The EP Transom is essentially surplus from Erik Blood's forthcoming album, Lost in Slow Motion. Erik Blood is a studio engineer, producer, and musician who can be considered the third member of two local hiphop groups: Shabazz Palaces (Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire) and THEESatisfaction (Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White). He also recently completed production work on Tacocat's new album, Lost Time. And in 2014, he was nominated for a Stranger Genius Award in music.
His new EP can be described as a very Northwest recording. The mood of the four tracks is akin to what the Seattle-based visual artist Matthew Offenbacher once described as "green gothic." What is this about? A feeling, a mood (indeed stimmung) that captures the region's monstrous aspect. The dusky quality of its sharply slanted light, its dark-green trees, its urban wilderness blending with the wilderness of the woods. All of these mixed natural and urban effects have made an impact on not only the visual arts but also Northwest cinema and a line of rappers that extends from Oldominion to Nacho Picasso.
Parts of Transom are ethereal, futuristic, muddy, raw, refined, catchy, and dissonant. As a whole, it combines the ambience of a dusky city street with that of a path through a dark-green forest. There is less eros in this work (Blood's last full length, Touch Screens, celebrated pornography), as it seems more concerned with the deep emotional roots of a close relationship. "Rachel," the EP's second and main track, is a somber character study. It's about a person (lover? Friend?) who has spent their life in a spiritual cave and never had the courage to step out into the open, into the sun. The tune will break your heart.
Late last week, I spent an hour or so walking around Vancouver, BC, listening to Transom, a word that Blood loves (it's a small window above a door or large window), and its sounds perfectly matched the sharply slanted light, the rain-soaked architecture, and the green vegetation I approached and passed. This is how the Northwest feels and sounds inside.