An all-new Art d‘Ecco movement is imminent; defiantly maximalist and nostalgic in style, After The Head Rush is the latest dynamic release from the British Columbia-based audiophile expressionist.
Combining the addictive dazzle and rebellious party of his last album In Standard Definition, with the dizzying effect of what happens in the late-hours once everyone’s gone home, After the Head Rush arrives like a confessional, chock- full of swagger and disarming candor. Infused with belated coming-of-age wisdom it sparks the dawn of a new era – inspired by a move to his hometown and the thrill of rediscovering the music of his youth.
“Returning home as an adult, after being away almost 20 years – before all the travel, touring, and living – put a spell on me. It had me constantly framing
and reframing the memories, moving emotional goalposts to better suit my current needs. Asking myself “are you happy? Is life everything you hoped and dreamed it would be?”
An unapologetic ode to the audacity and playful cynicism of growing up, After The Head Rush emerges like the shadow of a sundial cast between two time zones – one in the past, and one in the present. D’Ecco’s goal was to face down this new reflection by translating its gaze; what emerged is a paradoxical elixir providing comfort as the varnish begins to wear off. “The highs and the come down is a line I’m constantly tip-toeing,” d’Ecco tells, “I feel better having gone through it. That said, I’m prone to reframing memories to the positive, even if in the moment, I felt quite differently. I crave that romanticism.”
The experience bled into d’Ecco’s obsessive production methods and unlocked a newfound sense of freedom in his writing as the ideas revealed themselves with one simple mission: “Maximalism!” he declares. “I wanted to produce a big, bright, sparkly album. Along the lines of something you hear in a Tears For Fears or Peter Gabriel record, or something Bob Clearmountain would have mixed in the ‘80s.”
With the album’s bed tracks recorded at the legendary Hipposonic Studios (formerly Little Mountain Studios) in Vancouver, d’Ecco was able to harvest its iconic rock sound where history seeps from the walls. The arrangements were filled out on proven home turf at Hive Studios in Victoria alongside key local talent, before d’Ecco carried his newest creation to Montreal, ready for mixing with Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire); “an expert at creating space within the mix.”
Surgically precise, yet cheeky and playful, it’s shrewdly intentional; cautionary nods to coping mechanisms so easy to cling to are set to the throbbing backbone of polyrhythms and infectious melodies, whilst swaggering basslines with fever dream synths juxtapose anxiety and resolution to create an atmosphere for catharsis in one moment – and unease the next.
Take the snake oil seeping from “Palm Slave”, or the self-aware cautionary tale, whispered from the front seat of time machine “I Was a Teenager”. “Until the Sun Comes Up” sends a toxic love letter to the bratty version of you with a heavy dose of “screw it” once shit becomes too damn catchy. “Midlife Crisis” meanwhile, nods to both the mid-30s gumption and world-worn sarcasm of Ric Ocasek, and a weighted blanket of dehydrated anxiety that’s impossible to shake no matter how much coconut water you drink.
With life in this album around every turn, each track is a new morning after; warm and comforting odes to hope in the form of the Bonnie and Clyde top-down freedom of “Run Away”, the familiarity of tandem self-medication in “SAD Light Disco”, and the stentorian, devoted howl of “Only Ones”. Apt then, now is the moment d’Ecco has chosen to shed his recognizable visage for an unflinching, authentic reality check.
When d’Ecco humbly purrs “Day Fevers was an album of mine so long ago”, as if offered in passing to a stranger while at the bar waiting for drinks, you hear the mic drop on the d’Ecco we once knew. You double-take to see this raw soul, whose once raven bob cut has become a naked shock of white-blond with unwavering eye contact, refusing you to ignore the present moment. You sit and begin to relish wisdom in the come down, and the unvarnished freedom in the reflection you earned after losing time in the smoke machine.