After three decades playing with Ride. Hurricane #1, Oasis, Beady Eye and Ride again, Andy Bell releases his debut solo album ‘The View from Halfway Down’ this month. The album was engineered by former Oasis bandmate Gem Archer and mastered by Hebra Kadry and has been in the works since the death of David Bowie inspired Andy to commit to finishing long-mooted solo material. The reason for the delay between then and now was the huge success of Ride’s reunion.
Now – due to 2020 – Andy has had the chance to finish the LP, taking the title from a poem featured in the penultimate episode of the always excellent Bojack Horseman: “The poem describes someone committing suicide by jumping to their death and the regret the protagonist experiences when he sees ‘the view from halfway down’. Although, of course, it’s too late to change what’s going to happen.”
The jangly psychedelia of recent single ‘Love Comes in Waves’ opens the reocrd in style before ‘Indica’ finds Andy jumping into a beat-heavy, ‘Screamadelica’-style sound complete with vocal effects. This song clocks in around the seven-minute mark and you can sense just how much enjoyment Andy is having creating these soundscapes. This continues through on the experimental DIY vibes of ‘Ghost Tones’ – a track that fuses together a number of different cultural influences with incessant drums.
The glorious Broken Social Scene-esque hooks of ‘Skywalker’ are fitting of the family who bears the title, while the handclaps and groove-laden bass back up Andy’s observations on how things are not necessarily rosier in the world outside your window. ‘Cherry Cola’ is another experimental piece full of anxious thoughts (‘I wish I was cooler. I wish I was dead’) and how even the smallest things can be melodic: ‘Watching the raindrops fall to race down my window then the tap is dripping’. The closing ‘Heat Haze on Weyland Road’ is another seven-minute special that falls somewhere between Goldfrapp and Public Service Broadcasting with a powerful bass sound and bursts of glitchy electronica.
As Andy says: “The album is not about songwriting. There aren’t many verses or choruses, because this album is about sounds, a listening experience.” Put your headphones in and enjoy the journey…