The White Stripes claimed they made “Elephant” using only equipment available before 1963; Guy Blakeslee, who records under the name Entrance (pronounced like you’re walking into a room, not falling into a hypnotic state), does them one better. The Baltimore native’s debut, “Wandering Stranger” (Fat Possum), sounds like it was recorded in a studio that would have been antique before World War II. Murky and trebly, played with a quirky delicacy and shambling rhythms, the album is one of the year’s surprise pleasures. Listening to it feels like you stumbled onto some lost blues classic.
For his live set at the Smell, a ramshackle gallery-cum-performance space on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, Blakeslee moved the point of reference from 1920s Delta to ’60s London or San Francisco.
The guitar was plugged in and loud. Fed through various fuzz boxes, flangers and harmonizers, Blakeslee creates a massive guitar sound, an overdriven howl that pins the meters, hovering on the edge of feedback. It’s still all treble — because the bass on both his guitar and amp have been turned down, but also because he’s left-handed and simply turns a standard guitar upside down without restringing it, so the high strings are strummed first.
Drummer Tommy Rouse’s complex, raga-style playing is less interested in keeping a beat than in playing a counterpoint to the guitar. Among their fulsome noise, Blakeslee’s quivery vocals get lost in the shuffle.
If the album’s fragility is nothing more than a memory — at times Entrance plays with the self-indulgence of a lesser psychedelic jam band — more often than not, it’s replaced by a bracing, anarchic blare.