Words by Alexandra Dominica
With a name like “The Blank Tapes” you’re hard pressed to know what to expect. However, the name belongs to perhaps one of the most exciting Californian bands in the psychedelic rock community. Far removed from their blushing summertime Superbloom EP, Look Into The Light comes gushing from a darker, ink-laden river of inspiration. The album features the rousing drums of Shaughnessy Starr of Frankie & The Witch Fingers with Hoover III and Jason Cirimele on bass (Guantanamo Baywatch and The Donkeys). On backing vocals Veronica Bianqui chimes and echoes her fine-vintage vocal chords in every song as well. The LP also features some live tracks from their “Jam In The Van” video series that were mixed with love in the studio. If that wasn’t enough, they also have four brand new songs to boot.
Headed by Matt Adams, something of a legendary figure in the psychedelic community, he’s toured across America, Europe and Japan while designing artwork, notably for The Grateful Dead, Chris Robinson and even his own band’s album covers and posters. Usually jamming out beachy, stonerfied and technicoloured tunes, The Blank Tapes showcase their ability to delve into both the lighter and the darker side of psychedelia – and we’re glad for it. Blank Tapes are a double edged sword and their ‘janus’ face peers emphatically in both directions, all with a characteristic wink and firm tongue in cheek.
Look into the Light begins colourfully and ends jet black with the listener in an epic monochrome bubblebath of winding basslines and unrelenting guitar licks. Its offhandedness and rhythmic shifts vibe gives a whimsical and effortless draw with its hybridising of 60s sonic energy with modern synergy, all despite Adams’ fairly limited lyrical contributions. Illustrating his impressive skill with a penchant for complex arrangements, he shows off his musical diversity and prowess throughout. Inspired by Cohen’s poeticism, Beck’s wry humour, Hendrix’s guitar playing and the legendary Velvet Underground – Adams embraces what he calls his ‘shredabilities’ and is constantly pushing himself to do better. As the Californian brainchild of this band, its performance history and unwavering presence in the music community stands as proof of their versatility, evolution and dedication to the field.
LITL stands as a great marker and homage to the genre, Adams clearly knows how to make his compound fusions of chords and harmonies sound uncontrived and unforced, topped with a flavour of zany humour. If any of you are looking for an entrance into the genre of psychedelia or simply a deliverance from the mundane, I advise you give this kaleidoscope of an LP a spin. I’ll say for certain, no two of Adams’ records are alike.
Look into the Light was released in 2019 on Nomad Eel Records
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