’s debut album, Alibi Coast
, has been a long time coming. Over a decade ago, while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design, he formed the experimental noise outfit Black Dice with his friend Bjorn Copeland, leaving the group soon after to pursue a career as a painter
. In the intervening years he’s worked on his music in private, composing his intimate, harmony laden songs in the same way as he paints—gradually building up richly layered sonic textures with acoustic guitar, piano and sighing vocal lines. “Through the layering there’s an almost obsessive sense of relationship building,” he says. “When a voice is singing one line, having a harmony part on it changes the way you’re reading it. It’s the same thing when you put a bright blue next to a lighter blue.” Blanck's personal relationships have also come to play on the record: for the studio sessions he marshaled the vocal talents of Chairlift's Caroline Polachek and Becky Stark, while co-production comes from Violens guitarist Jorge Elbrecht. The title of the album is deliberately ambiguous, though the idea of the West Coast as an evasive getaway has a poignancy for Blanck: in 2007 his brother Toby died in a tragic accident in Arizona, thousands of miles away from his New York-based family, leaving a chapter of his life unknown to them. Though the album doesn’t delve into specifics, many of the songs are conceived as an imaginary narrative of the last months of Toby’s life, the elegiac inspiration resulting in a wistful, uplifting tribute. In today’s exclusive video, the songwriter performs new single “I Blame Baltimore” in New York’s Rare Book Room Studios, a favorite haunt of bands including Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter, Enon and Animal Collective. Blanck will be performing songs from Alibi Coast
at the album’s launch party at New York's Robert Goff Gallery
on June 21.