Out Her Space, released 17th November on Bella Union, features all Blau’s own material, production and multi-instrumental skills, and forges a gorgeous, languid and hook-infested gumbo of soul, funk, some jazzy blowing and Afro-pop, to arrive somewhere else entirely. Blau previously shared the first track from the LP, entitled “Slow Children”, which you can listen to HERE, while the album is available to preorder HERE.
Out Her Space also testifies to Blau’s studio skills, as he captures the glimmering, humid depths of those sweltering southern influences, despite his north-western heritage. But then Blau has engineered and produced a heap of records for himself and others, often at his home in Anacortes, releasing records onWashington’s favourite indies K and Knw-Yr-Own, as well as through his own Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society subscription service. But Out Her Space comes from another place, with another story to tell.
In 2009, Blau had been asked to record Richmond, Virginia country-psych band Great White Jenkins, fronted by Matthew E. White. In 2012, when White started a new label, Spacebomb, based around a house band in the style of the old Stax and Motown ventures, he called on Blau again. The album that came from this partnership was White’s solo album Big Inner (snatched up by Domino Records), which The Guardian called, “a genuine revelation.”
Having heard Blau’s own demos, White ensured that Spacebomb’s hot-to-trot backing band – centred around bassist Cameron Ralston and drummer Pinson Chanselle – supported Blau too, and he came away with an album’s worth of tracks, which also featured Blau (guitar, percussion, synth, sax), White (guitar, synth), Phil Cook of MegaFaun (piano) and a wider cast of horns, piano, viola and backing vocals. It’s partly where Out Her Space got its name: “It’s a cousin to Big Inner,” says Blau.
The album plays with humanitarian themes, against a backdrop of self-immolating American politics. For starters, the title Out Her Space was equally inspired by Blau’s, “overwhelming feeling to point out that men, in general, need to listen, to stop being so assertive and to get out of her space, let her balance again. Chill out dudes, rather than lead us over the cliff.”
The opening ‘Poor The War Away’ was written during the George W Bush era, “and it’s more relevant than ever. We’re steamrolling down the mountain side.” ‘Slow Children’ is a request for mankind to slow down, with a “rigid truth chorus” and “free association” verses, says Blau.
The speedier ‘Where You Goin’ Papa’ also works better in 2017 than 2012, since Blau’s youngest daughter is no longer a baby, and he can think about touring again – it’s another reason, he says, why it was worth delaying this album. ‘I Got The Sounds Like You Got The Blues’ addresses the same scenario – “as the family breadwinner, I’m telling my kids, don’t worry, I’ll be back” – while both tracks feature some mighty jazzy extemporising. “Some songs have long tails,” he says. “I thought maybe we should cut them off, but they grew on me.”
Another key track is the album’s country-rocking ‘Blue As My Name’: blau in German means ‘blue’, as well as ‘drunk’, “which is describing me, as I’m ‘drunk with wonder again’ in the song. I constantly find life is amazing, but alongside that, is the feeling that things are out of control.”
The world is out of control, but Blau’s life is anything but. Introducing Karl Blau did its job, as a great record and an introduction to a wider audience. Given Matthew E. White was voted a ‘breakout artist’ of 2012/13, then Blau, on this evidence, is unquestionably a ‘breakout artist’ of 2017/18. If Out Her Space has finally found the right time to emerge, so too has its creator.
Karl Blau has announced a number of European shows to follow release including the below four UK shows. He will also take part in what is sure to be a very special evening at the Barbican for the Spacebomb Revue, an evening hosted by Matthew E. White. Dates + live info below:
Friday 7th October – LONDON – Barbican (Spacebomb Revue Show)
Thursday 30th November – LONDON – Borderline
Friday 1st December – MANCHESTER – Low Four @ Old Granada Studio
Saturday 2nd December – GLASGOW – Stereo
Sunday 3rd December – LEEDS – Brudenell Social Club
Out Her Space will be released 17th November on Bella Union.