Jensen Sportag, “Bellz”

Sjimon Gompers

Jensen Sportag rings the slickest synth "Bellz" yet, off the forthcoming album Stealth of Days. (photos of courtesy of Jensen Sportag / Cascine)

Enter the latest electronic frontiers of Nashville's Jensen Sportag with “Bellz”, your first listen from the much anticipated album, Stealth of Days, available this Fall from Cascine. The recent years have found the duo of Austin Wilkinson and Elvis Craig working on re-routing the approaches and notions of the many things electronic music can be and possibly create in the minds of listeners; experimenting with the data from desired and intended effects of certain keyboard choices and note arrangements. “Bellz” rings with the first resonances and results from Jensen's operation Stealth, as Austin gave us one of the first inside looks into the criteria at work and the collected gestalt of the Sportag synth sporting life.

The first listen from the full-length follow up to Pure Wet feels like a visit to a futuristic car showroom. The opening synths hit the senses like the cooling spray from a bottled fragrance of that new car interior type of perfume, as the ultimate test drive commences. The keys sparkle and reflect the world around in the similar way that city lights shine back from the chrome and paint polished surfaces. But this trial run off the dealership lot makes no u-turn, as Austin and Elvis take you deep into the thick of the night's limitless potential. Take the joyride evening cruise where the sound of the past's memories and the surrounding sceneries of the moments combine together as this meeting shines forth from the vehicle's glittering hood.

Austin Wilkinson took a moment to talk with us about the multi-faceted developments of Jensen Sportag, creating memories and sensations through music, along with emotionally nostalgic stimuli, clever falling synth lines, and more.

From Cottonwood to Nashville, TN, and from Pure Wet to Stealth of Days; how do you both describe these movements and progressions in terms of a friendship stemming from childhood and developments in your synergy of sound?

Nashville is a fine place to earn a living and dine out but Cottonwood is still home, where the studio is. We've been spending most of our time at home lately. Pure Wet was at the beginning of a transition in our sound. At the time it was compiled, 2010-2011 we were playing alot of style games in the studio, like hosting softsynth preset costume parties. We'd treat keyboard patches like characters letting them determine era and location and plot based on their sonic personalities. Often our songs unfolded as late 80's after-school teen pregnancy dramas because we love those sound characters with their innocent and weepy voices. Around that time, however; Elvis started building more custom sounds while I was becoming more comfortable with the process of recording my own voice. What resulted from writing with our homemade tools was a sound more honest than I think we were originally attempting but that was, in retrospect, clearly there the whole time. Recollecting the beautiful music of our shared childhood, we started writing with our own sounds and voices as the people we hoped to be thought of and by doing so, we quickly learned that we were in fact these people all along.

What were some of the construction synth secrets behind the craft that makes “Bellz” ring out in this beckoning, “come into my world” quality? In making music that transports you to new places, familiar places, igniting new and old notions and such; what were some inspirational inceptions for you both that give so much character to your keyboard choices?

The texture of the sounds in our songs is paramount. I mean, it's only the sound of the song we're talking about after all. We pay a lot of attention to shaping and layering sounds until their texture, color and movement relate to the melodic sentiment in an intimate and interesting way. In “Bellz” that sentiment is more basic than in other songs from Stealth of Days. The synths just needed to evoke a sense of mysterious beckoning. As if you're lost in a dark misty woods, your fear is growing. A slightly sinister apparition appears and calls to you, promises to rescue you. You have little choice but to follow for the greater fear of all else that is unknown. The falling synth lines that open the song act as long silvery fingers outstretched and curling inward in the standard inviting sequence from pinky to index finger. The hypnotic repetition seduces you maybe into an angelic haven or maybe into the locked tower of a lonely banshee. The song offers no conclusion.

In the buildup to the forthcoming release of Stealth of Days, what has Jensen Sportag's 2013 summer been like?

This would be best answered through pictures via the Instagram account @austin_sportag. Lots of quiet time among real things in nature.

What have you both found yourselves listening to via the web, radio, mixtapes, discs of interest, etc?

Recent revelations have come in the form of CFCF's Belongings, Possessions mixtape, Solar Year's Waverly album, Oneohtrix Point Never's “Problem Areas” song and video, very much anticipating R plus 7, and a recent revisitation of all the music of Burnt Friedman.

I feel like you both have tapped into some lush sonic soundworks that act upon the internal memories, and response triggers of the listeners. What can you share about the art of sending channels and signals into the consciousness and mind of the listener that elicits a response that aims toward the listener's response based on preconceived data and learned notions, pertaining to the reactive functions of memory response theorems?

We aren't intentionally sending out secret signals to our listeners anymore. What we're doing now relies on a universal emotional inheritance. The moods we're trying to capture and convey are socially primitive although they are the ones most difficult to put your fingers on both figuratively and technically. Some of the most effective chords are difficult to reach. They express the in-between emotions that are harder to remember because your memory has a way of choosing sides. It will often turn bittersweet minor 7th add 9 moments into standard A minor moments. This is what we're hoping to arouse in ourselves and our listeners, memories and sensations that are hard to recall because they got covered over by our instinct to make clear and simple meaning of life experiences. Some genres and specific artists have done much to express these unstable auras not just through chord theory but through style, sound design and historical context. We've learned what we can from the examples that have meant the most to us. They help us remake our own versions of various less tangible memories. To whatever extent our music is an emotionally nostalgic stimulus to its listeners just demonstrates that we all have these unresolved memories.

Jensen Sportag's Stealth of Days will be available later this Fall from Cascine.

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