WorldLine launches Compass Sky with a multisensory show
Finding the right venue for WorldLine’s album-release show was a challenge. The science fiction-inspired, four-piece textural rock band had a very specific vision for how it would present its second record, Compass Sky. There had to be a light show, video projection — and most important — live art. This collaborative, multisensory space is “inspiring, because everybody is there with the same common goal, which is to create art,” says frontman Andrew Schatzberg. “Whether it’s music or paintings or drawings, whatever is happening, you’re just feeding off of whatever is happening in a room. We’re creating the soundtrack, and the artists are painting whatever they’re seeing in their heads.”
The band found a good fit for its dream show at Isis Restaurant & Music Hall. The album-release celebration takes place on Saturday, May 24, at 8 p.m. Local acts Tin Foil Hat and dep will also perform
WorldLine debuted its Live Art Project concept last year at UNC Asheville, where easels were stationed around the room and students were invited to paint and draw along to the band’s set. At the Isis show, artists Jon Graham and Joshua Spiceland will create alongside the band. The artists, while familiar with the music, are given no instructions about what to paint, and the audience is able to watch the artwork unfold as they listen. With the band’s mix of otherworldly and organic themes, as well as frequent left turns between experimental sound and more familiar rock melodies, there’s no telling just how the art will reflect the music.
For Schatzberg and his bandmates — Mark Sheaffer on drums, Art Lubin on bass and backing vocals and Brian Turner on keyboards and backing vocals — the visual component to the show is inseparable from the music. Even the album art is infused with subtle references to song lyrics. Lubin compares bringing artists onstage to playing with new musicians. Turner agrees, adding, “It’s kind of like when I show up to jazz gigs and play with people I’ve never played with before. We play a show, and since music is this universal language, you can connect with people instantly. It’s the same thing with art.”
The light show, too, was a collaboration. An engineering student at UNCA designed the LED light system, and each light can be individually tailored to create a color and pattern suited to each song.
It’s probably not a stretch to point out the overlap between the spontaneity of a live-art performance and the improvisational leanings of the band. But make no mistake, the songs on Compass Sky were composed and carefully sequenced, Schatzberg says. And while it’s not exactly a concept album, the band often plays the songs without breaks, maintaining that cohesion and flow. But before the tracks were laid down in Schatzberg’s North Asheville studio, the band tested the songs out on the road — where there was room for experimentation.
“We have an improvisational component to what we do,” Schatzberg says. “We have these songs that are written, but within these songs there’s this framework where we can jam and just see where the songs take us and what can happen. The whole beauty of the live art is that you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Many of the songs on the album originated from the guiding forces of improvisation and inspiration. “We have these crazy, epic jam sessions — we call them movie jams — where we put on our favorite sci-fi films, and we just record our own soundtracks and record hours and hours of music. Then we go back and we listen,” Schatzberg says. “We’d say, ‘Oh that’s cool,’ and write a song from that 10 seconds of music.”
Perhaps more than anything else, the multimedia production serves to build community and blur the lines between performer and audience. “As we were dreaming up this whole live-art thing, we were thinking, ‘How many disciplines can we get involved with what we’re doing?’” says Schatzberg. “When we go to the universities and perform, we’re not just bringing in visual artists; we want dancers to come out and maybe even choreograph some stuff, and engineers with the lights, and all these different things to bring the community and the minds together, so we can see what can happen when you put all these crazy things in a blender.”
WorldLine with Tin Foil Hat and dep
Isis Restaurant & Music Hall, isisasheville.com
Saturday, May 24, at 8 p.m. $8 advance/$10 at the door