Multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, and songwriter, Charlie Hall, will release his debut solo album, Invisible Ink, on May 12th via El Triángulo Records. The nine-song LP explores lush, entrancing, and hypnotic cinematic soundscapes that feature performances from artists and friends from all over the globe. The title of each song evokes a physical place that inspired its composition. Invisible Ink was written by Hall, produced together with Quinn Lamont Luke, and is one of the inaugural releases on Luke’s El Triángulo imprint.
In addition to Hall, musicians lending their talent to the album include Chicago’s James Elkington (Tweedy, Joan Shelley, Steve Gunn), Sweden’s Thomas Hedlund (Phoenix), Norway-based Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie), Richmond’s Brian Jones (Slang Sanctuary, Agents Of Good Roots) and Daniel Clarke (k.d. lang), LA’s Frally Hynes (Venus & the Moon) and Crisanta Baker (Lo Moon), North Carolina-based Rosali Middleman, Montreal’s Andrew Barr (The Barr Brothers, Feist, The Slip), and hometown collaborators Dan Matz (Windsor for the Derby), James Lavino (Fellwalker), and of course The War On Drugs family - including Dave Hartley, Robbie Bennett, and Eliza Hardy Jones.
“What started out as a very solitary process, ended up being an exercise in love, generosity, and collaboration,” says Hall. “Each song began as a feeling, and I would lay out the harmonic palette, modal structure, and form. I wanted each tune to be its own little sonic universe and then see what it is that connects everything.”
“Throughout my entire life, music has been the connective tissue of my relationships,” he continues. “For as long as I can remember, going back to elementary school, my favorite thing to do every year would be to put a band together for the battle of the bands - to pick tunes, to get to know people in a new way through jamming. To this day one of my favorite things to do is to bring people together in the name of music. I’m endlessly fascinated by group dynamics and harmony - in music and in life. Harmony is about combinations and vibrations. Vibrations of sound."
“Once these songs got into the hands of trusted collaborators/loved ones, suddenly, those vibrations permutated and everything was in vivid technicolor. Not totally unlike when that house that was once in Kansas lands and you see the door open for the first time. And to have had the opportunity to bring nine different combinations of people who have encouraged and inspired me throughout my life to help me see these tunes gestate has been a dream.”
Invisible Ink kicks off with the reverb drenched groove of “Montcalm.” “When I lived in San Francisco (on Montcalm Street), the sun would pour in through the windows of our apartment every afternoon, creating the warmest glow you could imagine,” explains Hall. “I was getting really into open tunings at the time and this song was an expansion of a figure that I would play in that light almost like a mantra.”
The driving “First & First” takes its name and vibe from Hall’s time in the NYC recording studio working on the album’s initial tracks, and is followed by the haunting “Midas Bus to Tromsø.” “When working on “Mystic, CT,” Chris Walla made this beautiful tape loop from fragments of the song, and I was so blown away that I used it as the basis of this track. “Midas Bus to Tromsø” and the subsequent Rhodes piano-inspired, “Mystic, CT” are sonic bookends.
The electronic drumbeat of “Meet Me at Fagan’s” is uplifted by the steady rhythm of Hall’s acoustic guitar. “Robbie Bennett and I had an epic day in Sheffield a few years back running around with Richard Hawley’s crew. After seeing all the sites - Truelove’s Gutter, Cole’s Corner, Hollow Meadows, we ended up having an incredible hang at Fagan’s, Richard’s hometown local. This song is all about friendship and lifting each other up. The players on this song - Robbie, James (Elkington), Tony (Goddess, of Papas Fritas) - these are a few of my favorite people in the world.”
“Saint Albans” was born after a walk through the garden block behind Hall’s house in Philadelphia (the same one from The Sixth Sense) and “North Henry” grew out of the songwriter’s love of the timbre found on the CR-78 drum machine and the Yamaha CP-70 piano. “To me it’s got one of the most evocative tones. I love using delays to take a pattern and turn it into something new.”
Hall began composing “Crockett’s Cove” in the woods on a family vacation to Deer Isle, ME. Surrounded by the beauty of the natural world, the songwriter enthuses, “Daniel Clarke’s B-3 gave the song some real grit, and then the dream team rhythm section of Dave Hartley and Thomas Hedlund took this to a place I never even dreamed of.”
The album concludes with the ethereal, “Tamarama.” “This was the last one to come about. I had just gotten a Strat, which is a wildly different instrument than a Telecaster or a Jazzmaster. I have developed this sort of ‘poor man’s Harold Budd’ signal chain with my piano, and I wanted to put those two flavors into a song to convey the feeling of buoyancy and warmth. I ended up locking in on this groove and to be honest, would be happy to make an entire record of this one jam. Dave, Dan, and Frally put their spirits on there and helped to make this my favorite song on the record.”
“Charlie and I have been friends and musical collaborators for over 20 years,” says co-producer and El Triángulo label head, Quinn Lamont Luke. “It always seemed a bit strange to me that someone who is so talented, so musical, and someone capable of playing multiple instruments well had never made their own, original music. Knowing Charlie, I had an instinct that he just needed the right time and opportunity to feel good about going for it. I wanted to provide that for him. As anyone who knows Charlie well knows, Charlie is a ‘giver,’ always doing what he can to help others out and create those same types of 'right times' and 'opportunities.”
“The timing corresponded with my own desire to step into a role as a producer more, as the destination/retreat center/recording studio in Mexico that my wife and I had been building was on the horizon of being a reality,” continues Luke. “This is the birthing of a new musical dimension of a long-time multi-instrumentalist and supporting cast member. You’re witnessing the unfolding of a fresh creative spirit!”
“This record is a series of conversations between friends," says Hall. “I hope the music can transport listeners to some of the places that inspired these songs and gave them their titles and communicate how those places and my memories of them make me feel: pensive, pastoral, adventurous, radiating warmth. I want this music to be the kind that listeners want to make their own, connecting them with their own special places and feelings and times, soundtracks to their own stories. I want it to be generous. One of the things that I’ve learned is the realization that in order to write songs, you simply just need to try.”
Charlie Hall is a Grammy-winning artist who is a seminal member of The War On Drugs and The Silver Ages, and producer of the 2022 Billboard-charting album, A Philly Special Christmas. He has led multiple bands through thoughtful and faithful recreations of some of the most difficult music Miles Davis ever produced. He has backed Tommy Guerrero, Windsor For The Derby, Jens Lekman and a myriad singer-songwriters, has sat in on innumerable jam sessions, and has done it all with panache, generosity and positivity.
He will play select dates in celebration of Invisible Ink, will perform with The War On Drugs and The Silver Ages, and continue to orchestrate musical collaborations, wherever and whenever they may be found.
Quinn Lamont Luke has collaborated and worked with an extended network of DJs and musicians that includes Shawn Lee, Groove Armada, Tommy Guerrero, Darondo, Bryan Ferry, Marcos Valle, Phil “Cantoma” Mison, Paul “Mudd” Murphy, Psychemagik, Vetiver, Dianne Birch, No Doubt, Frank Dukes, the extended Daptone Family, and Alex From Tokyo. Luke splits his time between New York and Mexico.