INTERVIEW: Warped Freqs | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Designed and recorded pre-lockdown, there’s something uniquely 2020 about the production/writing cycle sitting alongside Shifting Initiation, the new album from psych jazz duo Warped Freqs, that makes it a piece of art for the moment.

Known as much for the way they approach their live music in a jazz freeform style, as they are for the layered texture work of their studio output, Shifting Initiation sees a true reflection of the complete Warped Freqs personality; a piece of art that is both freeform and structured, experimental and tested.

It’s funny when you talk about the history of the band, and our current dynamic,” kicks off multi-instrumentalist Marcus H, “the initial idea was to record everything we did, including our rehearsals, in an almost freeform approach to creation. In a sense, we wanted to capture all of our moments as a band.”

Nudged into considering the importance of a live crowd, Marcus admits that the live playing was essential to the finished album. “What we found was that over time, and playing live, the form of these tracks came into a more standard arrangement. Whilst we may play the songs differently when we play, it was only through our live shows and repeating the songs that we began to find their true structure.”

Arranged in equal parts jazz, psych, breakbeat and doom rock setting, Shifting Initiation is a considerable accomplishment both in terms of technical playing and also ambition, combining moments of instrumental compositions with a deeply cinematic exploration of the sampled spoken word.

It’s great to have the record finished but we’d now like to get back out and improvise it all over again

The tracks on the album definitely developed in the live setting,” confirms the duo’s drummer and tech wizard Phil Davis, “and maybe because we have a low boredom threshold we always tend to tinker with them when we play live, but certainly when it came to the recording of them we wanted to go into a studio, press record, get some loops and sounds going and try to capture what we felt worked live.”

Overdubbed slightly with later bass and synth parts, the final presentation of Shifting Initiation is an album which captures both freeform playing as well as strong production moments. “We’ve got different influences as a duo but when we combine them we get these really interesting results, which includes an anything goes kind of concept. Ultimately though, it all comes back to the philosophy of a composition process of keeping it simple, whether that’s by being influenced by Bill Evans or Sonic Youth, or by playing what we think works the best,” confirms Marcus.

Picked up already by BBC 6Music as well as receiving favourable press reviews, Shifting Initiation is gaining interest from sophisticated music lovers, however the immediate desire from the duo is to get back to playing live. “We can’t wait to play live again and hear the reaction to our work. It’s great to have the record finished but we’d now like to get back out and improvise it all over again.”

Shifting Initiation, an album conceived outside of lockdown, birthed during lockdown, and ready to meet the world in a slightly different form post-lockdown. That’s so 2020.

Warped Freqs release Shifting Initiation on 11th August via Wormhole World

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