Although he’s a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett, the mysterious and enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter now known as Art d’Ecco emerged as a dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam and art rock-inspired presence with the release of 2018’s critically applauded, full-length debut Trespasser.
Since the release of Trespasser, the Canadian art rocker has played a live session for Seattle’s KEXP and played more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Last spring, d’Ecco opened for acclaimed UK-based psych rock act Temples before the pandemic struck. “Trespasser was the start of a two-year ride taking me to all sorts of places I’d never been to,” the acclaimed British Columbia-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “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.”
Sonically, the forthcoming, Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on 2-inch tape with a handpicked, rotating cast of musicians that featured jazz and blues-trained horn players, Victoria Symphony Orchestra string players, soul singers and his backing band on a 50 year old console at The Hive. Sonically, the album will reportedly find the acclaimed Canadian art rocker further establishing a sound that some critics have described as neo-glam. But interestingly enough, the album’s overall sound and aesthetic draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including elements of 50s pop, psychedelia, Velvet Underground-like art rock, Grimes-inspired electronics, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and Brian Eno among others. “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 explains. “I wanted to go back in time, exist in a different era and breathe my creativity through it.”
Thematically, the album holds up a mirror to pop culture and explores our obsessions with entertainment and celebrity. “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you,” d’Ecco explains in press notes. “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.”
Last month, I wrote about “TV God,” a shimmering and strutting synthesis of ’77 punk, Ziggie Stardust-era Bowie and Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan, centered around anthemic hooks, twinkling piano stabs, punchily delivered lyrics, soulful backing vocals, propulsive bass lines, a scorching guitar solo and squiggling synths. In Standard Definition‘s second single “Head Rush” is a shimmering and strutting boogie that owes a sonic debt to Man That Sold The World and Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, complete with an enormous horn line and glistening synths. Directed by Avi Glanzer, the recently released video for “Head Rush” features the Canadian art rocker in a sleek leather jumpsuit and acoustic guitar in a stylish, slick and trippy visual.
“It’s a song about the head rush of our youth – nostalgia is a powerful drug, it distorts and reframes the past, often reconciling our memories into one place for easy access and to better suit our current disposition or state of mind,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted all the hallmarks of a classic rock song – the kind of music that used to blast from the kitchen radio at the summer jobs I’d worked at as a teen. Guitar solo? Check. Drum solo? Check. Big horns and sparkly synths? Check.”
In Standard Definition is slated for an April 23, 2021 release through Paper Bag Records.