The mysterious and enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter now known as Art d’Ecco is a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett; but in 2018 he emerged as a dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam rocker with the release of that year’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.”
The forthcoming, Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on two-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 pushes the boundaries of glam rock, as it draws 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.”
So far, throughout the year I’ve written about two of In Standard Definition’s previously released singles:
“TV God,” a 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.
“Head Rush” an infectious 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.
“I Am The Dance Floor,” In Standard Definition’s latest single is a shimmering and strutting disco take on glam rock centered around a rapid-fire four-on-the-floor, fluttering synth arpeggios, a funky and propulsive, dance floor friendly grooves, a regal horn sample and an enormous hook that may remind some of Bay City Rollers “Saturday Night,” Echoes-era The Rapture and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy.
Directed by Wai Sun Cheng, the recently released video for “I Am the Dance Floor” features d’Ecco and his backing band under a glittering disco ball and on a giant, patchwork light up floor, made famous in Saturday Night Fever, beckoning the viewer — and of course, the listener — on to the dance floor, where there’s true liberation, if only for a three-minute song.
“I was picturing this alt version of Saturday Night Fever where the lead is this aging loner obsessed with dance, who every weekend shows up at different clubs around town and just murders the dance floor, and then disappears out the back door,” d’Ecco says. “There is a person from my home town who sort of fits this description quite well. I think every scene has their own version of Random Dancing Dude.”
In Standard Definition is slated for an April 23, 2021 release through Paper Bag Records.