Alt Citizen Feature

Psychically Ill: A tribute of words for Tres Warren



Clouds of fuzz He sits on. Thump of kick drum, drone of analog keys, give way to the gospel choir, and a river of wah guitars of simplistic pleasure — pass the tea of another time, please — find a road filled with shadows — don’t turn away, four pencil drawn skulls are laughing for unknown dimensions, shining brightly.

Psychic Ills are a band whose repertoire doesn’t include a song that isn’t “cool” (though many of their tunes transcend past this overused, yet elusive description of rock music). Because of this fact, Tres Warren and the Ills intrigued me from the “get-go” when I arrived to lay roots in NYC. I recall hearing Elizabeth Hart’s warm bass sliding amidst synthscapes and swirling head-pans of Tres, and saying to myself: “This is the music I wanted to find in this city.” They had enough sleaze mixed with a true understanding of sonic layering and instrumentation. Warren’s subtle vocal style is welcome in any listener’s home, as well as pleasant on ears exposed to the loud and live. Likewise, I enjoyed his project, Compound Eye (I scored an attractive copy of that vinyl which spat forth some great sound explorations, similar in-nature to Fripp and Eno’s ambient LPs (minus Fripp).

I was fortunate to have several interactions with the man, though all were flawed in one way or another. I was asked to DJ records for an Ills show at Union Pool, BK and my needles got busted on the way. I had to resort to a friend’s iPod filled almost solely of Lee Hazelwood (not awful, but redundant.) I drank too much and made an odd display of records I was going to play (some great Iggy and Link Wray bootlegs.) Tres walked up to the booth, gave me a chuckle, a nice try, and a pat on the back. Good guy. He also emailed me instructions on the best way to go about releasing physical music for my own band. Much appreciated.

Our last meeting was at Coyote Club, BK. Tres stood watching me dance like a fool with my partner Lia, whilst he was shrouded in darkness, calm, stoic, hair slightly in his face as per usual. “Hey come move those hips!” — no reply. I stopped. We chatted a bit about our upcoming albums. In no way did I assume this was the last time we’d ever meet in-person. A few weeks later (amidst Covid-19 chaos) I received the unfortunate news, Tres had passed on into infinite Space — a tragedy — too young, too soon. What struck me initially was: this guy is real. The international gang of transcendental electronic songsmiths (already few in numbers) dwindled. “One of us” had left the party, far from being over.

Though this piece may seem brief or relatively cold, so are our waking lives. Be kind to one another. Be thankful for health. Dare to be true. Wherever Tres may have traveled, his music will continue to be spun for a long time. He was honest in his endeavors. His music reflects such. So give another listen. Any of the records, they are all great, you’ll dig em…

A last note. As Burroughs suggested in the 1940’s: It’s possible as we leave our body the brain mutates into a mystical form of electric transference which travels to unknown realms – or we simply perish.

Either way, Tres Warren was a person who aided in mutating our brains in this current state of being. Warren invested his time here to experiment in audio delights, to move listeners into a suspended relaxation; for this, he will be dearly missed.

“Trying to make sense of my life. Going through another change. Going through another change.” TW


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