Switched On – GLOK: Dissident (Bytes)

What’s the story?

Ride’s Andy Bell has pulled together all his solo recordings to date under the GLOK alias. GLOK – the German word for ‘bell’ with a crucial letter missing – has been an undercover enterprise until now, an anonymous project brought to life by Bytes chief Joe Clay, a Ride fan himself.

As this story suggests Bell is modest about his side project, but now he has been ‘outed’ as a one-man band, expect to hear a lot more of this music as the year progresses, even allowing for a new Ride album due in August.

What’s the music like?

Dissident unwittingly taps into the success of recent TV series such as Deutschland 83 and 86, where the pleasures have been as much about the music as they have been the plot. Yet as Bell looks back to the 1980s and further, he brings in the influence of Krautrock luminaries such as Can, Neu! And Bauhaus. He does this without compromising his own skills as a guitarist and his credentials as a much-loved ‘shoegaze’ producer.

Keith Tenniswood has remastered the whole album, which unfolds at a very natural pace. The title track clocks in at nearly 20 minutes, but is one of those productions you can completely lose yourself in, the main riff turning away in the background while running through a series of filters, the drum beats receding and then coming back with extra depth.

Bell expands his outlook with the subtle groove of Kolokoi (the Russian word for ‘bell’) and the airy textures and firm kick drum of Pulsing, which has a tempo suitable for dub-infused house. Cloud Cover adds a reminder of his first known discipline as a guitarist – a nice acoustic meander here – while the closing Exit Through The Skylight introduces chattering beats and a more processed feel.

Does it all work?

Yes. Bell has equal headspace for the past and the present, setting the mood perfectly with tracks that are suitable for both ends of the day. ‘Dissident’ on its own shows he can master big structures with durable ideas, while the shorter tracks teem with melodies, subtle humour and a refreshing lack of pretence. The album repays both foreground and background listening, preferably in a hotter climate!

Is it recommended?

Yes. Ride fans will love it, but the recommendation extends to anyone with a love of instrumental music and synthesizers.

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