The Human Experience

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David Block, from the music project The Human Experience, is actually a musician well acquainted with the Discovery Corner. BTRtoday caught up with an old friend to talk about his new album “Embraced,” which hit Bandcamp last June.

Traveling a whopping 300 days out of the year, Block can prove a hard man to get in touch with. It’s a wonder that he somehow managed to find time to record with a new music project, entitled “Gone Gone Beyond.” The members include Block mixing the music, Danny Musengo on vocals, and Paul Weinfield on guitar.

If you are familiar with his work in The Human Experience, then you know Block exhibits a penchant for all that is heavily experimental. The songwriter dubs it “organic electronic music.”

“Combing electronic and organic instrumentation is definitely an art form,” Block tells BTRtoday. “There’s a way to do it and make it sound good, without it sounding separate.”

Gone Gone Beyond is undoubtedly still electronic, but its roots belie a very different feel. It hearkens to blues inspirations like Otis Redding and features a myriad of musical instruments.

Musengo and Block joined forces at a musician meet-up project entitled “21.” The event provided an opportunity for musicians who never met to collaborate and create completely improvised music on the spot.

The two clicked so naturally that Musengo pulled Block aside and told him that, if he were to work with him on an album, Musengo would find a musician for any type of musical element Block desired; whether it be Brazilian flute players or an entire horn orchestra, Musengo would find them in New York City.

“It’s evolved into this thing where it’s basically catalyzed me moving to NYC, because I love this project so much,” Block says. “NY is just great, because it’s a super mecca concentration of anything that you could ever want in anything artistically, especially in music.”

Block was originally from the suburbs, sheltered from most of the outside world. He confesses that he was not always so keen on traveling.

“I was like a lot of Americans who are afraid of the world, because they just don’t know,” Block expresses. “Where we only know what we’re told and what we watch on the news and that’s just not how a lot of the world is.”

He says he decided to move when he was only 21-years-old after he experienced the death of his best friend. During that hardship he realized he was tired of trying to be what everyone around him said he was.

“When he died, I was like, ‘fuck that! No. I’m going to make my own life,’” Block says.

Photo courtesy of Martha Hartney.

So he moved to Costa Rica. He admits that the shift in environment was terrifying at first. He believed Costa Rica was dangerous, in fact, he believed any place other than the U.S. was dangerous. (“By the way that is not true,” Block is quick to clarify).

After a series of travels that included Nicaragua, Guatemala, and India, Block arrived at the arrestingly sublime realization that the world is actually a beautiful and inherently peaceful place.

“I was like, ‘oh my god, the world is much different than I thought!’–and then I had the travel bug,” he says. “But it took a while. It was really scary at first.”

While in India he lived the extreme bohemian lifestyle: busking on the streets, walking around barefoot, and even sometimes living in places with no running water.

“I was the biggest barefoot wondering hippy you’ve ever met,” he laughs.

After moving back to the U.S., Block started making waves with his new music. He was invited back to India to play a large festival, called Vasundhara Festival, which caters to environmental arts and music. He was ecstatic to be granted the opportunity to return to a place where he could rediscover himself as a confident musician, an event that catapulted him to where he is now in his life.

“To get invited back to play at this incredible festival, it’s pretty off the hook,” Block says. “I got to spend some time there exploring and reconnecting with a lot of the people that I hung out with many years before.”

Block’s heart has a special connection to India. He recounts a story where he had to travel from India, to Boston, then back to India to play shows.

He gave himself a three-day buffer to make it from playing a show in India to his show in Boston. Unfortunately, his direct flight from India got cancelled. He had to go through reverse immigration–which Block likens to sounding like a painful sexual passion.

Instead, he had to fly out of Abu Dhabi to Holland where he endured a 15-hour layover. He used that time to party with a friend. From Holland he hopped a flight to New York, where his flight was cancelled due to snow. Instead, he boarded a train from New York to Boston, where he arrived only two hours prior to show time.
Photo courtesy of David Block.

He then returned to New York to record all of “Gone Gone Beyond” within four days, 15-hours a day. With practically zero hours of sleep, Block then hopped onto a flight from NY that went to China, then Singapore, and ended up in Bali where he played a show the next day.

All this happened within a one-week span.

“Yeah, that was a crazy week,” Block says in a surprisingly causal tone. “It goes like that occasionally, but I love traveling. I love spontaneity! It’s kind of what fuels me.”

As a man who travels a couple thousand hours out of the year, it’s obligatory to be accustomed to these types of traveling adjustments. He confesses to having a lot of time to think and meditate, whether it’s up in the air or speeding down a rail, the time to himself is empowering.

His first fully live set with Gone Gone Beyond will be March 26th at The House Of Yes, in Brooklyn, NY. He claims it will be a “raging dance party.”

Also, as part of his philosophy, all of his music is available for download on Bandcamp at a pay-what-you-like fee.

“That’s kind of my mission: to get music into the hands of everyone,” Block says. “If you want the music for free then you can have it and share it with other people.”

To hear the rest of the interview, tune into this week’s episode of The Discovery Corner.