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Wise Blood

January 8, 2011

Wise Blood – `+` [18th May 2010]

Today I bring you another of my bandcamp favourites (after last month’s Soft Powers): Pittsburgh’s psych-electro-pop newcomer, Wise Blood. The sound of this one man mashup maestro instantly brings to mind the likes of Panda Bear and The Avalanches with its distant vocals, looping samples and fuzzy guitar, and it may well not be to everyone’s taste.. just look at that album cover! What is it?! But, you should let the music do the talking. I was hooked as soon as I heard the mashed up version of “Here Comes The Sun”:

Wise Blood – Here Comes The Sun

Wise Blood is Christopher Laufman, who takes his name from a novel-come-film by Flannery O’Connor. Laufman also takes the moniker of the book’s protagonist, Hazel Motes, so I shall refer to him as such. The novel deals with an individual’s struggle to understand Christianity, who chooses to violently deny it. However, he is somehow identified as a new-age preacher against his wishes, and goes around saving people from the salvation of Christ. It is explained that some people have “wise blood”: that the blood knows even if the mind does not. But this is beside the point.

Motes’ music doesn’t really reflect his Christian background. It’s the casual ambi-dub beats delivered with an up tempo electricity that draw attention. His music (available as part of a 5-track EP titled  `+`, with the odd looking cover you see above) is a collage of samples where the only original sound is his voice (with the exception of “Here Comes The Sun” where it’s.. well, the Beatles), but boy can he manipulate a sample.

Motes seemingly forgets where the samples are from, and how they should be used, uprooting them from their original genre and seeing them in a whole different context. “Big Ego”  features the drumbeat from Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levy Breaks” – a beat sampled many a time but usually in an adrenaline soaked (see Beastie Boys – Rhymin & Stealin or Eminem – Kim), not in the laid back manner Wise Blood has so carefully crafted.

“Big Ego” is a good way to describe Wise Blood – in his few interviews he comes across as an egotistical musician who thinks his music is able to take over the pop market. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to think your music is great, but in his later releases, such as the somewhat introverted “Loud Mouths” and his latest single release, “Solo ‘4’ Claire” (see the soundcloud playlist above), we see the direction Motes wants to take – and it definitely doesn’t seem to be pop.

Now, you may say that this music is just plain weird, and you’d probably be right.. the psychedelic video for the upbeat “STRT SRNS” proves that. The odds are not good that these seemingly pandemonious remixes would ever top the charts. But I find some order amongst the turmoil, and some meaning to the odd choice of samples repeatedly dubbed over each other in the songs. The thing I like about Animal Collective is how they are able to draw together a beat and rhythm from what at first seems like chaos (don’t know Animal Collective? Shame on you! See Peacebone for an example of what I’m talking about, or My Girls for a hit single), and I feel that Wise Blood appeals to me in the same way.

I find myself attracted to the idea of bandcamp: it allows independent musicians to set up their own webpage, with the option to sell or give away their music. I’m not entirely sure why this appeals to me over the likes of myspace, which offers a similar service – perhaps it is just the alluring indie-ness of bandcamp, or maybe bandcamp really does have something more to offer, I’m not sure. Regardless, it provides a great platform for artists like this to promote their music.

I urge you to check Wise Blood out on bandcamp, or myspace, or indeed simply broaden your own horizons with a casual surf around bandcamp to see what’s cookin’.

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