Mosley Wotta (sort of) releases “Wake”

Monday, June 21st, 2010, 2:03 pm by Ben Salmon

Hand-made artwork for Mosley Wotta's 'Wake' arranged on his kitchen table. Photo by Ben.

As you may have heard, local MC / poet / painter / etc. Mosley Wotta (aka Jason Graham) released a very limited run of his new album, “Wake,” at last Thursday’s Last Band Standing. I talked to Graham and got a sneak preview of the album on Wednesday, but decided not to post about it last week due to my concerns about showing any favoritism toward an artist before an LBS performance.

Not that he needs my help when it comes to promotional power. Make no mistake, Graham’s decision to put together hand-made, art-laden “Wake” CDs for LBS wasn’t a happy coincidence. The idea was to draw folks in and hope that those folks voted for Mosley Wotta. It worked; Graham and his new live band (Colten Tyler/guitar, Aaron Miller/keys, Jason Schmidt/drums, Thomas T./bass) packed Boondocks with the biggest crowd of the night and won enough votes to move on to the finals on July 1.

There were other motivations for doing this, though. For one, Graham is an artist, not only musically, but visually, too. He spent much of last week in the mad scientists’ lair basement of his west-side home, carefully cutting out interesting images from a wide range of magazines and books (he drew special inspiration from books on underwater life and American Indians) and taping those images onto cardboard CD cases. To keep them together, he laminated each CD. He told me Friday that he made around 25 copies and sold them all.

From his Facebook invitation to Thursday’s show (emphasis added by me):

Each individual cover is a unique collage piece containing 16 tracks including songs: “BOOM FOR REAL”, “SMOKE” and “ROll On BYe” . FEAR NOT You will of course be able to buy the album in its homogenized form or online but, FIRST THINGS FIRST. GOTTA MAKE ART!

The other reason for the hand-made run, I think, is Graham’s own unique mix of patience and impatience. “Wake” has been a long time coming; when I wrote this long profile of him two and a half years ago, he was already working on these songs with an eye toward making an album. Over the past two years, he’s released them in fits and starts — such as the fantastic “Scrap Mettle” EP and a split CD with Cloaked Characters — but for the most part, he’s been patient, hunkered down in the lab and writing, rewriting, recording and rerecording to make sure everything is just right. Now, it is. If you’ve been paying attention to Graham’s releases / live show / MySpace for a while, you’ll recognize many of these songs: “Boom For Real,” “Roll On Bye,” “Smoke,” “Licking Reason,” “Smile Hater Smile” and “Po-Kno-Mo” all make appearances. But there are a few songs I didn’t know, most notably “Consolidate” and “Respite,” both of which are great. (Special shout-out to DJ A-Bomb for that crackling, jazzy “Respite” beat. DOPE CITY.)

The official cover of 'Wake.'

All that said, Graham’s already excited about future releases. Last week, we talked a bit about “Wake,” which he described as a sort of clearing-the-vaults release, intended to collect all his work to this point in one place. But we talked more about “Kink Konk,” Graham’s next album that — if the songs he played for me are any indication — will have a higher production value than “Wake.” (Don’t take that to mean that it will be more pop-influenced, though; check out the twangy vibe of “Front Porch” here.) He even briefly mentioned a third album, but let’s not even go there. Right now, Graham doesn’t yet know when he’ll officially release “Wake,” much less “Kink Konk” and beyond.

Speaking of which, a handful of hand-made copies of “Wake” will not satiate the Mosley masses. Some time this summer, Graham will hold an official CD-release event for the fancy, “homogenized” version of the album. As of last week, when and where had yet to be determined. In the meantime, there are about 25 folks in Bend walking around with a custom-made, advance copy of what may very well be the best local album of 2010.

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