The Middle Sister

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Guy Blakeslee

The Middle Sister

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Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, psychedelic rock musician Guy Blakeslee began playing music in high school, and began touring with his first band, “The Convocation of…” as a teenager. Blakeslee eventually ventured out on his own, initially recording music as a solo artist by the name of Entrance, then teaming up with bassist Paz Lenchantin and drummer Derek James to form The Entrance Band—a psychedelic rock ensemble based in Los Angeles.

 

In addition to The Entrance Band, Blakeslee has been recording and touring as a solo artist. “The Middle Sister” is Blakeslee’s upcoming project—a fully instrumental 2-side LP set to be released in early 2016. On this “record through experimentation,” as Blakeslee calls it, he plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar, acoustic piano, Tibetan singing bowl, bells and chimes, percussion, drum kit, electric bass, Micro Korg synthesizer, Juno 60 synthesizer and tape-reel manipulation, and has Will Scott on the drum-kit. “The record evolved organically over a period of many months,” Blakeslee explains, which began after a set of “healing music” at a friend’s ritual event in Downtown LA. The performance inspired his friend Matthew McQueen, who operates Leaving Records, to propose a record featuring the sounds from that night.

 

Over the course of a few recording sessions Blakeslee worked with Jon Gilbert to combine all of the “disparate elements into a unified sonic experience.” In Blakeslee’s words, Side A is a “live improvised performance and is heard (sequentially) exactly as it was captured to tape,” while Side B is “a sound collage of multiple recording sessions and walls and waves of sound, brought into harmony through the magic of digital editing.” In short, “Side A captures a moment while Side B creates a new time and place by merging multiple times and places into a new moment. Noting Indian slide guitarist and raga composer Vishwa Mohan Bhatt as inspiration, along with American guitarists John Fahey and Sandy Bull, minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Terry Riley, and German groups like Can and Harmonia, Blakeslee also credits his meditation practice and the visual art of Amanda Charchian, which is featured on the cover, as influences for the album.

 

In addition to “The Middle Sister,” Blakeslee continues to work on a new group of songs with words, which he describes as much more challenging. “I have to employ many techniques to break outside the box of familiar phrases and uncover things that I wouldn’t expect to say,” he explains. “I’ve also been working on saying things that are difficult to express in words and cutting away extra words,” relying on “intuition over logic and feeling over reason.” For this next record, Blakeslee aims to “strip away all the un-needed layers of sound to get back to a pure uncluttered expression,” which has meant focusing on acoustic instruments and allowing his voice and guitar to exist in a simple space. He compares writing music to “going into a trance state and channeling from another place,” and emphasizes the importance of editing and refining “what is brought back from the beyond.” Blakeslee meditates that, often times “thinking can dilute or destroy the magic of the first intuition which is usually a message from a deeper or higher place.”

 

Photography: Brendan Burdzinski for NeueJournal
Creative Direction: Magic