ENTRANCE the project moniker for Guy Blakeslee has been responsible for articulating some of the higher ideals experienced by singer songwriters. Behind Blakeslee is a catalog of songs that borrows from an era of writing that formed new measures of what pop can achieve. His new album Book of Changes is built on his years of experience, traveling the planet as an old-school troubadour relating issues of the personal, political and natural geographies that he navigates.
However, this album doesn’t just sit simply as ‘the most recent issue from a solid writer’ Book of Changes contains a signal in it’s name. This is an album the digs deep into Blakeslee’s love for craft, and it powers forward into a more expansive sound – countered by the best, perhaps most intimate and heartbreaking vocal performances of Blakeslee’s recording career. This stuff is magic.
Taking it’s title from the the I-Ching, or ‘Book of Changes’ this album leans into the sense of divination that an artist encounters when facing the metaphysical reality of creative process. For those unfamiliar with the I-Ching – it is an ancient collection of hexagrams with accompanying verses, and it works like this: Consulting the book a person would hold a question in mind, cast coins into the pages of the book, depending on how they fell they would produce a variety of hexagrams; a combination of positive and negative values (heads and tails, etc etc) The resulting hexagrams then offer a verse that would reveal something like a direction, or sense of poetic perspective to the question. C.J. Jung was a fan of the I-Ching, Leonard Cohen was known to dabble. Popbollocks consults the I-Ching every now and again. You should give it a whirl yourself… Anyway…
Blakeslees’s use of the ‘Book of Changes’ is a give-away to the core spirit of this album. There are moments of fear, hope, loss – but ultimate redemption. As the song cycle progresses so the sense of completion, and calm is achieved. It’s an ambitious device and it works extraordinarily well.
Aside from the metaphysical aspect of this album, the nuts and bolts work exquisitely. Sing-along choruses echo gypsy camps, production values resonate with that deep walnut sound you’d hear on classic 70’s albums where lava lamps glowed. Even at it’s most complex the sound still resonates at the analog frequency of the listener’s heart.
The beauty of an album like Book of Changes is held in it’s replaying, and how Blakesee’s personal, lyrical totems continue to resonate long after you stop listening. “We were driving too fast on Mulholland / every curve felt more like falling / To rattle my nerves you cross the line / and swerved the wheel back just in time” from “Leaving California” nails the sense of exhilaration of surrender, and reflects the magic of this album well. There forces, natural and human, that influence the pattern of Blakeslee’s heartbeat – and it’s the uncertainty that is celebrated, almost revered.
So, anyway – we fell in love with this album. We invited Guy to take part in an interview, but we requested that he consult the I-Ching to help direct his answers, because it seems like the Tao of the project could inform us of some greater truths.
QUESTION: When is a good time for change?
Cast Hexagram: 46 – Forty-Six Shêng / Upward Mobility
Beneath the Soil, the Seedling pushes upward toward the light:
To preserve his integrity, the Superior Person contents himself with small gains that eventually lead to great accomplishment.
Have no doubts.
Seek guidance from someone you respect.
A constant move toward greater clarity will bring reward.
You are progressing, rising inch-by-inch toward certain success.
What makes this assured is your refusal to tilt headlong toward your goal, slamming into obstacles and going mad with frustration.
You have a clear map before you of the steps necessary to reach your objective.
With faithful patience and a careful conservation of personal energy and resources, you will run this long, slow distance.
QUESTION: How do I thank all the people involved in this project?
Cast Hexagram: 3 – Three. Chun / Difficulty at the Beginning
Thunder from the Deep:
The Superior Person carefully weaves order out of confusion.
Supreme Success if you keep to your course.
Carefully consider the first move.
New ventures always pack along their inherent chaos.
Though this is an annoyance at best, and can even imperil or downright doom an endeavor, it is also the friction needed to polish your project to jewel brilliance.
Learn from these early obstacles.
QUESTION THREE: Where has this project taken my life?
Cast Hexagram: 58 – Fifty-Eight. Tui / Empowering
The joyous Lake spans on and on to the horizon:
The Superior Person renews and expands his Spirit through heart-to-heart exchanges with others.
Success if you stay on course.
This is the sign of true companionship.
The principals in this situation exchange energy, ideas and feelings, constantly invigorating and encouraging each other to new heights of Spiritual achievement and Self-discovery.
This exchange is not for the glory of the Team, but for furthering the process of each individual’s ‘Te’, or pure potentiality.
QUESTION: In no less than 250 words and in no more than 500 words – tell us how you feel about the Tao of your project.
“The TAO of the project, in many ways, is just the TAO of me as a human- my psychology and my emotions are the guiding principles and my energy and resources are the seed that originated what has now blossomed into a newborn flower. How do I feel about it? Hard to say since I AM it in many ways.
The I-Ching is always so revelatory and I appreciate that it’s so blunt at times, even harsh. Facing difficult truths is a big part of this project and a part of the process of growing as a human being or a society.
The reply to my first question made a lot of sense- and resonates with one of the themes of the record and how it was made– that although we all fear and yet crave big changes, the real change is always happening in tiny pieces. It’s always the right time for change because change is inevitable and it’s more about how we ride these waves than about making a splash.. the splash comes later after the perseverance and after overcoming doubt and impatience. Be the change.
The second question had an unexpected answer, a difficult truth. At first it’s going to be hard for me to adequately thank all of the angels who helped me create this work and all of the collaborators who are going to bring the songs to life with me on the road and the stage, because there’s not much money on hand. SO the thanks and appreciation has to be expressed on a more subtle vibrational level, largely by remaining in gratitude and steering clear of doubt and frustration.
This will lead to the answer to the third question– everyone involved is participating in a greater plan, a means of realizing our potential as free individuals… It’s not about glory for a team, but the labor of love for each individual that brings fulfillment and can be a vehicle for exploration. In a way that’s what’s lucky about being poor, getting to create things built purely on love and sacrifice. I do believe the surrender and asceticism that it took for me (and us) to create this record will result in some kind of cosmic reward for myself and the others involved, because I know that we all came to it from a place of love.
Overall, I feel a sense of peace about the TAO of this project, knowing that a stormy journey is about to begin but that at the center there is a pure intention. And consulting the I-Ching, which gave the record its name, was helpful in reminding me of this, so thank you!”
HURRY – LISTEN – ENTRANCE
image credit: amanda charchian