Ride guitarist, GLOK producer, and all-round gent Andy Bell returns to his shoegaze roots on a fine new solo album.
Opening in the hazy rush of ‘Loves Come In Waves’, it’s psych-pop inflections lead into the more expansive climes of ‘Indica’ with its hypnotic electronic leanings. Album highlight ‘Cherry Cola’ is a sweet summer hymn, a neat Beta Band style jammer, while ‘Skywalker’ utilises that familiar Neu! rhythm in a startlingly direct guitar pop format.
At a mere eight tracks ‘The View From Halfway Down’ is a succinct solo statement, but there’s lots to explore, from the simplicity of 120 second miniature ‘Indica’ through to languid finale ‘Heat Haze On Weyland Road’. An artist who scarcely slows, Andy Bell offers a fine blend of psych-pop, folk finger-picking, and home made electronics, all within the familiar confines of his shoegaze day job. More, please.
Dissident, an album recorded under his nom de plume, Glok, saw the light of day in 2019 to much acclaim, and serves as a useful marker in many ways for this latest release. Like much of his electronic output, The View From Halfway Down, contains compositions that feel like songs, but are steeped more in the exploration of sound than conventional storytelling. Mostly, they fall somewhere between Bell’s carefully crafted, Krautrock-infused dance and the joyful abandon of Ride’s colossal shoegaze noise. It’s a lovely place to be.
This middle ground also creates a widescreen canvas on which delicate, stripped-back detail can sit next to wild, expressive colour and the join seem entirely natural. One minute lost in a slow, sombre, contemplative space, the next deep in a shape-shifting, bass-grinding groove with psychedelic shots and saxophones surfing the skies overhead.
While it’s reductive – and untrue – to claim that Bell’s debut is all about that bass, the decade or so he spent in that position for Oasis has certainly left its mark. Often, it’s the lower frequencies that dictate the tone, from the McCartney-influenced runs in “Skywalker”, to “Indica”, with its Gil Scott-Heron imprint, and “Cherry Cola”, which weighs in with a Gainsbourg groove and Pierre Henry heft. Even at its poppiest, the irresistible, hook-filled opener “Love Comes in Waves”, it’s the linear, motorik drive that grabs hardest and carries us along.
Bell is a gifted songwriter, but that’s hardly new to anyone who’s been listening in the last three decades. Here, however, we also get to see his producer’s intellect at work. The dynamic shifts and sonic swerves display impressive range and scope married to a singular vision. It’s this use of colour – tone, texture and ombre that makes “The View From Halfway Down” look very appealing indeed.