Ever heard an album that features the didgeridoo, sitar, kazoo, violin, and singing bowls all in one place? Listen to Blake Hornsby’s latest release, and you’ll be left Teetering on the Edge of the Void of amazement and more instrumental creativity than you’ve ever seen before.
Blake Hornsby has been performing music around Boone, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee since late 2015. Although Teetering on the Edge of the Void is technically his fourth album, it is the first of Blake’s to be done professionally, and features a more mature sound thanks to additional instrumental accompaniment by Sam Fanthorpe (Violin/Cello), Jonathon Sale (Tablas/Doumbeks/Djembe), Joseph Ridolfo (Sitar), Jerry Wallace (Digeridoo), and Jake Van Valkenberg (Backup Vocals). The album is the final release of a conceptual trilogy, and was entirely composed, arranged, and written by Blake, who composed it “far and wide….From the Himalayan Mountains to an apartment in a small mountain town to the holy city of Rishikesh to the breweries of North Carolina to the Appalachian foothills of Tennessee.”
Blake created the album with intentions for his listeners, and wants them to know that each song comes with purpose: “These songs are intended to help you reflect upon life. These songs are intended to help you heal. These songs are intended to provide some sort of meaningful experience from the intensity to the moments of bliss that emerge out of destruction. This album is highly symbolic, and is based upon the phenomenon that you are in control of your own reality. Everything is you.”
“Intro” takes us into the aesthetic of the album with ambient, spacey instrumentals and whispered lyrics. From the start, we are introduced to instruments that are uncommon in mainstream western music, but it’s clear that Blake knows exactly what he’s doing. The tension of the track is held in check by each instrument’s overlapping reach, allowing the perfect amount of movement that descends into quiet chaos. Mysterious and murky, “Intro” sets the tone for a musical journey like no other.
“Peace of Mind” is a two-part track that begins with soulful acoustic guitar. Strumming and picking, Blake incorporates the natural slides and sounds of the instrument into the essence of the track as other strings join in, adding tension to the mix. Paralleling the acoustic guitar, the lyrics of “Peace of Mind” evoke a sense of comfort and encouragement: “Look inside and see what you might find / You will find peace of mind.” The song’s initially relaxed vocals clash with and echo the high-tension, ever-changing instrumentals all at once, creating a beautiful mix of dissonance and harmony. Between the gorgeous guitar skills, intriguing instrumental parts (including a didgeridoo!), and overall atmosphere, “Peace of Mind” features unique elements that will keep listeners interested throughout both parts.
The 5:36 running time of “Wading in the Forefront of a Tangled Mind Spiraling its Thoughts Into Oblivion” matches its detailed, lengthy title. Although certainly not for listeners with a short attention span, the all-instrumental track echoes its name in aesthetics, and is one of my favorites of the album. Highlighting Blake’s talent with trickling, fast-paced acoustic guitar picking, “Wading…” feels very much like dipping a toe into a mind that just keeps on moving in different, complex directions. “Wading…” might not have the sheer number of instruments as some of the other songs of Teetering on the Edge of the Void, but its spirit feels just as strong, and its musicality just as impressive.
“Wading in the Forefront of a Tangled Mind Spiraling its Thoughts Into Oblivion” flows directly into “Reflection of the Sun” with the gentle tinkle of chimes that soon grows into a fully-saturated lineup of instrumentals, including the didgeridoo! The traditional Australian instrument adds depth and liveliness to the song as a whole, aiding the percussion, acoustic guitar, and vocals in creating a twisting, writing being of sound and making it utterly irresistable.
“Variation on Love” features twangy guitar that sets the tone for the track’s mysterious, atmospheric aesthetic. Full of light fills and rhythmic percussion, this track is all about the details in the instrumentals, making it another one of my favorites. The style of “Variation on Love” is utterly unique and saturated, tensions rising with every note in a way that will leave listeners completely out of breath when the final note rings out. “Variation on Love” is living proof of Blake Hornsby and company’s sheer talent.
Another two-parter, “El Dorado” is the final hurrah of the album. It picks up where “Variation on Love” left off, the previous track’s guitar breathing into strings and heavier, strummed notes. Blake’s vocals return, mirrored by violin and surrounded by echoing bells and whispers. Combining elements from the beginning of the album such as mysterious, saturated instrumentals with those from later songs such as the acceleration of tension and tempo, “El Dorado” is a journey into a whole other world with Blake’s distorted voice as your guide through the enigmatic mist.
Overall, Blake Hornsby is a musician of obvious talent, and Teetering on the Edge of the Void is a force to be reckoned with. The official digital release of the album is Friday, June 5th, 2020, which coincides with the first full moon of June. There will be vinyls available for purchase at the end of June, and interested parties can contact Blake directly for pre-order.
While Coronavirus has put Blake’s plans on hold for now, he wants to get back on multiple tours as soon as it is feasible, where he will sell merchandise created by his girlfriend, Gaia, who is an artist. After working hard on the creation of the album, it is Blake’s goal to see the project to the end and get it into the hands of fans new and old. Future tours for this album and those to come will feature Blake’s talent with numerous instruments and a loop pedal in addition to a percussionist and Sam Fanthorpe on violin and cello.
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