Who: Jay Winebrenner (guitar), Darrell Bourque (bass), Jake Morris (drums).
For Fans Of: The Mars Volta, Máscaras, Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.
Sounds Like: The musty, sweat-rusted weight room at the barracks of an army of Egyptian pharaohs training for the apocalypse on the rings of Saturn…or something like that.
Jake Morris has an aversion to humblebragging. In the hour we talked about his instrumental prog trio, Blesst Chest, the drummer recalled a decade spent in service of minimum-wage day jobs and shoestring-budget tours, but never once specifically referenced the band's collective résumé.
Morris and bassist Darrell Bourque spent years in local quartet Joggers, while guitarist Jay Winebrenner played in the captivating, theatrical math-rock trio 31 Knots. Both bands enjoyed critical praise and modest notoriety, and found distribution through highly respected outlets like Polyvinyl and Star Time International.
But Morris downplays any musical accomplishment. He even references "this other band I'm also in that keeps me touring constantly," without specifying that it's Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.
On the other hand, considering Blesst Chest's formation was more a sigh of relief for three guys in their 40s who'd already sacrificed their early adulthood to indie rock, maybe those past endeavors are not entirely relevant.
"This was just something we did to get Jay out of the house," Morris says. "Our goals changed. It was like, 'Let's play a show and only play for 13 minutes.' That was our first goal as a band—like, '13 minutes, fuck yeah!'"
After accomplishing that feat, next up was making a record. Blesst Chest's upcoming debut, Wish We Were There, has the rugged, well-rehearsed appeal that reflects the members' experience, with all the brazen abandon of guys who've been around way too long to bother with poses. Hypnotic, dazzling guitar figures circle with the complexity of a Rubik's Cube but ultimately resolve in sludgy, caveman simplicity. Yet there's a brainy agility to their noodling, with phrases of melody coming and going so quickly, and with such urgency, that even the most tuneful among them sounds like a battle cry.
Making the album was another unceremonious affair, recorded in the basement of the makeshift studio where Blesst Chest practices, which also happens to be the home of Cribs bassist Gary Jarman, who served as engineer. Morris gives Jarman credit for capturing the band's complex sound on record—which, given his penchant for modesty, is unsurprising.
"He did all the work," Morris says. "We got super-lucky. Most places just take your money and hit the button, but he made suggestions, made each song have its own palette, and fussed over it for, like, no money. We felt bad. We just always feel bad—about everything."
SEE IT: Blesst Chest plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Hot Victory and Plankton Wat, on Friday, July 29. 9 pm. $5. 21+.