sun 25/10/2020

Album: Andy Bell - The View From Halfway Down | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Andy Bell - The View From Halfway Down

Album: Andy Bell - The View From Halfway Down

The Ride guitarist's solo debut gives us a glimpse of an impressive panorama

Andy Bell - gifted songwriter, talented producer

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions and Lockdown (it has surely earned its capital status) provided its own problems for many of us. For some, however, there was an upside. For people who find themselves powering through when they need to power down, it was a chance to take themselves away from the anxieties, expectations and obligations of the everyday and narrow focus. It was an enforced clarification of our lives - a diktat to breathe.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions and Lockdown (it has surely earned its capital status) provided its own problems for many of us. For some, however, there was an upside. For people who find themselves powering through when they need to power down, it was a chance to take themselves away from the anxieties, expectations and obligations of the everyday and narrow focus. It was an enforced clarification of our lives - a diktat to breathe.

For Andy Bell, Ride guitarist and former member of Oasis and Beady Eye, it was a chance to put the finishing flourishes to a collection of songs that form his first solo album. Sort of.

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 news 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.

@jahshabby

Bell is a gifted songwriter, but here we also get to see his producer’s intellect at work

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