“If I was to tell you there’s a musical artist on the scene with an air of mystery and an enigmatic style, you’d of course be snapping at my heels to find out who I’m on about. From beneath dark bobbed hair and charismatic maquillaged eyes, Art d’Ecco conveys the look of a person born out of time. But Art, it seems, has found his niche – a modernity, a beguiling look and a musical style that reflect his obsessions. On stage the character of Art d’Ecco takes a stance and steps into a theatrical role with total conviction.” – Princess Julia
Adding substance to immaculate style, Art d’Ecco’s latest creation, In Standard Definition, commands attention with every turn. Like channel surfing on an old television set, watching grainy black and white movies or flickering slideshows starring a cross section of humanity, each all-analogue vignette holds up a mirror to pop culture and explores the curiosity of entertainment. Lyrically blurring fact and fiction, it swaggers from the glory days of La La Land’s golden age to today’s obsession with celebrity and its hold over us all. “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you,” d’Ecco tells. “Whether on TV or writing the books you read, it’s an odd sense of purpose we allocate to these humans whose talent is in distracting us from the doldrums of daily life. We’re constantly searching for something… glued to our phones… consuming various forms of entertainment. We feel less close with each other, and closer to the strangers who make us feel good.”
Joining forces with producer/engineer Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, New Pornographers, Destroyer) in ocean-side studio The Hive, In Standard Definition sees d’Ecco packing his heftiest punch yet. Through Stewart’s vintage set up, a decoupage of authentic sounds was recorded to 2-inch tape on a 50- year-old console. Embellished with slick ‘70s drums production, it echoes with the textural ambition of Brian Eno’s Here Come The Warm Jets or Toni Visconti on Bowie’s Scary Monsters. “I’m obsessed with tape, film, and sounds of yesteryear, so recording could only be analogue – in standard definition – the way entertainment was once created,” d’Ecco reveals. “I wanted to go back in time, exist in a different era and breathe my creativity through it.”
Chin skywards, In Standard Definition struts with the striking tonal resemblance of ‘70s glam, oscillating between new wave and new romantic via C86 infusions, or the simplicity of John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band. Earning his producer stripes, d’Ecco played musical ringleader, building the tracks’ layers with a revolving door of hand picked musicians: jazz and blues players on horns, Victoria Symphony Orchestra’s string players, soul singers, and his suited and booted live band. With shrewd attention to structure, the album’s episodic nature can be experienced in its entirety or dialled in and out, with instrumental interludes ‘Channel 7 (Pilot Season)’ and ‘Channel 10 (Reruns)’ aligning Lynchian drama with their sinister sounds, to capture actors’ struggles during Tinsteltown’s pilot season. “There’s a crushing blow to the heartbreak of being an actor, particularly on the west coast, the rise and fall of chasing your dreams,” d’Ecco suggests. “That repetitive cycle can be a challenge to one’s ego. The enduring highs and lows of a performer struggling to be seen. I wanted to write from that vantage point as much as I wanted to illuminate what we’re all celebrating.”
Uplifting opener ‘Desires’ salutes the aging, out of touch performers from soap star to gameshow host and ‘I Am The Dancefloor’ incinerates with Nile Rogers and Chic burn; a magnificent stomper, it throws down the pop gauntlet for CBGB’s punks to take over Studio 54. ‘Good Looks’ highlights the artificial world of online dating between crystalline Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre style 80s synths whilst ‘Bird of Prey’ and ‘TV God’ make their own right hand turns with exclamation point guitars adding their own splatter of paint to his majestic canvas.
Ready to air its prime-time position, In Standard Definition is premiered by an artist evolving with every season. His 2018 album Trespasser was the trailer, bracing audiences for impact, and alongside its two subsequent singles – a cover of ‘This Flight Tonight’ for a Joni Mitchell anniversary compilation, and the Gary Numan esque ‘I’ll Never Give You Up’ – served as tantalizing tasters on which the West Coast bit hard. An outpouring of fan art ensued, with love from critics, a live session for Seattle’s iconic KEXP, and performances at more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Then, in Spring 2020, the UK’s neo-psych rockers Temples sought d’Ecco out to join them on the road. “Trespasser was the start of a two-year ride taking me to all sorts of places I’d never been to. Seeing how different cultures interact with entertainment was the genesis for In Standard Definition. A lot of this record was actually written on the road late at night in motel rooms – with the flickering light of a television in the background.”
With nothing standard about Art d’Ecco’s high definition world, audiences are eagerly catching up. Tune in and prepare to binge upon d’Ecco’s latest extravagant episode, just don’t get too comfortable; you never know what’s waiting on the next channel.