“‘Circuitous’”; “Of a route or journey, longer than the most direct way,” recites Blessed’s singer and guitarist Drew Riekman. This sounds glib, but it’s also a description of a profound and rare way of creating that makes Circuitous, like all previous Blessed releases, a singular, moving, and unsettlingly committed piece of work. Circuitous cements and expands on Blessed’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 on musicality, songwriting, performance, and artistic growth.
Blessed has sharpened their strengths into their sophomore full-length Circuitous, bringing everchanging depth and expansion to their songcraft. The result is a sweeping, hyperreal, industrial art-rock tragedy, rendered in walls of noise, controlled drums, meandering ambiance, and staccato syncopation. Pulled from hours of jam material and hundreds of demos, Circuitous’s eight tracks sprawl and thrash and burst and fall, sometimes for nearly eight minutes – lyrically speaking to agoraphobia, isolation, grief, the hyper-control of capital and the numbness it breeds.
Of its lead single “Anything”, available today, Riekman unfolds, “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. 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.”
Blessed’s longtime collaborator, digital artist Nathan Donovan, paired up with Jacob Dutton, to art direct and design all original art and videos for the record, centering on a nameless, childlike robot that embodies very specific, subtle and uncanny expressions. The robot appears on the record’s cover and in the video for “Anything,” an expansive, mechanically-precise weave of eerie vocals, chiming guitars, bass throbs, and tense percussion.
Photo Courtesy: Heather Saitz