By Graeme Wiggins
VANCOUVER – Sometimes change comes when you least expect it. It was six years between The Blow’s album Paper Television and their next self-titled record. In between, collaborator Jona Bechtolt left to work on his YACHT project and Melissa Dyne joined singer Khaela Maricich in the band. Surprisingly, The Blow seemed like a continuation of their previous sound, not branching far out in terms of style from what they had been doing previously. With their new album, Brand New Abyss, however, Maricich and Dyne have taken a new artistic turn, delving into a more quiet, electro-acoustic based sound.
The evolution of the sound came from the experience of touring The Blow. As Dyne explains, “with the last record it was sample based so that was how we performed it. For me, because I was in control of the samples there was an end to that algorithm. You couldn’t go that far off of the track. You couldn’t really jam.” This lead to moving away from sample based composition, and the development of a new rig that suited their performance sensibilities. She continues, “It turned into this game of how do we like to play? Khaela likes to play differently than I like to play. We each started developing, through analog electronic equipment (and some digital) into a way we could be more playful and have a good time and we started writing that way.”
This new set up changed not only the sound, but the feeling of the record. Maricich describes it: “The way I feel about it is that it’s really tender. Really tender and vulnerable. It’s interesting, releasing this record and having people say “wow it doesn’t have a lot of beats” or “It’s not really a dance record.” What they’ve played live has brought on a bit of a mixed reaction. People have pretty set expectations about bands they like. Maricich doesn’t feel beholden to the expectations, enjoying the freedom that the new manner of performing brings, as well as an understanding that the world is a lot different than it was when they were recording their last record. It’s only natural for the music to have changed as well. “And it was really cool because we were like a ship on the rocky ocean just doing the thing we’re doing. We’re going to sail through your expectations because this is a thing that feels super alive to us right now. The world feels pretty different than it did the last time we made a record. It’s less bouncy and jubilant. It feels like maybe we’re just going to grab onto our feeling and hold on really tight and just follow our most tender urge. It’s time to be really present and tender.”
The clash of expectations and reality has the potential to be off-putting, but it also brings with it the possibility of something greater. As Maricich recalls, “we played a show in Detroit and this girl came up and said ‘I thought I wasn’t going to feel it as much, that it would be too different but it gave me more feels it gave me all of the feels.’ That’s the best complement.” While The Blow’s Vancouver show might not be what you expect, it will definitely be something special and tender.
The Blow perform October 27 at the Fox Cabaretelectro-acoustic, synth-pop, The Blow