By: Eric Cocoletzi
Hanging with Time and Energy is a marijuana-hazed loop of randomness and intense thought. Discussing their latest album, Open Channels, was never something that could realistically be accomplished in one sitting. Both Brennan Roach and Jorge Rios, the two core members of the band, are the kind of people that speak the same way they write music. Their words leave you with plenty of verbal fat leftover afterward to chew on and mull over in your mind, while you try to piece together what just happened during that brief moment of connectivity.
During the initial interview within my smoky living room, located in Santa Ana, the two made it clear that Open Channels was not intended to be a traditional album. However, by the time it was finished, they had 10 tracks, spanning just 30 minutes, showcasing their raw fluidity, meshed with transcendental soundscapes.
A few days later, the two were relaxing at The Ad Arts Building in the heart of Santa Ana and I sat with Roach in his studio and listened to Open Channels come through the speakers in his ceiling, while we shared a fat spliff.
"We wrote the songs on our own time and we recorded it whenever we had time within a span of about six to eight months," says Roach while exhaling, "It was really scattered. We took our time with it. There was no rush. We just did it in our garage." Within the first track, "Powerslide," one already gets the sense that their third album was written and recorded without expecting to be able to pull off most of the tracks in a live setting. To this day, they can only play four songs live–barely. "It would involve some really tricky footwork and switching of instruments," says Rios, "It's the first time we wrote an album without trying it live first. 'Aji ALai' is the most difficult song to play live. Brennan sings on 'Binary Mind' and 'Onion Like' which is his singing debut. It's a very cut and paste type of record."
The two were originally going to come out with a six-song EP, but ended up writing more than they expected. What came to be is a cassette release that comes along with a few stickers and a zine/booklet containing some original artwork by Rios and Roach that acts as a backdrop for the handwritten lyrics to the entire album. All of the aforementioned was designed and produced by local Santa Ana artist Michael Ziobrowski with a little help from the band, plus the savagely raw photography skills of local Santanero, Freddy Medina of Stoop Down. The cover is a spur of the moment collaboration between Ziobrowski and local artist Sean Robertson. It dawns a Zenned-out Buddha surrounded by static-infested television sets–a juxtaposition of peace and modern unrest in one image.
Open Channels was actually wrapped up two years ago, but due to a lack of funds, they had to wait to put it out. It was finally released via X Is The Weapon Records, spawned by Ziobrowski. Evolving from their debut album Entertainica, and sophomore effort Strange Kind of Focus, which established their style as a loop-based band–Open Channels is a culmination of all their skills; embedded on magnetic tape, spooled in a cassette.
The second to the last track "Wake Up" features a rumbling freight train before it fades into the sound of wind chimes that nuzzle the listener to a peaceful state of tranquility. Before getting into the prickly-bright tonalities of "Mesmerize You," the song kicks off with a recording that Roach got down one day in front of The Yost Theatre as some guy on the street was banging furiously on a water drain pipe and rambling about islands, soldiers, and pineapples.
If you get the album, which you most definitely should, it'll all be worth it for "Formula One," the track often considered the single of the album and with good reason. The melody in Rios' are wise and confident. It makes sense considering what has been shaping their music lately: "Jiu-Jitsu, yoga, meditating, and practicing trumpet is getting me going right now," says Rios, while sitting in what looked like a relaxed lotus position, "Just getting into 'practice'." Brennan, on the other hand, has been "wondering about life…questioning reality a lot and finding out things…Alan Watts is a huge influence…have you ever listened to Ken Wilber?" He exhaled a cumulus plume of creamy smoke.
With Open Channels, it's clear that the duo headed toward a direction reminiscent of The Beatles circa their Sgt. Pepper era, when they realized that their new material didn't have to fit into a live playability sort-of-construct. Time and Energy have once again moved on to another level of musicality; always pushing forward toward nuance wrapped in chance and spontaneity.
For more info and purchasing the new Time and Energy album, Open Channels click here.