Chicago-based Warr guitarist Jason Blake has completed work on his latest solo outing, “Imaginary Cages.” You can listen exclusively on our webzine the entire album through the Bandcamp player below:
The Warr Guitar is a twelve-string instrument incorporating the range of a guitar and bass. It is played by tapping the strings; a technique known as touchstyle guitar. When his primary band, Instrumental/Progressive Metal trio Aziola Cry, returned from a fourteen-year hiatus with the Sensory Records release of their blazing “The Ironic Divide” last year, Jason Blake’s performance on the record was noticed and praised by critics and fans abroad. Within the group, he writes music featuring the rhythmic and melodic capabilities of the Warr Guitar in a band setting.
However, with his solo work, Jason Blake pushes the boundaries of the instrument while incorporating elements of Progressive Rock, Ambient, and Classical. Signed to Olympia, Washington-based Wayfarer Records, he released his first album for the label in June of 2021. Called, “an aural feast of different sounds,” by Sea of Tranquility, the album “Fictional Mirrors” was the first album of a planned Progressive Ambient trilogy titled “The Ternary Instinct.” While the other installments of that series are being formulated, Blake now returns with “Imaginary Cages.”
A six-song Progressive Rock suite of solo Warr guitar, “Imaginary Cages” features some of Blake‘s most complicated work to date, boasting technical prowess in a bold but subdued setting. With delicate and tranquil chorus-drenched ambience, Jason Blake executes forty minutes of precision musicianship with no overdubs. The album was mixed by Tyler Rice at Transient Sound, mastered by Bob Katz at Digital Domain (Foghat, Sinead O’Connor, Necrophagist), and completed with artwork by Hajo Müller (Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson).
“I had this idea to explore the theme of loneliness inside of one’s mind. Then, the lockdown occurred, and I felt that this was the time to begin composing the music,” Blake explains of the album.
Imaginary Cages will be released by Wayfarer Records on February 25th. Find preorders for the standard digital, 24 Bit High Res digital, and CD HERE. Also see performance videos for “Abstractions Of Thought” and “Obscured Clarity” HERE and watch for similar videos to see release over the weeks ahead.
Imaginary Cages Track Listing:
- Abstractions Of Thought
- Obscured Clarity
- Drawn And Distrait
- Buried In Contemplation
- Lost Reveries
- Denouncement Of Logic
A mini-interview with Jason Blake about the album:
> A 6-track album in the form of a concept, what is the theme that binds the songs?
“I would say that the overall theme of the album is isolation. I had this idea of our mind as a cage that we sometimes live in. For some people this may be seen as daydreaming or being lost in our thoughts. For others this may be mental obstacles that prohibit us from doing what we would like to do. On the extreme side, these are the people who have appeared to have “lost their mind” and no longer make sense to the rest of society.“
> A work that incorporates different genres and styles, how would you describe the music on the album?
“I wanted it grounded in a progressive rock sound first and foremost so that it almost acted as an extension of what I’m doing in Aziola Cry. I tend to compose in odd time signatures, so I definitely didn’t stop myself from writing in a similar way. What I did differently was not restrict myself solely to a more rock vibe but incorporate my appreciation for classical music as well. Ultimately, I wanted the playing to sound like me and different from the solo touchstyle music that is already out there. In terms of following the storyline, I liked that each of the six pieces worked together to form a cohesive whole, but also had unique characteristics that separated them.“
> How does the sound of the album differ from that of your band Aziola Cry?
“Like I mentioned, I hear a lot of similarities between the two and that was intentional. The last song, “Denouement of Logic” could almost be an Aziola Cry song. My original goal was to create an album that did not require guitar and drums. It had nothing to do with not wanting to play with the guys, but rather setting a challenge for myself to see what it would sound like.“
> Many will wonder if there will be the possibility to listen to your music live, do you have any plans for that?
“I do. I have two shows already lined up for next month. One is in Chicago and the other is in Milwaukee. I plan to expand on this, and book further shows after I finish up an album that I am working on with another project that I am involved with called Backward Sky Falling.
Also, I recorded a somewhat live video of each of the songs which will be released over time. They were shot in black and white and contain short animations that help further tell the story. At this point, episodes one and two have premiered and may be viewed on my YouTube channel.
> In the album you explore the sounds of the Warr Guitar, tell us more about this instrument and its characteristics.
“The Warr guitar is a twelve string touchstyle instrument which means that you play it by taping the strings. The nature of the instrument allows for a lot of sonic possibilities. From interlocking lines to guitar and bass playing simultaneously to an almost percussive attack. I tried to incorporate the many possibilities of the instrument into each of the songs. If you go to my website, jasonblakemusic.com, you can find pictures of the different Warr guitars that I play.“
Last week the artist published the official video for the track “Lost reverie,” watch it through the YouTube player below: