Duo clears the decks for the New Year by releasing long-in-the-works EP
Everything about Visions, Maza Blaska's new three-song EP, screams springtime — save for its December release date.
The glowing album cover features a host of orange butterflies resting on a pile of fresh peaches, and the music opens with the kaleidoscopic, African-rhythm-tinged “Kekeli,” which hits like a warm breeze cutting across the Serengeti.
“I think once we had all the materials together we were like, ‘Get it out. Here's a date,'” said Sam Corlett, who joined bandmate Yoni Mizrachi for an early December interview Downtown. “It really wasn't very strategic. I think, for us, it really is about getting it out so we can get on to the next thing. We wanted to start the next year with nothing waiting in the wings. We wanted to feel creatively reset.”
Part of this can be attributed to the long gestation period for these three songs, which the duo labored over off and on for nearly four years, navigating constant interruptions for work and school. The timeline was further extended by the recording process, which necessitated multiple trips to Athens to work with producer Eddie Ashworth, an associate professor of music production and recording industry at Ohio University.
“We have to schedule that, and then we'll get a weekend [to work] and maybe the song's not done and we won't meet again for maybe another three months,” said Mizrachi, who will join Corlett and a trio of session players for an EP release show at Ace of Cups on Thursday, Dec. 28. “It's really spaced out.”
Indeed, some of the songs date back even further, such as “Kekeli,” which is rooted in a 2010 experience Corlett had while working at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
“There was a kid there in hospice who had a brain tumor. The family had come from Ghana to get care, and the mom was pregnant with a second child. It was such a magical family and such a sad situation, but I asked them what Kekeli's name meant, and it meant ‘first light of the morning,'” Corlett said. “And the next child's name was Klenam, which means ‘shine for me,' and the mom and dad explained that would represent [their older son] living on, and I just thought it was so beautiful. It inspired me for a really long time.”
Columbus natives Corlett and Mizrachi started working together in 2008 after meeting at an alternative high school, taking Mizrachi's solo computer demos and gradually expanding on the music, replacing digitized samples with live instrumentation.
“It went from being this solo project with just me and my laptop to this huge thing,” said Mizrachi (the band recorded Storyteller, its 2011 debut, alongside students in a music production class taught by Ashworth).
“Yoni was using the MIDI keyboard and his laptop, so we went from using a trumpet sound to having a kid be like, ‘Oh, I can play trumpet,'” Corlett said. “It made us want to keep doing that. … Having more instrumentation really brings the songs to life. It's been an evolution.”