Ed Harcourt has announced details of Monochrome To Colour, his ninth studio album, released on Friday, September 18th 2020 on Point Of Departure, his second release for the label following 2018’s Beyond The End.
A much-acclaimed recording artist who released his Mercury Prize-nominated debut, Here Be Monsters on Heavenly Records in 2001, in recent years his has gained acclaim for his songwriting for a variety of artists.
Ed has also today shared the stunning video for Drowning In Dreams, which was filmed in Iceland and shot by the regular Harcourt sleeve photographer and video maker Steve Gullick. The pair found themselves in a remote cabin, with little sustenance beyond whisky, and shot some hypnotic footage among the trees and snow-fields.
Following Beyond The End, Monochrome To Colour is Ed’s second consecutive album of powerful, cinematic instrumentals – but where Beyond The End was beautifully melancholic, gliding amid the dissipating vapour trails of precious memory, Monochrome To Colour is a more ecstatic collection.
Watch the video for ‘Drowning In Dreams’ – BELOW:
“The new album,” he says, “definitely has a sense of explosion and euphoria in places. A massive thing for me is melody. I grew up playing Mozart and Beethoven and that has stuck with me. Melody is the central thing.”
Recorded in Ed’s own studio, the Wolf Cabin, a well-appointed super-shed in the Harcourt family garden in rural Oxfordshire the album features contributions from Clive Deamer who drums on three tracks – someone who’s also worked with Radiohead, Dr John and Roni Size – Ed’s violinist wife Gita Langley and Gita’s sister and the cellist and string arranger Amy Langley (Amy brings her own broad musical church, having worked with people including Primal Scream, Kano, Little Mix and ELO).
“The new album is much more of an escapist record than Beyond The End,” he says. “The last one was quite minimal, very melancholic. The new record opens its arms to the world.”
The new album is indeed full of rapturous outreach. It was made with an interesting blend of instrumentation, ancient and modern. There’s a 1910 Hopkinson baby grand piano, and also a dulcitone, a 19th-century oddity where hammers strike an array of tuning forks. “Broken old instruments mixed with modern software,” says Ed. The latter is represented by digital drones, plus computer emulation of the Hammond Novachord, a vintage synthesizer.
Occasionally drawing on some established Harcourt inspirations – the Mozart and Beethoven beside Debussy, Satie, Max Richter and the soundtracks of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – there are also a couple of noir-ish interludes, albeit underpinned by groove-led drum patterns from Clive Deamer (After The Carnival and Last Rites). But the album’s signature mood is a kind of hyper-real elation. The title track has an echo of Vangelis’s Chariots Of Fire soundtrack.
“Yes,” says Ed, “I was thinking, it would be pretty good if I could soundtrack footage of the athlete arriving with the Olympic torch… The big-music mood is funny because some of my favourite film directors are people like Wim Wenders or Hal Ashby, people who fit with the more understated aspects of what I do. But here I am writing this music that could go with a huge blockbuster action film. This music is totally visual for me. It fills my head with images and ideas. With the title track, I was kind of trying to get a feeling of death and euphoria at the same time – like an alien was transporting you up into the spacecraft, ascending in a beam of light. Exhilarating and unsettling at the same time…To put it a more simply – it’s escapism, pure escapism.”
The tracklisting of Monochrome To Colour is as follows:
1. First Light
3. Drowning In Dreams
4. Her Blood Is Volcanic
5. Only The Darkness Smiles For You
6. Death Of The Siren
7. After The Carnival
8. Last Rites
9. So Here’s To You, Hally
11. King Raman
12. Monochrome Into Colour