Track By Track: Blond:Ish – Welcome To The Present
Blond:ish have stepped into the world of LP releases as Welcome To The Present has become a rather brilliant new addition to the aural world. With what has been described as a "vibrant, colourful mix of electronic moods, field recordings, traditional instruments and polyglot vocals", the pair have come up with a full-length release that's sure to please your ears. We've been enjoying the album so much that we wanted to find out more so, naturally, we asked Blond:ish to talk us through it one track at a time;
VIV: I started this track when we first moved to Barcelona and discovered the weed coffee shops. We ended up finishing it off in Tulum when we were at breakfast and randomly met a family of 5 super blonde Germans who travelled and played music, so we jammed with them and sang mantras all morning then added some of that ambience into this track. We came up with a few names for the track, but it wasn’t until we were India in the jungle behind a sweetwater lake, under a Banyan tree where the Beatles also spent their time, that we met one of the most intriguing people in our lives – we called him Jungle boy. He taught us a lot that day, including when he showed us a little plant in the jungle that moves it’s little leaves. If you touch this plant it becomes like a super shy creature and retracts its leaves, then the leaves slowly unfold and become unshy again. This amazing plant was called Shy Grass, so the title was very fitting for us.
ANSTASCIA: This song was made initially in about less than an hour as a short segway to cohesively join Shy Grass and Lucy's Affair but ended up becoming a song of its own. The message of the song is definitely engraved into the Spanish vocals that are essentially a big part of our current consciousness.
LUCY'S AFFAIR (album version)
ANSTASCIA: Our affair with Lucy started in 2012 as it was part of our first EP with Kompakt, so it's very special to us. We decided to give it a 2015 album facelift and bring it back to life in a much slower more sensual version with a bit of exfoliation. This song really encompasses the feeling we get when we’re lying on the beach drinking coconuts. Smooth trippy psychedelic-ish guitars… We were uber excited to rework this for the album and very happy with the way it turned out. Random fact: the voices that sound like ba bah ba ba are actually a guitar.
ENDLESS GAMES (album version)
ANSTASCIA: This is the album version of our single – a more slow and intimate version of this record. We really wanted to highlight the incredible vocals, sung by Corey, and give it more of a sunset // sunrise vibe. Initially, the backing track was made for a guy that we met on the beach in Tulum. We were at our friend's hotel, and we smelled this incredible smell. Then we saw a young guy baking bread and singing. We were instantly drawn to this amazing voice and the smell of the fresh coconut bread.
When we approached him (as we were manifesting a vocalist for this song) and asked him if he was a singer, he said that he only sings to his bread. This took us by surprise but was really touching and original. He never got to go into our makeshift studio and record with us, but hopefully sometime soon in the near future.
VIV: This is the track on the album that I am attached to the most. It's the point in the album where the intro is meant to be hypnotic and loopy so that you can have a second to digest the first 4 tracks on the album. A kind of “space between the notes” as we say. Then the break involves a swirl of water coming around the sonic space that is really engulfing in stereo. As soon the track brings you underwater, a beautiful but eerie santoor comes in to bring it all together. The santoor is performed by Bahramji, who we met last year at a tantra festival performing in a sound meditation. The ironic thing was that Anstascia and I both couldn’t meditate because the music was so incredible we had to open our eyes to see who was singing with such purity and playing those mesmerising Eastern instruments. It is such a blessing to have Bahramji as part of our album.
ANSTASCIA: When we were travelling through South America, we were recording some local artists that we met along the way, and it brought us through moon valley – a breathtaking range of eroded tall and spiky mountains near La Paz. The track is a reminiscence of our journey and all the beauty and new friendships that we experienced along the way. It’s one of the more danceable tracks on the album that has a child vocal to keep it inviting and quirky. Definitely one of our faves on the record.
VELVET WAVE (album version)
ANSTASCIA: This is also another song from one of our previous EPs on Kompakt that we really wanted to revisit at another tempo, and to try from a different perspective. The original climbing organ lines were written in a studio session after we saw a ‘Doors’ documentary, and got inspired by Ray Manzarek jamming like a champ on his vox continental. This record encompasses everything we love about the '60s and '70s especially the Malibu surfer boy panned vocals.
ANSTASCIA: This is another track we collabed with Bahramji where he fully highlights the power of his incredible voice. It’s also kind of dancey in our opinion. It suited this second half of the album. Myein translates as an ancient Greek verb meaning 'to close the eyes or mouth'. We translate this as 'an inner silent journey within' which perfectly describes what we went through in this album making process, and are still going through. It’s all been such an amazing process.
JUPITER & JAGUAR
VIV: I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that we spent a lot of time in the jungle with a lot of drums and crickets, and that we were living with an array of wild animals (as you can hear). We were living in their original land after all. This is a track simply getting your lost in the jungle vibes on. We love hypnotic drums and it came out quite dark to suit the late night Tulum atmosphere when walking home on the street or the beach, where the only light on the street was from the natural light of the moon. It’s creepy goodness. Many of the sounds in this record (and others) were recorded during the span of a few sound meditation ceremonies, where our friends Jupiter and Jaguar (Balam in mayan) performed. They are two exceptionally talented brothers that make their own instruments (drums and rain calling sticks etc…).
VIV: This was another case of tulum serendipity. We’ve had a lot of these on the album. We decided that instead of actively seeking out musicians to work with on the album, that we would just let it happen organically and completely trust the process. One evening we were at a 94bpm rave during sunset on the beach and heard this haunting voice on the speakers. I didn't know what the track was but I could recognise the underbeat as luciano’s bomberos… I had to know what edit it was, but as we approached the booth, we saw an intriguing soul improv singing along on a microphone. He introduced himself as Sunru, and he came over the next day to jam with us. This is the result. Very profound vocals if you’re paying attention.
IT STARTS NOW
VIV: The voice on the track is from a talk we heard when we received a folder of indigenous tracks and talks on quantum physics from a friend. Alan Watt’s speech was very moving and it instantly struck a chord inside. An incredibly knowledgeable philosopher who persistently made his points using alchemy. His mission was to bring Eastern practices and philosophies to the West in a way people could understand them in simpler terms. We threw it on top of a beat we had started, and put a few chords down and it all felt very natural the way it flowed, so we messaged our managers to tell them about the situation and if by chance they could get in touch with this famous philosopher’s people (he is deceased). We obviously thought we had no chance at all to even get in touch with him, so didn’t expect anything back that was anything more than a “sorry not possible” but one of the best pieces of advice we’ve got was “if you don't ask, you don’t get”, so we took our chances. Our manager actually responded to the email straight away and said, “Oh, well my dad takes care of the late Alan Watts estate through his son. let me write him.” They were in touch and the rest is history. For us, this piece is the conclusion to the album, but also a personal gateway opening to much more afterwards.
Welcome To The Present is out now via Kompakt – grab your copy here.