Tag: Blessed

New Video: Blessed Shares Brooding “Redefine”

With the release of 2020’s self-released, full-length debut, the Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada-based art rock/post punk outfit Blessed — Drew Riekman, Reuben Houweling, Jake Holmes and Mitchell Trainor — received attention for crafting a self-assured, fully formed sound and aesthetic informed by their reverence for their small, rural city, located in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Last year’s iii EP saw the Abbotsford-based act further expanding upon their sound and approach: The EP’s material featured glitchy electronics, measured drum work and guitar work that frequently shifted from chiming and cheerful to serrated and snarling with a turn of a phrase, paired with Reikman’s tenor vocals. The EP continued the long-held ethos of collaboration and community that’s been at the center of their work. The self-produced EP was recorded at Vancouver-based Rain City Recorders with vocals tracked at friends’ houses across their hometown. They then recruited four different mixers for each EP’s song — Purity Ring’s Corin Roddick, Tortoise’s John McEntire, Holy Fuck‘s Graham Walsh and the band’s own Drew Riekman. 

Blessed’s Drew Riekman credits Fraser Valley’s previous generation of DIY artists with fostering a strong sense of local responsibility, pride and solidarity that the band aims to perpetuate and continue for younger generations. In fact, they do so by attending city council meetings, by booking all-ages shows with local acts and by sharing resources with younger artists leaning the ropes of recording, touring and grant application. 

iii‘s material as Riekman said at the time, reflected his own experiences and struggles with anxiety, which at its worse confined him to his home for months at a time. “I really struggled with agoraphobia when I was younger, and still do to this day,” Riekman said in press notes. Frequently, collaborating with members of their community helped create a “feeling of the world getting smaller” and served as a salve for anxiety and uncertainty. 

Blessed’s sophomore album Circuitous is slated for an October 28, 2022 release through Flemish Eye. “‘Circuitous: Of a route or journey, longer than the most direct way,” Blessed’s Drew Riekman recites. Interestingly enough, the word is a description of a profound and rare way of creating that makes their sophomore album, much like their previous releases, a singular, moving and unsettlingly committed piece of work. 

Circuitous reportedly will further cement and expand the band’s status as a band’s band: a patient, eclectic outfit guided by reverence for and an intense pursuit of an internally-dictated creative agenda focused on musicality, songwriting, performance and artistic growth. The album sonically sees them sharpening their strengths and bringing more depth and expansion into their creative process: The end result is a sweeping, industrial art-rock tragedy rooted in walls of noise, tightly controlled drums, meandering ambient and staccato syncopation that was pulled from hours of jam material and hundreds of demos. 

While the album’s eight tracks sprawl, thrash, burst and fall, the album’s material thematically touches upon agoraphobia, isolation, grief, the hyper control of capital and the numbness it breeds. 

Last month, I wrote about album single “Anything,” a slow-burning, hypnotic and brooding track featuring looping and shimmering guitars, bubbling electronics, thunderous drumming, and a propulsive and throbbing bass lines paired with Riekman’s plaintive vocals. But at its core, is a song that incisively ridicules modern life. 

“The narrative that you can be anything if you work hard enough is absurd. It ignores so many facets of life, development, geography, class, on and on et al,” Blessed’s Riekman says in press notes. “But it pits people against each other in an effort to become ‘something’, a ‘something’ that is loosely defined and shaped by personality rather than a communal vision. It creates a pedestal to put yourself or others on. You’re never good enough, because there’s always someone above you doing more. We’re reaching for unattainable lifestyles, that we don’t even need, that are hyper individualistic and negate the need for community. When you’re looking at the environment you exist in socially as a pyramid, and there’s people you want to be closer to “at the top”, that’s a net negative for anyone. The more accessible we are, and on the level with each other we are in our immediate places, the more we gain.”

“Redefine,” Circuitous‘ second and latest single is slow-burning and patient song centered around dexterous and shimmering acoustic guitar lines and jazz-like percussion paired with Riekman’s achingly plaintive delivery. While sonically “Redefine” may draw comparisons to OK Computer-era Radiohead., the song is rooted longing for much more than the banality of wake, sleep, eat, work until you die.

“The idea that we cannot disrupt the status quo only serves someone with power over us,” Blessed’s Riekman says of the new single’s thematic concerns. “It’s easy to feel that you’re never doing enough, that your mere existence in the face of crushing weights of the world isn’t an act of triumph in itself. We’re generally fed a narrative at this juncture that no one works hard enough, and your circumstances are your own fault exclusively. Being told that the only path forward is working 10 hour days, volunteering your labor to companies that make billions, and that you’ll one day be rewarded is a farce.” 

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with visual artists Nathan Donovan and Jacob Dutton, the artists and the band have begun to tease out a unique visual universe through a series of stills, images and video shorts.  The duo’s latest video for “Redefine” is the second part of an animated diptych that features the android protagonist of the AI-inspired video for “Anything” in the same claustrophobic maze of corridors and doors. But the video tells a different side of the story: This time, the story unfolds through the perspective of security cameras and computers in an eerily, nondescript office, complete with a coffee mug right in the corner, and some Post-It notes.

Brooding and uneasy suspense are created through long, lingering shots that capture the monotony and banality of modern life. Without being given a clue to whether the viewer is seeing from the perspective of another observer or if they’re a fly on the wall, the viewer is forced to contemplate their complicity and role in the story.  

New Video: British Columbia’s Blessed Share Tense and Eerie “Anything”

With the release of 2020’s self-released, full-length debut, the Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada-based art rock/post punk outfit Blessed — Drew Riekman, Reuben Houweling, Jake Holmes and Mitchell Trainor — received attention for crafting a self-assured, fully formed sound and aesthetic informed by their reverence to their community to their small, rural city, located in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Last year’s iii EP saw the Abbotsford-based act further expanding upon their sound and approach: The EP’s material featured glitchy electronics, measured drum work and guitar work that frequently shifted from chiming and cheerful to serrated and snarling with a turn of a phrase, paired with Reikman’s tenor vocals. The EP continued the long-held ethos of collaboration and community that’s been at the center of their work. The self-produced EP was recorded at Vancouver-based Rain City Recorders with vocals tracked at friends’ houses across their hometown. They then recruited four different mixers for each EP’s song — Purity Ring’s Corin Roddick, Tortoise’s John McEntire, Holy Fuck‘s Graham Walsh and the band’s own Drew Riekman.

Blessed’s Drew Riekman credits Fraser Valley’s previous generation of DIY artists with fostering a strong sense of local responsibility, pride and solidarity that the band aims to perpetuate and continue for younger generations. In fact, they do so by attending city council meetings, by booking all-ages shows with local acts and by sharing resources with younger artists leaning the ropes of recording, touring and grand application.

iii‘s material as Riekman said at the time, reflected his own experiences and struggles with anxiety, which at its worse has confined him to his home for months at a time. “I really struggled with agoraphobia when I was younger, and still do to this day,” Riekman said in press notes. Frequently, collaborating with members of their community helped create a “feeling of the world getting smaller” and served as a salve for anxiety and uncertainty. 

Blessed’s sophomore album Circuitous is slated for an October 28, 2022 release through Flemish Eye. “‘Circuitous: Of a route or journey, longer than the most direct way,” Blessed’s Drew Riekman recites. Interestingly enough, the word is a description of a profound and rare way of creating that makes their sophomore album, much like their previous releases, a singular, moving and unsettlingly committed piece of work.

Circuitous reportedly will further cement and expand the band’s status as a band’s band: a patient. eclectic outfit guided by reverence for and an intense pursuit of an internally-dictated creative agenda focused on musicality, songwriting, performance and artistic growth. The album sonically sees them sharpening their strengths and bringing more depth and expansion into their creative process: The end result is a sweeping, industrial art-rock tragedy rooted in walls of noise, tightly controlled drums, meandering ambient and staccato syncopation that was pulled from hours of jam material and hundreds of demos.

While the album’s eight tracks sprawl, thrash, burst and fall, the album’s material thematically touches upon agoraphobia, isolation, grief, the hyper control of capital and the numbness it breeds.

The album’s first single “Anything” is a slow-burning, hypnotic, and brooding track featuring looping and shimmering guitars, bubbling electronics, thunderous drumming, and a propulsive and throbbing bass lines paired with Riekman’s plaintive vocals. But at its core, is a song that incisively ridicules modern life.

“The narrative that you can be anything if you work hard enough is absurd. It ignores so many facets of life, development, geography, class, on and on et al,” Blessed’s Riekman says in press notes. “But it pits people against each other in an effort to become ‘something’, a ‘something’ that is loosely defined and shaped by personality rather than a communal vision. It creates a pedestal to put yourself or others on. You’re never good enough, because there’s always someone above you doing more. We’re reaching for unattainable lifestyles, that we don’t even need, that are hyper individualistic and negate the need for community. When you’re looking at the environment you exist in socially as a pyramid, and there’s people you want to be closer to “at the top”, that’s a net negative for anyone. The more accessible we are, and on the level with each other we are in our immediate places, the more we gain.”

Longtime collaborator and digital artist Nathan Donovan teamed up with Jacob Dutton to art direct and design original art and videos for the album’s songs, centered on a nameless, childlike robot that can make specific, subtle and uncanny expressions. The childlike robot appears on the album’s cover art — and in the accompanying video. Set in an eerie all white factory, the robot comes to life when its OS is inserted into a small disc drive behind its ear. The robot’s quickly seems to gain a sense of consciousness and self in a way that’s eerie, unsettling and all too childlike.

New Video: British Columbia’s Blessed Release a Tense and Anxious Visual for “Structure”

With the release of last year’s self-released full-length debut Salt, the rising Canadian art rock act Blessed — Drew Riekman, Reuben Houweling, Jake Holmes and Mitchell Trainor — received attention for arranging themselves around a fully formed and potent sound and aesthetic informed by a quiet reverence fro their community in Abbotsford, a small rural city in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

Slated for a February 19, 2021 release through Flemish Eye Records, Blessed’s forthcoming follow-up to Salt, iii is an EP that reportedly finds the act further expanding upon their sound and approach: cavernous post-punk electronics and measured drum work paired with guitar work that rapidly shifts from chiming and cheerful to serrated and snarling within a turn of a phrase, and Riekman’s tenor vocals adding an extra texture.

Interestingly, the EP also continues the long-held themes of collaboration and community that have defined their work. While the band self-produced the effort at Vancouver-based Rain City Recorders with vocals tracked at friends’ houses across their hometown, the band recruited four different mixers for each song of the EP — Purity Ring’s Corin Roddick, Tortoise’s John McEntire, Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh and the band’s own Drew Riekman. The band’s Drew Riekman credits Fraser Valley’s previous generation of DIY artists with fostering a senes of local responsibility and solidarity that the band aims to perpetuate. And they do so by attending city council meetings, by booking all-ages shows with local acts and by sharing resources with younger artists learning the ropes of recording, touring and grant application processes.

Much like the unique EP artwork, defeated by the band’s longtime friend, digital artist Nathan Levasseur, the EP’s material, as Riekman says reflects his own experiences and struggles with anxiety,. which at its worse has confined him to his home for months at a time. “I really struggled with agoraphobia when I was younger, and still do to this day,” he says in press notes. Frequently, collaborating with members of their community helped create a “feeling of the world getting smaller” and served as a salve for anxiety and uncertainty.

Centered around looping guitar arpeggios, a propulsive bass line, mathematically precise, metronome-like drumming, bubbling electronics, twinkling keys, Riekman’s lithe vocals, and some blistering solo work, iii’s latest single “Structure” evokes a tense and uncertain restraint before a seething coda to close things out. “’Structure’ deals with complacency and failing to explore the depths of your actions compared to the words you espouse and values you proclaim to have,” the members of Blessed explain. “If you can’t acknowledge your imperfection and flaws, you don’t leave room to listen and grow. If you’re always trying to teach, you can’t be taught.”

Directed by Kaayla Whachell, the recently released visual for “Structure” follows a depressed and anxious man as he attempts to steel himself to go out into the world. Driving to a nearby forest, our protagonist seems to have a psychotic break — and after he encounters three veiled women. who surround him and eye him judgmentally. But is it real? Or has been hallucinating?