Big Scenic Nowhere Premiere New Single “Lavender Bleu”

Posted in audiObelisk on June 4th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

big scenic nowhere

Hard to talk about Big Scenic Nowhere and not use the term ‘supergroup.’ The band, which made their first release through Blues Funeral Recordings‘ ‘PostWax’ subscription series and followed that 2019 proof-of-concept Dying on the Mountain EP (discussed here) quickly by signing to Heavy Psych Sounds to issue a debut album, Vision Beyond Horizon (review here) and a subsequent EP, Lavender Blues (review here), both in 2020. Founded with the collaboration between guitarists Gary Arce (Yawning Man) and Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) at its core, the band quickly came to include Tony Reed (Mos Generator) on vocals, bass and various keys, drummer Bill Stinson (Yawning Man), and a range of guests that has continued to expand even as the lineup solidified.

As Bob Balch talked about in his interview here last month, the four-piece got together in Nov. 2019 for a few days of jamming and they’re still going through the resultant material to piece together songs. Their second album, The Long Morrow, is set to see release this Fall through Heavy Psych Sounds, and its big scenic nowhere the long morrowsongs are being issued piecemeal, one at a time, ahead of the full LP’s arrival. Premiering today, “Lavender Bleu” is the third cut to make its way to public ears behind the more straightforward driving “LeDü” and the weighted-riff-into-harmonies-and-dream-build of “Murder Klipp,” and like each of the preceding songs, it finds Big Scenic Nowhere with a different look. Across just over five minutes, it centers around trademark Arce noodling and the more grounded impulses of Balch setting a path for Stinson‘s drums, while Reed‘s vocals enter gentle, not quite foreshadowing the pickup to come at around 1:40 in.

Though “Lavender Bleu” — which reworks themes from the prior EP as Balch explains below — gets heavier, it never pushes too far away from the classic prog rock spirit one finds at its beginning, and instead trades back and forth before a Mellotron-inclusive ending offers duly resonant culmination. It is prog-of-old filtered through desert ambience with a heavy rock underpinning, and for many bands, this song would be more than enough of a stylistic blueprint to serve as a career arc. That is to say, there are bands who put out albums less rich than this one track and do just fine. Yet one would not call “Lavender Bleu” overbaked or overthought. Sculpted around improvisation, it nonetheless retains that air of spontaneity no matter how many layers are situated atop the basic tracks.

It’s fascinating on a process level to hear Balch talk about how the material for The Long Morrow is coming together — if you didn’t watch that interview, your loss — but “Lavender Bleu” brings more fluidity than the sum of the parts making it, and the textures it speaks to only herald further depth of exploration still to come. I can’t wait to hear this record.

Each member of Big Scenic Nowhere offers some comment below, I think in a manner that represents personae well. Arce talks about the improv, Balch the chord progression, Stinson the overall vibe of the finished product and Reed the reference point from which the lyrics emerged and the melody of the vocals. You can also stream the other two songs near the bottom of this post.

Enjoy the track and stay tuned for more on The Long Morrow:

Big Scenic Nowhere, “Lavender Bleu” official track premiere

LAVENDER BLEU is the new BIG SCENIC NOWHERE single. The track is taken from the band’s upcoming new album THE LONG MORROW, to be released this fall on Heavy Psych Sounds.

Bob Balch on “Lavender Bleu”:

“Lavender Bleu” is actually a combination of two songs from our “Lavender Blues” EP. When we recorded back in November of 2019, we would play two riffs a few times back and forth and then just jam out on one of the riffs. Think
(riff A, riff B, riff A, riff B, jam out on riff A)
(riff A, riff B, riff A, riff B, jam out on riff B)
So the jams became “Lavender Blues” and “Labyrinths Fade” from our last EP. Now with “Lavender Bleu” you get to hear how those are actually sections of the same song.
I really like how this tune turned out. Can’t really think of another band that sounds like this. Everybody killed it on this one.

Tony Reed on “Lavender Bleu”:

“Lavender Bleu” was the first song I worked on after the November 2019 recording sessions. I had Dan (Joeright) set up a microphone during the sessions so I could sing Ideas that were happening when we were recording the jams. I think this was the only song where the vocal melody came to me as we were recording. This is my favorite song of all the material we’ve done together. I’m a huge fan of melody and this has tons of it. It has a melancholy / romantic feel that I find pleasing as well. “Bleu” is spelled this way after one of my all time favorite songs. A song called “Butterfly Bleu” by Iron Butterfly. The lyrics seem to be about taking a harder path. Making sacrifices in life to follow passion and calling rather than falling into a routine where, as you get older, you’re constantly saying “I wish I….”

Gary Arce on “Lavender Bleu”:

“Lavender Bleu” started with a mellow riff I was messing with for a awhile. We had been been jamming for a few hours and I wanted to slow it down and do something more open and spacious. So I started playing the main riff and everyone just kinda fell into place quietly and patiently. The second heavier part just happened naturally during the jam. It’s one of my favorite songs we’ve done so far. Tony kills it on vocals on this song.

Bill Stinson on “Lavender Bleu”:

This song really pulls you in different directions… melancholy and weaving a story through the music.

Big Scenic Nowhere, The Long Morrow (2021)

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Video Interview: Bob Balch Talks Big Scenic Nowhere’s The Long Morrow, New Fu Manchu, and More

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on May 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

big scenic nowhere

There’s a point somewhere after 12 minutes in that Bob Balch reaches with both hands to his right and in a completely fluid motion, pulls a guitar in front of him, where it remains for the rest of the interview. And honestly, from that point on, he looks more comfortable too. This is a guy who spends a goodly portion of every day living just like this: in that chair, thinking, working, teaching, learning the craft of guitar. I don’t even know how many times he calls himself a nerd throughout the conversation, but it’s several. And awesome. He lives and breathes it.

Known for his work as well in Fu Manchu, whose 30th anniversary tour and release plans were scuttled in 2020, Balch has of late been overseeing the construction and release of the second Big Scenic Nowhere full-length, titled The Long Morrow. The group big scenic nowhere the long morrow— legit “super,” with Balch joined by Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed and guitarist Gary Arce and drummer Bill Stinson, both of Yawning Man — have two songs released as of this post. Both of them come from a stockpile of jams the four-piece (and some friends, like Masters of Reality‘s Chris Goss) put together over the course of three days in 2019 — the same sessions from which their 2020 debut, Vision Beyond Horizon (review here), and the follow-up EP, Lavender Blues (review here), were carved.

That process, taking jams, finding tones and rhythms that coincide, and building songs from them, would seem to be how Balch spent much of a 2020 that otherwise would’ve been on the road, but as of now, work is still being done on The Long Morrow ahead of its coming out sometime hopefully this Fall. Balch talks about guest appearances to come, the project’s origins in wanting to jam with Arce and Reed and some of the material’s birth in his own Sun and Sail Club outfit — also the hilarious circumstances of how that more frenetic project was born, which I didn’t know previously — recording and release plans for Fu Manchu, who’ll look to get back on tour next year across multiple continents and follow-up the early-2020 Fu30 Pt. 1 EP with more originals and covers. If you’re wondering Fu Manchu practices on Thursdays. That’s Fu day.

Given the chance, I also wanted to talk about Balch‘s work in guitar instruction — he gives lessons and runs PlayThisRiff.com with videos and interviews with guitarists — his recent return to taking lessons rather than just giving them, and more general guitar stuff that’s piqued his interest of late. There was a lot of ground to cover, and it was a cool chat.

As always, I hope you enjoy:

Big Scenic Nowhere, The Long Morrow Interview with Bob Balch, May 10, 2021

Big Scenic Nowhere‘s The Long Morrow is being released as singles ahead of a full-LP arrival later this year on Heavy Psych Sounds. Fu Manchu‘s anniversary tour plans for 2022 are coming soon. More info at the links.

Big Scenic Nowhere, The Long Morrow (2021)

Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1 EP (2020)

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At the Dojo Records website

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