Jake Wachtel is a nomad, a 21st Century explorer in a constant state of fluid movement, transformation and change. Making music under the moniker Walktell, the Bay Area-based artist describes himself as “a dedicated peripatetic making psych pop on instruments from all over the world.” His new album Far In is a fresh, wildly free-spirited effort that combines the sounds, rhythms and energies of disparate cultures, and is thereby a unique symbol of global harmony.
Listen: ‘Far In’ – Walktell
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Bay Area artist Walktell’s sophomore album Far In, independently out 8/4/2017. “Far In was born on the road,” explains Wachtel, who has spent the better part of 7 years travelling around the developing world (his current bases lie in Palo Alto, California and Phnom Penh, Cambodia). “I wrote pretty much all of the songs while traveling – sitting on a park bench in Mumbai, walking around a peaceful lake in northern Ethiopia, among the dusty shelves of a bookstore in Paris, watching the whales breach along the coast of south Africa etc. etc. For me, travel has always been twined with inner exploration. Somehow, it is when I am in the places furthest away from what I am accustomed to that I feel most in touch with the deeper truths of existence.”
Born in California, Wachtel’s childhood sounds relatively typical – taking piano lessons in his youth, forming a punk rock band in high school, and so on. Fast-forward to 2017, and he and his artistry are completely one-of-a-kind. His music seemlessly blends traditional and non-traditional structure, sometimes adhering to time signature and other times going wherever the winds will go. He does not attempt perfection: His voice falls short at times; his production could be enhanced; and so on. Yet his music has raw soul and incredible vibrance: It is the music of the world, channeled through one young man who’s made it his goal to learn and play as many different instruments as possible.
Far In features over 44 different instruments collected from across the Eastern Hemisphere, all performed by Wachtel. “The songs aren’t necessarily explicitly tied to a specific location, but they spring from a place of abundant belonging,” the artist explains. “The more I travel, the more convinced I am of our basic brother and sisterhood as a species. In an age of increasing nationalism, I want to make music that speaks to a feeling of global unity, that can transcend borders. Musically, I hope to manifest this by convening instruments from far different cultures into the same song-into dialogues and into rhythmic and melodic complements. I’m endlessly fascinated by the great diversity of musical instruments on this planet (I have a studio with about 70 instruments I’ve collected on my travels). To let them speak to each other and play together, well it’s just a lot of fun to make! I’m interested in the idiom of psychedelic music from the late 60s because for me it’s a time of great optimism. And so I want to fold that ethos into my music because what is more beautiful, what can inspire more hope and awe than the massive cultural patchwork of the human species? With Far In, I have worked hard and joyfully to make a global kaleidoscope of sound to capture the promise of world harmony in a postnational future.”
A formidable experimental force not to be taken lightly, Walktell’s music is incredibly genuine and undeniably cool: Few artists exhibit this much ambition, creativity, and stamina. Enjoy Far In with open ears, a curious mind, and wide eyes – exclusively on Atwood Magazine!
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