A concept album of sorts, Ed Hale and the Transcendence‘s All your heroes become villains is a collection of songs tackling different genres. Not too diverse to be disparate but still different enough to be dissimilar, it harks to some brit pop, some prog rock and, of course, some blues based rock.
After a strange, chaotic and almost cacophony-laden intro (‘All your heroes become villains – Main Theme’), the band goes for a more straight up approach. ‘Blind eye’ has a foot clearly planted in 70s arena rock with some good ol’ riffing (rocking moments there). It’s a wild song and it’s a safehaven after the more experimental nature of the opening track.
Let’s get one thing straight before we go any further – I had not heard of Ed Hale or The Transcendence before CUTA editor Matt passed me this album with a glint in his eye. I make this statement because by the time you finish reading this review, I’m hoping that your never having heard of them either won’t stop you from giving this cracking album a go. Because that’s what it is – a cracking album. I mean, sure, there’s a lot going on, and it’s a little bit nuts, but since the fateful day when Matt handed it over, I haven’t stopped listening to it. I’m listening to it now, while I write this review. It’s intriguing, addictive, maddening, impossible to pin down…yeah. Like I said.
Out of the 11 songs on the new Ed Hale & the Transcendence album, All Your Heroes Become Villains, there are only 3 that offer any kind of hope, optimism, or hopefulness: track 3 entitled “Solaris,” track 6 “Here it Comes,” and the album closer “Last Stand at the Walls of Zion.” The rest of the album is a dark heavy brooding downward spiral into the lead character’s disillusionment with everything in his life. From the album’s trance-hop/operatic instrumental opening, which starts with a slow dirge-like pace and rhythm and then builds to a climactic crescendo of dissonance punctuated by two competing melodies – one played by trombone and the other sung by guest vocalist Dee Dee Wilde’s gospel tinged moaning and wailing — all the way through to the album’s closing track, All Your Heroes Become Villains feels like the soundtrack to the end of the world.
Song by song the lead character vents his anger and disappointment with the society he lives in and his own personal life, aiming his rage at everything from the political system (“Blind Eye” and “We Are Columbine”) to God and religion (“Waiting for Godot”) to friendship and romance (“Indian Princess” and “Messed it Up Again”). The climax of the album is track 10, the majestic seven minute ‘suicide letter in a song’ entitled “After Tomorrow” where it appears that the lead character has had enough of blaming the world around him and has turned inward only to discover that he doesn’t have what it takes to continue any further in a world full of hate, war, disease, crime and betrayal.
And yet amongst all this drama and pathos there is the beauty and hopefulness of the song “Solaris.” In their traditional Britpop meets post-modern rock style, Ed Hale and company deliver a near perfect pop song clocking in at three minutes and thirty seconds that shines a bit of light on the stage of their apocalyptic rock opera. Sweet and tender and yet mysterious, “Solaris” seems at first to be a love song. But the female character being sung to doesn’t appear to even be alive, at least not alive on planet Earth. Rather, the lead character sounds as if he is singing to someone far removed from all his earthly troubles, someone who is far far away, living in another galaxy called “Solaris.”
Lead singer Ed Hale summed it up this way, “A girl I knew, someone very close to me, had just passed away. And I found it impossible to deal with emotionally. Right around the same time, I had a chance to see the DVD of this old film called “Solaris” starring George Clooney. The film was based on the book by Stanislaw Lem. Seeing that movie just hit me at the right time. I had my guitar with me and while I was watching the film I just started strumming these chords and creating this song about my friend… What I did really, was just place her, Julia, into the movie… in order to bring her back to life for myself. I just felt that because it was unbearable to contemplate her passing that at the very least I could make her alive in some other form, like she’s still living but in a different dimension. So the song “Solaris” is just me, or the lead character of the album if you will, saying a prayer to her, talking to her… asking her how she’s doing… like “how’s life in your new world Julia?” It made me feel better. And although it isn’t enough to keep the lead character alive by the end of the album, I think it gives him some hope along the way to his final decision… like that.”
I encountered an interesting parallel story during a recent weekend in New York. During lunch with musician pals Richard X Heyman and Edward Rogers, an obscure British musician named Jimmy Campbell came up. Campbell wrote a few mildly successful hits in the mid ’60s during the full flush of the British Invasion. Few Americans know of Campbell, but Hale sure does. His label, Dying Van Gogh, has a multi-artist tribute planned and Rogers is contributing a track to the effort! Anyhow, here’s the rest of my little chat with Mr. Hale.
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Photo Courtesy of Gina Rowland: pictured from left to right are Ricardo Mazzi (drums), Zach Ziskin (guitar), Ed Hale (vocals, guitar), Fernando Perdomo (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Allan Gabay (piano, keyboards), Karen Feldner (background vocals), Roger Houdaille (bass, vocals), Kamran Green (DJ, Remixer), Leor Manelis (drums)
The new album, All Your Heroes Become Villains, is now available for pre-order on iTunes.
Click here for US iTunes, or UK iTunes.
Ed Hale and the Transcendence, All Your Heroes Become Villains is certainly titled appropriately for the times we live in. Like a shadow of today’s chaotic world, “The Villains album,” due out November 15th on the Dying Van Gogh Record label, is dark, moody and heavy, and yet every now and then it glimmers with hope and those catchy ear-candy melodies that fans of the band have come to love and expect.The collective, which reached up to 12 members during the recording process of their latest, weaves together their trademark post-modern rock meets Brit pop — creating an unforgettable aural soundscape that is larger than life and will leave you humming.
Hale and the band worked for over a year, bringing in other musicians when needed as varied as a gospel singer, a second drummer, a Los Angeles DJ, and various horn players. The result is a mashup of sounds but highly cohesive as an album still recognizable as having “that Transcendence sound.” Haunting melodies, bold sonic experimentation and Hale’s richly layered and impassioned vocals all come together to create a highly memorable and moving listening experience. Sounding more like a rock musical or a concept album, the songs both musically and lyrically tie into one another seamlessly in one cohesively bold brash and powerful listen more akin to Pink Floyd or David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs.
The fourth studio album by itinerant project Ed Hale And The Transcendence brings together new contributors and a collection of songs intertwining the talents and influences gathered together. The album opener offers uplifting soul vocals accompanied by a blissful piano and trumpet melody which ebbs and flows during the eleven tracks. Intermittent phrases of dialogue, another recurring motif carried throughout, consolidate a cinematic feel of the LP as the prelude segues into the next.
‘Here It Comes’ is the track infused most with the spirit of Britpop; the anthemic instrumentation, the rousing chorus and the soaring strings all present and correct. Hallmark elements of the Britpop sound also surface in ‘Solaris’, where Hale’s vocals, carried along by jaunty acoustic guitar chords, echo Bono and Alex Kapranos in parts; ‘After Tomorrow’, seven minutes in length, apes the likes of the mellow vibes and extended outro of ‘Champagne Supernova’ and the close backing harmonies of ‘Hey Jude’.
With each and every Transcendence album, one is never quite sure what to expect. During the nine years since their genre-defying breakout debut Rise and Shine, Ed Hale and the Transcendence have been musical shape-shifters, willing to assume whatever form and go in whatever direction their music demands. On their latest release, their fourth album, entitled All Your Heroes Become Villains, they harness the best of their previous efforts and multiply it by a gazillion. It was the result of a long, grueling recording process, appropriate for an album as equally accessible as it is complex and eclectic. Haunting melodies, rock-God guitar riffs, rhythmic adventurousness, bold sonic experimentation, inspired songwriting and Ed Hale’s impassioned vocals create a highly memorable experience for the listener that could easily be called a concept album. Each song seems integral to the work as a whole.
All Your Heroes Become Villains comes off like an instant classic – stylistically and lyrically unified and thematic and by far their most ambitious work to date. This masterpiece is dark and heavy, and yet every bit the catchy ear candy that fans of the band have come to expect. Hale sings of hope, victory, loss, suffering and blind idealism on a personal and global level in his signature tortured baritone while the band weaves together their trademark post-modern rock meets Brit pop creating an aural soundscape that is truly unforgettable. Features the hit singles “Blind Eye,” “Waiting for Godot,” and “Solaris.”
Out November 15th, 2011 (US) November 14th, 2011 (UK).
NikkeiBP is the largest and most trusted source of business and technology news in Japan. With dozens of publications and nearly 600 staff writers. Many have extensive experience and credentials in their fields. In this article, singer/songwriter/serial-entrepreneur Ed Hale of the rock band TRANSCENDENCE, a resident of New York, shares his views on the upcoming United States Presidential Elections. Click here to read article.
The TRANSCENDENCE lead singer/songwriter and guitarist is at it again. Ed Hale is in the studio once again recording 11 new songs for a yet another “new album.” TRANSCENDENCE just released a 14 song rarities collection entitled The City of Lost Children on the Dying Van Gogh record label in September, which featured their September 11th tribute song Rebuild America — the first time the song, recorded in 2001, was officially released for sale to the public. The label has announced that they will be releasing two other new albums – both of new material – All Your Heroes Become Villains and The Great Mistake this year as well. Good news that should finally satisfy frustrated fans since the albums have been completed, hyped, and talked about since late 2006, but were being held up due to various business problems in a constantly changing and challenging industry which has seen CD sales drop dramatically and the closing of Tower Records, many Virgin Music Stores, the bankruptcy of the band’s distributor, and thousands of smaller mom and pop music retailers around the country.
So in predictable untraditional fashion, fans will get THREE new albums by the band in one six month period. It is a sign of the generally confused state of the music business itself at this time. To make matters more confusing the band was almost finished recording the 24 song two-disc set nicknamed “the girls album” (due to all of the songs being about and having girl’s names in the titles) – the actual title being L’intrigue de Femme and Finding Francesca – but the recording of that album was postponed midway through production in 2007 with no word on when they will resume work on it.
So what to do? Evidently, record another album! Less than a week after meeting with Iran President Ahmadinejad during the United Nations General Assembly Meeting, Hale flew down to Miami, Florida to spend five weeks in the studio with fellow TRANSCENDENCE guitarist Fernando Perdomo – who is also playing the role of producer on this one – to record a new solo album set to be released in early 2009. This will be Hale’s first solo album since 1996’s Acoustic in New York.