In 2011, Kali Masi were picking up the pieces and seeing what would fit back together. Individually, they were rebuilding themselves. Their respective bands had imploded, they were desperate to outrun the shell-shock and start over. In a basement in the Chicago suburbs where mildew crept up the wood-paneled walls, Kali Masi began writing their first EP. The band carved out a sonic space between the urgency of the punk and hardcore bands that were our foundation and the Midwestern Emo breeze that was sweeping through their towns at the time. But they wanted to be a counterpoint for the evergreen music scene that thrives in Chicago; to move with the current but never float on the surface. To write as many songs as they could in ways that they hadn’t heard before. So, they dug in their heels and started pushing.
In 2012 Kali Masi released 900 Feet Beneath— a 7-song EP recorded in a basement that made its way around the United States by word of mouth, relentless touring, and bare-knuckle DIY self-promotion. From staple-crested telephone poles to the bowels of Reddit forums, the band blasted Kali Masi anywhere that they could. In 2013 Kali Masi released a 7-inch on Berserk Records titled Things I’ve Learned While Swallowing S Words. With an anthem on the A side and its counterpoint on the B, the band weaved tender vocal lines with deep cello groans over guitar-rock songs that were both self-analytical and straightforward. Their roots sunk deeper and they toured even harder, each time further away and for a longer period of time. The band cut their teeth on month-long stints to both American coasts and stretches of Canada. They wore through tire tread and brake line. They saw sun-soaked sunflower fields and snow-capped mountains. They traversed bad roads, bad shows, good friends and break downs (musical, mechanical and mental). Home began to feel subjective- a mobile, shape-shifting thing that was defined by the people rather than a name on a highway exit sign.
When Kali Masi first got in the van, some of them were barely 18. They started touring as kids and when the wheels stopped spinning they were adults. By 2015 they had seen the entirety of the United States three times over. What began as adventurous had grown into routine. At home, there was a tangible change around them, a wind, and they were looking inside of ourselves to find out what was changing: about them, about their world, their future, and what this band meant. Borrowing from Fugazi (an Instrument is used to make a measurement), they titled this introspective chapter, and what would come to be their first full-length record, Wind Instrument. They worked with Jay Maas, an astounding engineer, musician, and now great friend to make the record. Together, Kali Masi set up camp at the legend-of-punk-lore Atlas Studios in Chicago and put pen to paper, piecing the fragmented parts of the past few years into some songs that they felt made sense of it all.
"It sort of feels like you’re piecing together a mosaic of the parts of your life that you want to keep around," singer/guitarist Sam Porter explains. "Figuring out what fits and using it to sculpt an image of what felt true then and what still feels true now. Little by little, we carve out parts that feel right. As people, we break and grow. Make adjustments along the way. Step back, realize you’re not where you wanted to be, erase, change, break, grow. It’s less about what’s the best and more about what’s most accurate in these moments. The brittle parts often break and the more robust stick around. The colors and curves are gestures at at stories, feelings, relationships and anecdotes. Some parts are flat and grey, others project and are vibrant. The pieces never stop accumulating--a sprawling display of contrast and construction, splintered and expanding until all of the pieces meet.
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