Ed Harcourt – Monochrome to Colour: A radiant, captivating compilation
Acclaimed Mercury Prize-nominated musician Ed Harcourt describes his remarkable new record Monochrome To Colour as escapist. Expansive and inspirational, it “opens its arms to the world”. His ninth studio album and second instrumental collection after Beyond The End (2018), the work is abundant, vibrant and mesmerising.
Strings and electronic music characterise early dawn in First Light, which can be imagined as an immersive experience, the drums vividly dramatising the rising sun. Ascension’s grave opening chords lead to joyful melodic piano and evolve into a driving rock beat. Monotone electro-sound grows into poignant violin, military-style percussion and brass in Drowning in Dreams. The soulful Her Blood Is Volcanic simmers with pensive romanticism, while the meandering and bewitching Only the Darkness Smiles dances with playful joy. Spellbinding electronic tones hypnotise then blossom into a full symphonic epiphany in Death Of The Siren.
Ascending with stunning serenity followed by a growing marching drumbeat, After the Carnival progresses to more solemn notes. Percussion inaugurates Last Rites, prevailing in conjunction with stirring piano and inspirational orchestral ebullitions. So Here’s to You, Hally’s gentle, sentimental keyboard melody with quietly echoing background strings suggest an emotive tribute. A lovely chime opens the unusual and evocative Childhood which, combined with earnest instrumentals, seems to manifest innocence and lightness, and with strong piano licks, King Raman gradually expands to spectacular multi-layered splendour. Comprised of a ghostly chorus, the title track finale morphs into a potent and steady rock sound with a slow rhythmic section.
The composer has combined various disparate elements in this record to form a comprehensive whole: new age, classical electronic and rock; romanticism and intellectualism; the sombre and the joyful. It is as if the artist is trying to reconcile life’s contradictions and create a harmonious cohesion, to show that existence is complex but its paradoxes are symbiotic, and as such, incredibly beautiful.
Rising up, redemption and celebration seem to embody Harcourt’s captivating new compilation. Positive and euphoric, striking and magnetic, Monochrome To Colour is both a meditative self-exploration and a radiant expression of wonder at the magnificence of the world.
Monochrome to Colour is released on 18th September 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Ed Harcourt’s website here.
Watch the video for Drowning in Dreams here: