If this were the 70s and a 21-year-old Blake Helton was trying to avoid the draft, he’d pack up his drums and head for Germany in hopes of making some krautrock-infused fuzzy space jazz-rock. The kind with with the occasional pedal steel.
By 1974, he’d have pilgrimaged to the Middle East, West Africa and India for immersion in the indigenous classical and funky butt-shaking sounds (and snacks) that echoed the climate and culture of the day. Picking up a lot of native instruments along the way, Blake would then have returned to Germany to pay some bills and check in with his old lady, but a ferry stop in Cyprus would detour him for a bit so he could sit in with a Cypriot metal band.
Time enough for grilled meat, Keo Beer, glue delivery vans and an EP release in Holland, he’d find himself back in the States, eventually thrust in to a more improvisatory world. One which brings all his life experiences and sonic absorptions to the surface. Like the hypnotic sound of 16th notes played on a gallon Nido milk can over thunderous Kenyan drums and storytelling chants, the dissonant harmony of overlapping calls to prayer from tinny old speaker horns and loud music from a beat-up taxi, thick bass tones from a Gordon Lightfoot track, chewy electric piano swells and nasty synth textures from Stevie Wonder's Innervisions oozing out of a plastic record player, the feeling you get when a jam reaches its explosive peak, discovering the endless possibilities connecting your inner creative juices with your instrument as the wellspring.
Like his fantasy-self, Blake can't help but summon these influences when communicating with others on his instruments and believes reaching out and finding new captivating sounds and inspiration is what it's all about. Creating something out of nothing – letting it happen organically, like a stimulating conversation. Before you know it, it's gone, so you need to dig it while it's happening.