The impalpable lightness of Blake Mills: Look, Verve, 2018 on #neuguitars #blog #BlakeMills
I will have listened to the beginning of this cd I don’t know how many times. There is no attack. Only the explosion of a supernova that has already begun, with a slow, progressive, inexorable decay. A spiral fall into the cosmic void, accompanied by the ascending song of invisible angels (or demons). A tension so impalpable that it itself becomes a texture. If there are guitars you don’t notice them, they have been transfigured, like any other possible instrument used here, no trace remains. “A small collection of vintage guitar synthesizers that Roland made at the end of the 1970’s.” Blake Mills writes inside the cd package. I believe him blindly, there is nothing else I can do, because my ears are also blind. I got lost in the map, perhaps because it never existed.
Sorry, I hit the ground running. Better to go by order. As I write these exalted notes, I am listening, for the umpteenth time, to Blake Mills cd “Look”, produced by Verve in 2018. I have been putting it on my cd player for about a year and listening to it. Each time I take notes, I try to understand why it fascinates me so much, I reflect, delete and rewrite; maybe now I’ve done it. I know some of you think I’m a music connoisseur. The truth is that I only follow the people I trust, with the result that I always listen to fantastic things. I did this again this time: about a year ago, Teho Teardo sent me the photo of this cd. “Very nice record – he wrote to me – which is not talked about enough”. He was right. “Underrated” write the Anglo-Saxons; “sootovalutato” we Italians reply. A pity, really, but maybe that’s right. “The music of Look was not created with the intention of ever being heard.”, Mills always writes. An album that was not supposed to be released? A music created for another purpose? The product of chance, of the game?
“In all honestly, Look is probably a good representation of whatever’s going on in subconscious of my musical tastes. I don’t know if you would call this through-composed, but the music all came from about a period of 45 minutes of just improvising in drop D on guitar synth.”*
“Look” is the soundtrack for a film that was never made. Something that emerged a posteriori, without an initial will. “Look” is the document, the documentary of an experience.
“I was in the studio for about a week, just experimenting with different guitar synths that I had acquired, and learning how to use them and what they could do in a studio context – running certain parts of the synth, like the bottom end of it out to one chain and then the polyphonic section into another and just playing, getting inspired by a sound that was happening and playing off of it.”*
Something very Japanese. “Mushotoku”, that is “the spirit of non-profit”. The final distillate of an exploration of sound, the harvest that is obtained when, after a job, you turn around and see the road traveled.
“Look” is an ambient record, which seems to want to ignore the conditions foreseen by its genre. It brings no consolation. It requires careful and detailed listening. It only lasts 25 minutes. It wants answers to questions it doesn’t ask. An album that starts from a technological past (fear of failure), of which it gets rid of, and from a future (attachment to the result), of which there is no need, to fully live an eternal present, in which to pay the utmost attention with every little gesture, savoring the taste of what you are doing. Just for the sake of making Art, like this, without purpose. Just for the sake of exploring, of seeing, of feeling if there is Something.
“All of the stuff on Look came from that… under an hour of messing around in D. Then when I went back and listened a few months later, it felt like there were these moments where there was like a melody or a passage that felt kind of interesting and beautiful. It just had an interesting pace to it.”*
“Look” is a circular cinematic music album that doesn’t express the slightest sense of frustration. It begins and ends on itself, because it is built on itself. Blake Mills is a great musician, just one album like this would be enough to change a career, vigorously directing it towards the production of soundtracks. “Look”, on the other hand, seems to have been just a moment of transition, a photograph, put into a “curricul vitae” that expresses the continuous desire for new experiences and a high degree of idiosyncrasy for respecting genre distinctions.
“I elaborated on those moments and kind of chopped stuff up so that it would encapsulate a certain idea and added stuff to it. The stuff on the record that has a beat was not music that was [originally] played to a beat. The beat sort of weaves through what had happened.”*
The result is exceptional. Thanks again to Teho Teardo. Follow the advice of those you trust.