HealeyIsland – ‘On Ponzi Bridge’ Release on 26th March

‘Easy Listening’ and muzak is all around us, isn’t it? We often listen to music as a means of switching-off the world, of blanking out distraction. But music used in malls, supermarkets and hotels is designed to manipulate us, to placate us. As a means of control, it’s fairly innocuous and taken for granted…because it’s been around for decades. Muzak is often cited as shorthand for corporate insincerity and a passive form of mind-control. This shorthand has been used by musicians ever since Eno came up with the notion of ‘ambient music’. Before this, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop developed a form of experimental and reactionary muzak with their bizarre little radio and TV themes, often ‘offending’ more conservative listeners.

Aaanyway, I’m starting to witter. Greg Healey has been making electronic music as HealeyIsland, as far as I know, for as long as I have been making music as Dementio13. His latest offering, the album ‘On Ponzi Bridge’ is released on 26th March on the Flicknife label. However, it is presently streamable on Amazing Tunes, so you can have a proper listen over there.

The album is very, very good; it doesn’t pander to fashion and it contains a depth and imagination in its production and lyricism. Healey’s lyrics tend towards the impressionistic and non-linear, but taken in context of the album, they start to develop a bittersweet narrative; not of relationships (as in songs about love or hate), but of politics, capitalism, image and media. That these lyrics are not polemic, but contain subtle and occasionally surreal juxtapositions and ironies, is a testament to Healey’s fine instinct for wordplay; all delivered in a vocal style that falls somewhere between that of Vini Reilly’s fragile, intimate and understated tenor and that of a nightclub crooner (I know that sounds like a highly unusual mix, but it works very well). The titles of the songs often give an indication of their lyrical content, such as with “Entertainment” and “Ayn Rand Is My Mistress”.

And so, I come full circle, to the music itself. Healey has refined a difficult-to-achieve balance between tunefulness and experimentation over the years and, with On Ponzi Bridge, we find him taking this approach to a logical conclusion. On the opening track, ‘The End Of History’, the introduction sounds like the sort of lulling muzak that accompanies the start of a Wii game (for instance) and the production isn’t jarring for the listener. It lulls you in and then, coupled with the lyrics, starts to unsettle. There is a strong sense that Healey has aimed at an ironic use of muzak as a weapon. The album is quite dark in mood, though not overtly aggressive. At the risk of drawing comparisons, there are elements of Lemon Jelly’s use of ‘easy listening’ to evoke a time and relay a message. Though, as On Ponzi Bridge progresses, it gets inherently darker and the sound slightly more harsh. There are rich synth layers, lush orchestral strings, the occasional electronic squiggle and laid-back beats. The music production is luxurious for a reason, one feels, in order to reinforce the overlying themes of politics, economics and commerce which are suggested by the easy-listening influences and the lyrics.

In conclusion, it’s easy to get carried away with hypothesizing and (possibly) reading too much into the album; but the truth is that, musically, the album stands on its own two feet as a ‘damn good listen’. This is a very individual release from an interesting and adept artist and is thoroughly recommended.

New EP – ‘Vkhutemas Vol. 1′ Now Available

Just a quick post to bring to your attention my new little EP. Five tracks of analogue, bouncy and disjointed electronica. As usual, it’s free or pay-what-you-want over at Dementio13.com.

If you do download, please do let other people know about it on your favourite social networks. Thanks.

If streaming’s your thing, here’s the Soundcloud playlist.

Stay safe.

Disco Graphy

Here’s something which made me very happy the other day. Jeroen Klomp, a regular downloader of my music, has compiled a ‘completist’ discography of everything I’ve recorded and released into the wild (some of them escape of their own volition). It hadn’t struck me that, despite deleting some past releases, occasionally on a whim, other people may still be listening to those tracks, having downloaded them. Well, it seems Jeroen has and continues to do so.

Anyway, here’s the list in full….I’d forgotten about around 30% of them!

ALBUMS, EPs, COMPILATIONS, SINGLES:
1999-2002 Sal Boca (128kbps)
2000 – 1999-2000 (compilation)
2002 – 2001-2002 (compilation)
2005 – Anti Static (EP)
2006 – Sub Urbian
2009 – Nita Disaster (EP)
2009 – Blank (EP)
2010 – Plate One (Remastered)
2010 – Shatterbrain
2010 – Rebob
2011 – CutMat Recordings – Auteur-Amateur (compilation)
2011 – Snackshack (EP)
2011 – Vulcan Foundry (EP)
2011 Diebenkorn – Heroes of Scholes Ward (EP)
2011 – Malt (EP)
2011 Diebenkorn – Magnox
2011 – The Hobbyist
2011 – Recall: ‘So’ Remixed (EP)
2012 – Alt-Delete (compilation)
2012 – Themes (soundtrack, compilation)
2012 – Crash St
2012 Diebenkorn – Big Car (EP)
2012 – El Lissitzky
2012 The Reasonable People – Tôn (EP)
2013 – Waxed: Disposable Tracks (compilation, soundcloud)
2013 – Sound Wiped (EP)
2013 – Last Test
2013 – Short Circus
2013 – Know Your Place (single)
2013 – Imperial Decimal
2013 – A Quit Suburban Corner
2013 – Download & Throwaway (compilation, soundcloud)
2014 – VTOL
2014 – These Haunted Spaces (soundcloud, 320)
2014 – Here Come The Rejects (Tanzwuth Rejects, soundcloud)
2014 Wint & Kidd – wkep-I (EP)
Spacek Cadet (128kbps)
Archive: Selected Tracks 2003-2008 (not all tracks, because available on above mentioned releases, 128)
CWTCH:
2008 – Pixiegraf
2008 – Pixiegraf Reworked
2009 – Cwtch
2009 – City To City
2010 – be.ep
2010 – 04:10
2011 – Olive Walls
2011 – Beyond Transgression
2012 – Silver
2012 – Silver (Max Waves remix)
2013 – Song
OTHER:
Firesuite (original by Doves)
Sundex
Prick
Roseyglo (Revoiced)
Tarantula
Caliban (rough mix)
On The Beat Of A Breath (feat. Marie Craven) (rough mix)
Freestyle Style 1
FreeStyle Style 2
Laurence Made Me Cry – Intelligent Mister Toad
Laurence Made Me Cry – Intelligent Mister Toad V2 (Dementio13 Remix)
Laurence Made Me Cry – This Evening
REMIXES:
Colonics – Perspephone (Dementio13 Remix)
Matt Stevens – Big Sky (Dementio13 Remix)
Tara Busch – Motorcrash (Dementio13 Remix)
Phoenix – Trying To Be Cool (Dementio13 Remix)
Dementio13 – Alcohol (with Snippet) Paul’s White Russian Mix
Decabastard – Decabastard (Dementio13’s Wall of Dementia Mix)
Paul Giovanni & Magnet – Willow’s Song (Dementio13 Reconstruction)
Pinklogik – Playing With Sticks (Dementio13 Remix)
Corrientes – Everything Feels So Right (Dementio13 mix)
Corrientes – Everything Feels So Right (with Dementio13) (EV mix)
Northcape – Red Panda (Dementio13 Remix)
Northcape – Arrive Ruttledge Col (Dementio13 Remix)
The Peach Tree – All This Is Real I Hope (Dementio13’s Paranoid Normal Mix)
MIXES, SESSIONS:
Sequenza Mix
Dandelion Radio Sessions: Oct. 2010, Feb. 2012, March 2012, Feb. 2014 (with Nita Disaster)
Dementio Live Mix 2008
MonoStereo Mix: 1. Eclectica, 3. WARP Records, 4. Mo’Wax Records

Thanks Jeroen! I’m humbled and a little embarrassed that I’ve not been quite as fastidious keeping tabs on my own releases!

Also, here’s a really nice review of the Wint & Kidd ep……thanks to the ever erudite Oliver Arditi for that.

“it doesn’t really matter how you make the sounds, if they come out as deep and as immersive as these. Even the grinding overdriven bass in ‘three’ comes out as smooth as silk and as sweet as honey in these deft, masterful hands.”

(Click on text to read the full review)

Finally, here’s a little taster of some new stuff….it’s free to download as is most of the stuff on my Soundcloud.

Cheers.

Pixicast 14 – MonoStereo
Dandelion Radio Sessions: Oct. 2010, Feb. 2012, March 2012, Feb. 2014 (with Nita Disaster)
Dementio Live Mix 2008
MonoStereo Mix: 1. Eclectica, 3. WARP Records, 4. Mo’Wax Records
Pixicast 14 – MonoStereo

That’s The Sound Of Silence You Hear.

I’ll be honest, I’ve not got much to say. In fact I’ve been keeping a very low profile on social media overall recently. Just the occasional inconsequential tweet, or whatever, about banal stuff or supposed ‘new tracks’ which I’ve been inevitably unhappy with after living with them for a few days. I’ve mainly posted because I feel that I should occasionally touch base with those people who I befriended on various platforms, who I share interests with, who are funny and who have sometimes turned out to be collaborators and jolly decent people.

I originally joined Facebook and Twitter and laterly Ello ( hello?) to promote my music, but ended up engaging with people who I could happily have a pint with. Thus, the half-arsed electronic music cliche of being the aloof anonymous producer/mad scientist was eroded!

But with little music of any note being produced since the last album and a work schedule which is high-pressure and all-consuming; I literally don’t have much to say (except to say that I don’t have much to say!). I also seem to be returning my attention to past releases and occasional minor victories.

Anyway, I’ve decided to let music take more of a front seat again. Time-management and focus will see me making tunes again. It’s a need. And due to life commitments, I’ve let it slip; thus creating a gap, where I couldn’t vent my (limited) imagination. I should have more will-power, so now I’m gonna exert that and get on with it. I have the luxury of being so, er…. ‘niche’, that I can take as long as I want. But this is a bit of a handicap as well, as it means I also have more time to procrastinate. Having no deadline is the worst possible thing for me.

So, anyway, that’s why I’ve been quiet: work and ‘other stuff’.

I’m glad to say that my ever-growing and more refined studio is just about finished and ready for action. I’ve acquired some kit which I used to own in the early days which facilitated some intuitive ways of working, but I had to get rid of them when times were hard or I wanted to ‘upgrade’. These bits of kit (classified as being inbetween ‘vintage’ and ‘brand-new’) have given me new zest. It would be simple enough to knock out some tunes in Ableton, as I know that well. But I want to do things differently as I’ve been tending towards working to a formula. I need to shake it up.

So, if you’re interested….expect some new tracks, no proper previews until release time, a streamlined and rationalised Soundcloud profile and, yes, more silence on soc-net!

Soundcloud will be used for free downloads of session tracks, unreleased stuff, etc so I’ll be taking down all the old album tracks and remixes which are available for sale elsewhere.

Anyway, self-indulgent ramble over. Hope you’re all well and enjoying stuff.

Fate(al) Memory Loss

I’m not a believer in fate. “Fate” denotes that we concede control over our lives, that “whatever will be, will be”, that we cannot accept responsibility as the responsibility is not ours. So, if I was a believer in fate, I would believe that the fact that my synthesisers have decided to lose every track I’ve recorded for the next album recently is actually a strange quirk of chance. I’m not and I don’t.

The fact is that I think when loading a new set of tracks and sounds on two of my little boxes, I think I’ve inadvertently saved the previous tracks and sounds to a new file, which I cannot now find. The intricacies of digital memory and idiosyncratic hardware are sometimes beyond me. Several words spring to mind….all of which consist of asterisks.

Luckily, I had recorded the music, as in audio, as rough mixes. So at least I still have the audio. Reconstructing the tracks will be a right old ball-ache for sure.

The other thing “fate”, as a concept, is good for is seeing the positive side: “It was meant to be, see it as a new beginning. Fate has handed you a new opportunity, etc.” Well, despite being relatively upbeat about it, I don’t think it’s a positive, I assure you.

Maybe I should go buy a ukulele, it wouldn’t hide my music away in some corner. That’s the trouble with technology.

So, 2015; what will it be all about. Well, pretty much the same as 2014 in that I’ll be trying to re-record the aforementioned tracks, refining and improving as I go. The tracks I’ve sent my collaborators can still be used, but they may sound a bit different when they come out ‘the other end’ of the production process. That would’ve probably happened anyway, to be honest. On my last album, ‘VTOL’, an album of many collaborations, one or two tracks started as one thing, went off to collaborators and when they came back it was obvious my music hadn’t done the collaborator’s contributions justice. So, I re-structured the tracks from the ground up (i.e. a complete re-write) to fit the other musician’s input.

Anyway, the goal for 2015, in the short term, is to finish the album by the Spring. It may take longer.

In other news, Marie Craven has been making some lovely montage videos to accompany readings of poetry which, in several cases has included snippets of my music as a backing. In the absence of WordPress embeds on Vimeo, here’s a link to the latest http://vimeo.com/115796426

While visiting family over the Christmas break, I found myself recording one afternoon using my trusty OP-1 (I take it virtually everywhere with me; well, you never know when you’ll get the urge!)

op1-1_3225

This is what I came up with. A glitchy, unquantized, free-form ad-hoc cut-up slice of beatiness. It’s free if you want it to download. Loose loops and riffs recorded on a virtual 4-track tape recorder with all the timing idiosyncrasies, mistakes and human-ness included. The vocal snips were recorded on the OP-1’s built-in FM radio (yeah!) and then mapped to the keyboard, arpeggiated and played on the fly. I like it anyway….

So, that’s all for now. Enjoy the remnants of your cake.

A Vat Of Seasonal Cheer

I hope all the Winter festivities are going well for you and you’re fully ensconced in the spirit with family and friends. It’s a time for excess, I guess; it’s a time for making merry with the people you care about and sharing music, art and words. So, I hope that’s all good.

As is the norm, I’ve been reflecting on a few things I’ve done this year musically, etc. The last few months have been busy in an unwanted way and I’m still struggling to balance my work-life (as in “the day job”) with my life as a musician, but I endeavour to try harder in 2015.

There have been a few changes on my music store. The most noticeable being that all my music is now free for the time being. This has been mainly prompted by a change in EU tax law which requires individuals selling digital products in the EU to register for VAT. Independent artists vending through a third-party store are apparently exempt but, in the case of Bandcamp (where my music resides), things are a bit ambiguous at present. To be honest, I earn so little from my music, that I don’t think it’s going to impact on me too much; and, if I’m totally honest, I don’t really understand it all! However, I realise that it will have a massive effect on ‘bigger-selling’ independent artists who rely on this income to survive as musicians, as their ambitions get larger and costs rise. All this, and the extra burden of filling in complicated paperwork, etc.

Anyway, why we all wait for Bandcamp to clarify the situation ( it’s looking increasingly likely that they will establish a system which supports the artist regarding VAT later in the year), I’m taking no chances and have set my phazers to “free”.
So, you can go to Dementio13.com and help yourself. All I ask in return is an email address to pester every 3 months or so with news, etc, and I ask that you share the music on social media with links and embeds.

New music is on the way, but won’t be released until the Bandcamp thing is sorted. It is nowhere near finished anyway!

Anyway, am just touching base, between ingesting lovely food and intoxicating liquor.
I hope you’re having a great time and wish you loads of happiness for 2015.
Enjoy.