Supermarket Sweep – On Ponzi Bridge by HealeyIsland

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‘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 in May on the WLM 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.

Last Test: Some Middle-Aged Spread

Ok…… this was unexpected. I’ve put together 10 tracks that I’m rather happy with (and 3 I’m not so happy with). The three tracks are going to be released as outtakes on a free (it couldn’t be any other way) ep on the CutMat Bandcamp page.

The album itself has been brought forward. I’d planned on a Spring/Summer release, as I thought it would take much longer to put the tracks together. But, as it’s turned out, I was hit by the noisy music stick and I seem to have produced enough music for an album. About 45 mins worth; which is long enough I think. Too much can outstay its welcome.

So: the album is called ‘Last Test’…it’s got nothing to do with cricket or the formal assessment of high-school pupils. 10 tracks: noise, quieter and more melodic bits, rawk and …erm…roll. I’m going to be sending out previews this week and will release the album on 1st February. It’ll be pay-as-you-want, as per usual, at Dementio13.com. Incidentally, there’s a track called “This Is My Mid-Life Crisis And You’re Listening To It” on there. Make of that what you will.

In the meantime, you can check some early previews here.

As usual, all I ask is that you share, tweet, torrent, tell yer mates.

Peace and love (c/o Ringo Starr)

This Is Progress

So, I’ve recorded some new ‘stuff’.

Eight tracks so far, which seems like a lot considering most of them have been recorded during the last fortnight. But, I’m writing and recording quickly again (my old modus operandi), there’s a sense of urgency about this, for some reason. Not rushed, just adrenaline-fuelled. The mood and pace of the music seems to be equally so.There’s an energy in me at the moment and that seems to be transferring across to the tracks. So, there’s noise, there are melodies, there are crude and heavy-ish beats. There are also a couple of quieter moments so far. There are sequences and ‘live’ instruments and feedback and atmospheres.

I’ve no idea what you wonderful people are going to make of it….it’s not like my last album, that’s certain.

Anyway, as you see from the post below, I’ve shared a few of the tracks already. Six to be exact…….no harm in that I reckon. Especially considering that I’m planning on this album being a fairly long affair….maybe up to 20 tracks. Anyway, it’ll be out in April (probably) and is entitled “Last Test”.

Here’s the widget to save you the effort of scrolling down….’cos that’s how considerate I am.

Not The Shock Of The New

Ok….here are six new tracks…well, recent and, apart from ‘Zenit’, unheard (except by me!). They’re earmarked for the next album but, depending on how many tracks I put together, may not end up making it to the final cut….we’ll see.

The album will be available around mid-April I reckon and is provisionally titled “Last Test”.

Anyhow, I’m sharing:

Cheers.

Share’s Fair

I try to share stuff I’ve done quite regularly. Not only is it a means of  ‘Shameless Self-Promotion’™, but it is also a means of self-gratification….I seriously like it when people get something for nothing. Perverse, isn’t it?

Well, despite (or maybe because of) having no siblings, I do like a good share.

I’m currently making new music…..but there’s not much new stuff which I’ve ‘published’ lately.

So here’s some older stuff you may, or may not, have been aware of; a majority of which can be downloaded for free.

Dementio2013

Hello.

Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.

2012 was pretty eventful, wasn’t it? No? Oh, OK…please yourself. I thought it was a rather good year actually….Personally, it was a blinder: music, work, travel, friends, family…..all was good.
The Olympics were good too.

Anyway, what will 2013 bring? Well, there will definitely be new releases from Cwtch and Dementio13. In fact, I’ve already got the vocal files on my hard disk for at least one new Cwtch song. There will be a new Dementio13 album available in Spring/Summer (date tba)….I have lots of stuff in my head at present: tunes; titles and an album cover. All I’ve got to do is record the damn thing! Can’t wait to get started on it properly……which will probably be around 2pm tomorrow!

In the meantime, here’s a new track which may appear on the new album in a slightly different form. It appears on the album ‘Into The Light’. Dandelion Radio DJ, Mark Whitby has compiled a three ‘disc’ downloadable album of music that’s been played on his show in 2012. All proceeds go to the freedom-of-speech campaign for Pussy Riot.

A Glance Backwards…

As is customary at this time of year, one tends to evaluate, reminisce and review the past twelve months. It’s a pre-requisite for the act of moving forward; hence the tradition of getting all misty eyed about the previous year and then making resolutions about the coming year: I’m going to lose weight; I’m going to work harder/less; I’m going to be more understanding in a relationship; I’m going to devote more time to family & friends; etc.

Well, I’m no exception. I’ve got quite a bit to look back on, musically, from the past year; and I’ve got a fair bit to look forward to.

So, besides the Olympics, economic decline and the impending apocalypse; what happened for Dementio13 in 2012?

I released two albums, both of which I’m very proud of, for a start: “Crash St.” in March and “El Lissitzky” in June were released fairly soon after one another, but had been in the recording and pre-production stage for around six months previously. They were the culmination of everything I’ve done musically during the past 10 years and so, I feel, they were my best work to date. My music’s not to everyone’s taste; some think it’s too diverse, some think it’s not tough/experimental enough, some think it’s too gentle and that’s their prerogative. However, I attempt to find a balance between tunefulness and experimentalism when I record….that’s where I’m at. With these two releases, I tried to do that as well as paying homage to all the music I like and know by the artists that formed my musical tastes. ‘El Lissitzky’ was as much about Factory Records as it was about Russian Constructivism. Here’s my favourite track from ‘Crash St.’:

2012 was also a time to discover new music; by both ‘established’ artists and DIY independents. Suffice to say, that’s a distinction which is fairly irrelevant, as the quality of both categories is indistinguishable from one another. My shortlist (if I was compiling such a thing) would certainly include Matt Stevens and his band The Fierce And The Dead. ‘Guitar heroics’ is a term often used to describe viking-like rock posturing; however, Stevens plays with fluent, sometimes humorous, invention with a knowing wink to rock’s slightly absurdist past. There are also lots of great references to film music and multiple genres which lift this music above rock self-reverence. Another candidate for my fave music of the year must certainly be Colin Robinson of Big Block 454, Churn Milk Joan and Jumble Hole Clough. The latter of these three projects show him to be a masterful exponent of restraint (especially compared to the wonderful Dadaist energy of BB454), creating atmospheres and spaces rather than grooves and noise. Lastly in this short shortlist would be Steve Kelly (aka the now defunkt SK123) in his guises as Macerator and Douglas Deep. Electronic music is a splintered affair…….the sonic possibilities offered by technology often can lead to too many options for the musician. Therefore, it’s often necessary to invent multiple personas to delineate between the stylistic differences of one’s output, as Kelly has done. He employs as much skill in his use of computers, controllers and his sound-palette as the previously mentioned artists do with guitars and effects. Beats are his ouevre, though he is deft at creating atmosphere as well. His music is invigorating, inventive and vastly underrated. All three of these artists have released quality music this year and they’ve also proven to be jolly fine people as I’ve either met, or conversed with them; they’ve also been great supporters of independent music; I can’t recommend them enough.

There are also a handful of people deserving of thanks for their continued support of my own music. The writer and musician Oli Arditi has reviewed and promoted my main releases this year as both Dementio13 and Cwtch. His writing style is rare in that it explores cultural theory in an extremely wordy and eloquent way while conveying a sense of enthusiasm and non-elitism. As music blogs go, it’s as much a lesson in context and structure as it is a review of music; and makes for a refreshing and informative read. Arditi does not treat us as idiots and rather than ‘dumbing down’, he ‘clevers up’! I am now a regular reader of his blog as I know that, even if I have no intention of listening to the music he is writing about, it will always make for an interesting read. Then there’s Dandelion Radio…..what these guys (particularly Mark Whitby and Pete Jackson) have done for my music is immeasurable. In playing to a large and loyal listener-base, Dandelion have helped promote and disseminate independent/DIY music further than any artist on a tight budget could do so. In February and April, I performed two live mixes for Mark and Pete respectively.

Right, I think that covers most bases for now……apologies if I’ve missed you out but time is fairly short and this could turn into quite a tome if I were to mention everyone who has supported my efforts (and there are many of you). I’m adding the finishing touches to Laurence Made Me Cry‘s album mix today. Then I’m off to post it to Jo (who’s been patiently waiting for ages for me to get it ‘right’!). Her album’s out on 11th March 2013 and is thoroughly recommended…I should know as I’m now very familiar with these tracks!

Have a great Christmas and I’ll see you on the other side….

The Gift That Keeps Giving…..

As it’s the time for giving and I’ve been relatively quiet on the ‘making-my-own-music’ front….here’s a free download of a mix I did a while back on my (now gone) Yamaha RM1x. Seventeen minutes of (slightly over-compressed! Which is actually how I wanted it) bleepy, blippy, melodic electronica….play it after Christmas dinner to lull the relatives to sleep! Anyhow, it’s free……

Secondly, I recently recorded a track for Unwashed Territory’s end-of-year charity compilation. It’s exclusively for the compilation album, so no downloads. But I made a little video for it.

Enjoy.

There’s a lot going on for me at present, so I may not get another chance to post here before Christmas….so I’ll wish you all a great Xmas and New Year.

Stay loose!