room.

The group, formed in 2004 by Kokal, Wayman and Lindberg, toured on The Fool for two and half years, solidifying the bond between the musicians over the course of numerous performances around the world. The new album represents Mozgawa’s first full collaboration with Warpaint since she jointed shortly before the band recorded The Fool in late 2009, something that augmented the experience this time for everyone involved. The initial work on Warpaint began at a house in Joshua Tree in March of 2012, where the four musicians decamped to write and demo early ideas for the new songs. There was no immediate vision or goal, instead the band wanted to create a meditative place in which to channel inspiration.

“We could come from any direction we wanted,” Kokal says. “Here we’d been playing the same songs over and over again on tour and being in Joshua Tree it was like a dam was released and all this water started flowing out. Recording and writing this album, we really started to play and interact with each other in a new kind of way. It was the natural next level of getting to know each other and discover our album. I think the element of space became kind of a band member, and we were very conscious of not trying to fill in every silent moment anymore.”

The musicians spent a month in Joshua Tree before returning to Los Angeles, where they continued to write and demo before going into the studio with Flood in January of 2013. The producer, the only person on the band’s producer wishlist, joined the group at Five Star Studios in Echo Park for six weeks. The band was drawn to Flood’s ability to balance the lo-fi aesthetic of a raw demo with hi-fi production, a sensibility they hoped to embrace when recording the new tracks. In fact, several of the demo pieces made their way onto the final tracks on Warpaint.

“I could hear in Flood’s work with PJ Harvey that he was comfortable with having a demo-type feeling to the music sometimes but able to translate that on to a greater level of professional sound,” Wayman says. “He’s got so much experience under his belt and he’s really talented at creating things, making them sound big and luscious. We used a lot of mood-enhancing atmospheric stuff, like synths and electronic drums. We all love hip-hop and trip-hop, which is really mood and rhythm based. That influenced us here.”

“We wanted to make a sexy record,” Lindberg adds. “Something a little more minimal than The Fool. We had so much to express – and still do – but have learned the magic of less is more and truly went in with that frame of mind. We were more mindful and wanted to make room for one another.”

The resulting album, self-titled because this it the truest expression of Warpaint to date, is vast and beautiful, collecting lush, compelling songs that embody otherworldly tones and hushed pauses. There is a hazy sense of abstraction that pervades, leaving each song lingering as the next begins. “Hi,” which Kokal calls “a really beautiful and dark twist to a very conventional songwriting structure,” shimmers with sparse emotional verve while “Keep It Healthy” explores a meditative groove. “Love Is To Die,” a number that emerged almost directly from a jam session, balances soaring melodies with ambient beats. The album finds all four musicians playing in tandem, and indeed much of the album was recorded live in the studio. It merges disparate influences and sensibilities while eventually landing on a cohesive – and unexpected – thematic thread.

“Without sounding trite, the subliminal theme of the album is love,” Mozgawa says. “It's a record that meditates on different forms of love in a poetic manner. This wasn't a preconceived theme – it's just one powerful prevalent thread.”

The musicians have found a cohesion between this new album, The Fool and their 2009 EP Exquisite Corpse, a sort of evolving symbiosis that always comes back to the strong connection between the four players. The album art, created by Chris Cunningham, reflects the collaborative strength and inherent friendship heard in the songs. Cunningham, who is married to Lindberg, is presently working on a multimedia documentary about the group, which he started while the band was in Joshua Tree last year.

“We came up with the idea of making a long short film, a mixture of the kinks and quirks of Warpaint and his kinky and quirky brain and ideas,” Lindberg says. “It is going to be a medley of things. Chris is such a mindful and respectful guy. It's been so wonderful to have someone with such impeccable taste and an endless amount of creativity witness all stages of this record.”

Ultimately Warpaint reveals the next stage of evolution for the group, a truly collaborative effort that showcases both musical growth and a startling depth of friendship. “We thought about this collection of songs like, this is us,” Wayman says. “This is an expression of who we are.”
Guy Blakeslee
Guy Blakeslee
Guy Blakeslee (The Entrance Band) delivers his first solo album in ten years. Produced by Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah, Yeah Yeahs), Ophelia Slowly, takes a step back from the dense rock sound his LA-based neo-psychedelic trio is known for, delving instead into a sparse, spooky dreamscape where drum loops, synthesizers, and the occasional acoustic guitar frame his always haunting vocal delivery.

Recorded in New York in the fall of 2013, the album focuses on Blakeslee’s recent descent; wrestling with demons and angels alike, he has come through it victoriously, expressing the hopeful message of a modern day spiritual. If this album conveys a type of conversion, Blakeslee doesn’t want you to forget his appreciation for tragedy; the title itself is a reference to Shakespeare’s Hamlet heroine.

Recording under his own name for the first time, Blakeslee seems to hint that the intention for this project is intimate and vulnerable, and as anyone who has caught his recent solo dates opening for Spiritualized or Cat Power will attest, he delivers on that promise. Blakeslee has always been a re-interpreter of early American Delta blues. On Ophelia Slowly, his love for the genre is felt not only in his upside down, left-handed electric guitar playing, but also in his soulful howl: needing no accompaniment at all, it’s as comfortable in an Echo Park nightclub as it would a 1920’s Mississippi street corner.

“In a way, the words and the vocal performance are the focus of this record,” explains Blakeslee. “The music is there to create a mood for the voice to exist in. It’s the first time there’s not a lot of effects on my vocals, there’s a little reverb, but it doesn’t sound far away. In the past I was covering up my voice, turning it down and drowning it out.” Allowing his vocals to appear front and center, as opposed to his impressive guitar playing, seems to be a decision inspired, in part, by Chris Coady, who not only recorded Blakeslee’s last solo album, Wandering Stranger (Fat Possum), but was the first person to record him at all. The two grew-up together in Baltimore and seem to share an unspoken communication, having collaborated on music together since high school. “[Coady] came to see me play in New York last April and said, ‘I had chills the whole time you were playing.’ He was emotionally connected to the project in a way that I couldn’t find in anyone else,” explains Blakeslee. “It’s great to go back and work with an old friend. His work gets increasingly better every time,” says Coady.

Ophelia Slowly was recorded almost entirely at Coady’s studio in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a neighborhood that informed these eight songs as much as anything else. During the first part of the production, Blakeslee was sleeping in the studio and at night he would walk around Tompkins Square Park and the surrounding neighborhood, listening to the day’s recordings and finishing up lyrics in his head. The opening number, “Haunted City,” written originally about Los Angeles, explores the idea of returning to one’s old stomping grounds, but no longer feeling as if you belong, which hits close to home for Blakeslee — “I used to live in NY and I haven’t spent more then a couple days there in many years. So there’s ghosts of things that happened in the past in that area.” In fact, Ophelia Slowly is bookended with songs that examine cities and the idea of home. The slightly more optimistic closer, “City in the Rain,” speaks to resolution and as Blakeslee explains, “getting back on the journey where it all began.” “I took the final mix of “City in the Rain” to the park in the morning,” says Blakeslee, who has an eye for serendipity and a love for the notion of transcendence. “It began raining just as the rain sound [that appears as an intro to the song] came through my headphones.” Blakeslee’s 2003 version of Skip James’s “I’m So Glad” is currently heard in the soundtrack for Spike Jonze’s Academy Award nominated film ‘Her,’ appearing as the infectious song Scarlett Johansson’s O.S voice/character shares with Joaquin Phoenix, confessing she can’t stop listening to it.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123