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Vanderwolf Debuts Surreal Video for Psychedelic Ballad “The 6.09”

In those fluorescent-blazed warrens of glass and steel that pierce our urban landscapes, countless zombies tread the worn carpets of the corporate realm, shackled by the invisible chains of the…

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In those fluorescent-blazed warrens of glass and steel that pierce our urban landscapes, countless zombies tread the worn carpets of the corporate realm, shackled by the invisible chains of the gossamer dreams of late capitalism. Here, in this meticulously orchestrated maze, the hours stretch interminably, punctuated only by the relentless hum of machines and the muted despair of its denizens. Each day unfolds as a Sisyphean ordeal, where ambition is both the carrot and the stick, driving the cogs in the workforce towards ever-distant horizons of success. Amidst the sterile fluorescence, the human spirit flickers, caught in the ceaseless pursuit of a fulfillment perpetually deferred.

All this hell for a sliver of hard-earned heaven? Vanderwolf thinks – nay, knows so. The artist, who wound his way from NYC to LA, unveils a futuristic folk treatise on trials of work: The 6.09, the latest single from his upcoming album The Great Bewilderment, set for release on March 13th.

In The 6.09, Vanderwolf’s vocals take flight, weaving through acoustic verses to deliver a poignant critique of contemporary society, all within the framework of a psychedelic-folk-rock ballad. Vanderwolf finds keen allies in Billy Bragg, Heaven 17, Anne Clark and Midnight Oil in sentiment, but their earnest neofolk sound hearkens back all the way to Phil Ochs and Led Zeppelin.

Accompanying the song is a music video crafted by Alden Volney, featuring a sequence of animations that embark on a dark and twisted journey. It is wryly dark, with imagery of a head trapped in a rotating box, MC Escher-esque loops, and the false cheeriness of social media trying to sell your own dopamine back to you. Strangely satisfying, indeed.

Watch the video for “The 6.09” below:

“The Great Bewilderment is a complexly layered reflection of my recent years courting chaos and rootlessness, arriving, leaving, settling and unsettling,” says Vanderwolf. “It’s a collection of interweaving hellos and goodbyes. It’s about leaving certain things behind and, conversely, claiming those things that can be known in the here and now. It’s about coming to terms with a sense of place — after a long period of exile and some self-imposed restlessness. Finally, it is about what can be known. And what can be appreciated as truly valuable in this world despite the bewildering context of war and mass extinction.”

Vanderwolf’s acclaimed 2021 solo debut, 12 Little Killers, saw the native New Yorker roam around garage rock, glam, Americana, psych and blues with the vocals willfully varied. Here, his scope is generally more epic. Vanderwolf remains an explorer, but The Great Bewilderment finds him more focused, despite his wide-ranging vision. While the former album was written and recorded during Vanderwolf’s final years in London following the break-up of his former band Last Man Standing, The Great Bewilderment’s eight songs were mostly written or recorded during the pandemic.

12 Little Killers grew out of restlessness, personal mistakes and chaos, much of which continued into the pandemic: I lost a friend and mentor in (record producer) Hal Willner, my father died and I never lived anywhere for more than a few months.’’

Parallel to his work as a musician, Vanderwolf has enjoyed a hugely successful career as a music programmer and concert producer: for 9 years he produced the Meltdown Festival.

Facing another New York winter where infection rates were rising, the promise of LA was irresistible. ‘’When I came out to LA and began rehearsing and recording, much of that chaos subsided. LA allows you to enjoy the illusion of paradise. And in the height of the pandemic — that illusion was nurturing.’’

With a fresh batch of songs ready to be rehearsed, Vanderwolf worked with drummer Angie Scarpa, guitarist Dusty Meadows, and bassist H Chris Roy.

Pre-save The Great Bewilderment LP, out 13 March, here. had a few questions to ask of Vanderwolf, who talked about his nomadic past, the music video, and hopes for the album.

1. You’ve spent much of your life in London and New York, however, this record was made primarily in Los Angeles. Did recording in a new location change your approach, or influence the record’s sound in any way?
Yes – it undoubtedly influenced the record in ways that are often quite mysterious — and that’s part of the inexplicable and elusive magic of  LA or California — and definitely, of Laurel Canyon.

But there were also some impactful elements that can be explained. I moved to LA during the pandemic — after NYC became an increasingly unattractive scenario. So in some ways I was seeking  refuge. These were tender times for everyone. Just gathering with friends required caution. Gathering friends to make music was practically a political act. It both engaged in and defied some pandemic protocol. Our earliest rehearsals had to be outside. I was living in this weird empty house at the very top of Laurel Canyon in a development called Mount Olympus. It has its own microclimate. The owner of the house was one of the Shah’s of the Sunset Strip Tv show and he’d stash all his equipment and outdoor furniture at this location. Nothing worked. It was a mess. But it was on top of a mountain with incredibly expansive views of LA out to the ocean. There was a feeling of space. A feeling of vast possibilities. And there was time. We didnt rush this music. We allowed the arrangement to breathe. We tried out many ideas, made modifications, tried again, wrote new bits, jammed…and this approach carried  into the studio sessions which were in Silver Lake about a year later. Most of what you hear was recorded live.

2. The music video for “The 6.09” sees a collection of repetitive, “satisfying”animations eventually turn dark and twisted. Where did the idea for the video come from, and what was the process of creating it like?

This was my 4th video with Alden Volney and he’s really a kind of genius. I knew I didnt want an illustration of the songs’ lyrics. They tell certain story that I think is quite complete and self-contained. The question was, what can we bring to this story or what kind of different story can we overlay on it. I really had my doubts when he told me his idea. But he really hates those ”relaxation video” — and I could see why they were disturbing to him. And if we could show the complacency they inspire– as a kind of  drug– I thought we might have something. So I really let him get on with the work. The only thing I asked him to do was add more emphasis to the dark and twisted section of the song….it needed to be darker and more twisted.
3. What do you hope your audience takes away from your upcoming record, The Great Bewilderment?

There’s a long list of possible  take-aways. First of all its 45-minutes of music so what I primarily hope is that people will listen to it as an album. I know that’s a rare thing these days. People will watch their favorite  Netflix series for 115 hours of their lives But these days music doesn’t seem to garner an audience’s attention for long. The album doesnt sit in any genre-specific territory so it’s best heard as a composite…and as a journey..or an epic film. As far as themes, there’s a lot to take away…themes of complacency, confusion, bewilderment all contributing to a kind of  paralysis. The song, Gaza, arguably the centerpiece of the album, was written long before the middle-east conflict erupted into this disgusting war. It depicts an inability to connect with political struggles and failures of public policy that lead to the kind of  wars we see now. Back when I wrote it, most people couldn’t find  Gaza on a map. The many years of neglect and our inability to recognise the plight of Gaza was so clearly going to be complicit in the explosion of this current conflict. And this is true for countless other places in the world also suffering from this same kind of  neglect. The song could have easily been titled, Haiti, or the Democratic Republic of  Congo. So maybe there is an opportunity for people to address their own sense of  bewilderment about the world. Other than that,  there’s a lot of  love and loss on this record. Who can’t relate to that?

The Great Bewilderment will be available via all DSPs on March 13th.

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