Making music is different afterwards, when you could've been killed.
Oblisk's Asim Akhtar is a traveler, both incorrigibly and intrepidly. Heretofore, his band has been tagged with being characteristically propulsive in its delivery of shimmer-swooned fuzz rock... (...we can go ahead and say it, since everyone else already did: shoegaze). Traveling, or even simply driving down the freeway, kinetics-in general, were major influences for the Ferndale-based songwriter. To keep those fires lit, he takes at least three trips a year, sometimes only a minimum of 900 miles, sometimes as far as 1,900 miles. He's been to the Amazon, Central America and New York just in the last calendar year alone.
But on the dawn of the Arab Spring, three months ago, he returned to the land from whence he descends, Pakistan...
...and found himself caught in the crossfire, ducked in the backseat of a car reared to a halt in a busy intersection... "the sound...it just felt like the bullets were five inches from your head." It wasn't another target killing, as were rampant through Karachi through last autumn, but three people were killed. "It was a daily thing," while Akhtar was there, "shootings all the time. It really effected a lot of (my songwriting). Songs, when I write, resemble feelings I had in those travels."
Since returning last month, Akhtar said, "I'm challenging myself to write a different way." Oblisk, with Nick Baran, Roy Elturk and Dave Cheal, are currently piecing together their third proper LP as they look forward to this weekend's performance opening for Crystal Stilts, 5/21 @ the Magic Stick with Bad Indians.
Akhtar has gotten so deeply invested, or lost, --in his writing...minding a balance of simmered emotions and reflective focus, that he often takes breaks, stepping outside onto his porch and letting the demos play back from speakers simply so he can feel a bit more disconnected, or hear it played back from a distance, as an outsider.
The new sound being developed for this album will stray from shoegaze... less atmospheric/head-in-the-clouds stuff and more "like head in the sea...as a legitimate band you should always be evolving right? There's a lot of bands in that shoegazey genre and it's sounding all the same. We're taking some risks, even though people may know us as this, they (the changes) might be sublte."
These songs "always end up telling stories," Akhtar said, and will assuredly spring from his current recipe of matching memories, be they Karachi cross fire or helplessly spotting a mugging, in the morning during call to prayer from his elevated position in a balcony, these memories will fit the sounds conjured by his band mates, and the words will surge out admist the mesmeric guitars, bolstering bass and tight, punching drums.
It'll mean so much more.
Wanna hear some Crystal Stilts, to acqauint thine-self?