What do you do after you’ve been in Ride, Hurricane #1, Oasis and Beady Eye? Release a collection of songs that sit in the middle of Venn diagram featuring synthwave, electronica, techno, krautrock and Balearic vibes that’s what.
This is exactly what Andy Bell has done. It’s a brave move, but one that has paid off as his debut solo album ‘Dissident’, under the GLOK moniker, is a gentle monster that pulls you in with hypnotic melodies, laidback breakbeats and devastating synths.
The opening track pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the album. After a barrage of feedback/synths ‘Dissident’ gets locked in a groove. Once Bell has this in place he gracefully introduces guitars, synths and loops. Some of these motifs appear for just a few moments, whereas as others are there for the long haul. The interesting bit is the neither outstay their welcome and after they’ve left, you party miss their inclusion, but also forget they even happened as the song is now skewing in a different way, but throughout is that devastating, droney, melody that bores down into you and gets lodged in your brain, and psyche.
‘Kolokol’ and ‘Pulsing’ follows this blueprint by laying down firm rhythmic roots, then getting all ethereal with the synths. At times there is an element of whimsy to the proceedings, but this is fleeting and it’s back to the coalface of deep grooves and catchy synth loops. At times the songs mutate into classic acid house and Detroit techno, but once Bell has got his point across the hazily drift back to their gorgeous grooves. Only ‘Cloud Cover’ hints at his previous life, as it features delicate an acoustic guitar, before swells of droney faux-psychedelic synths wash over it.
‘Dissident’ is a collection of songs that showcases Bell’s ear for melody and tone. It works best if you just go with the music and let it carry you where it wants to go. If you try and fight against it you’ll just end up with a headache and a feeling of frustration. As with the best of Ride, and his other projects, the songs are filled with layers of sounds that help create emotion and feeling.
At first some songs feel impregnable dissonant and a wall of noise, title track ‘Dissident’ for example, but after repeat plays you realise that there are subtle motifs happening under the surface and once you latch on to them, the album opens up and becomes a kaleidoscopic wonder that unveils more with each new listen.
This is an album that feels opposite to everything Bell has ever released. It’s an album that shows he’s more than the bassist in Oasis and that bloke from Ride. ‘Dissident’ will cement Bell as a musician, and producer, who is capable to telling his stories using synths and loops as well as a guitar and vocals.
Going back to Ride and Hurricane#1 after listening to GLOK you can hear the origins of this album, notably on ‘Rising Sign’ and the outro of ‘Stand in Line’, and then it hits you that this is the album Bell has always tried to make, but never had the opportunity, or nerve.
And that’s when you realise that the title isn’t just a clever word; it is in opposition to everything that he has released before.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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