Following on from the “Asleep Awake” single, Joel Wells is releasing the second in his series of multidisciplinary releases/works with interconnected artwork, typography, video and riso art prints. The new track is called “Gaslight” and is out.
“‘Gaslight’ is broadly about the idea of collective grief, shame, guilt, responsibility and forgiveness” says Wells. “It reflects on how we move forward in solidarity, in the wake of an atrocity that is particularly divisive.The song addresses ‘gaslighting’ and the danger of being consciously or unconsciously complicit in undermining the validity of someone else’s experience . “Gaslight” is not about one specific incident but Wells explains that “the song was written around the time of George Floyd‘s murder, and the cultural movement that followed was a catalyst for some of its themes.”
A musician equally inspired by techno, house and alt-disco as he is by alternative pop, Joel Wells’ music has previously been compared to Thom Yorke, John Martyn, LCD Soundsystem and Arthur Russell. “Gaslight” is inspired musically by one of Wells‘ favourite pieces of music, Ecophony Rinne by the Japanese collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi – which was also the inspiration behind the soundtrack for Katsuhiro Otomo’s film version of Akira.
Influenced by the vocal harmonies and low frequency hums from that piece, Wells says he “created drones, layering vocals and sub-frequencies to underpin the track with an ominous choral melancholy.” By then pitch-shifting these at unusual intervals, Wells brings an otherworldliness to “Gaslight” something he says “felt right to accentuate the feeling of warped unease….the shock of witnessing a man’s murder online and the distressing strangeness of seeing it shared repeatedly on social media.”
As with previous single “Asleep Awake”, the artwork created by Joel Wells was designed to mirror a relationship between form/structure and abstracted amorphousness. “Sculpting letter forms from their inherent basic shapes and fundamental geometry,” explains the artist, “in an effort to create compositions that retain a simplicity and minimalism that blurs the line between text, abstract pattern and image.”
Of the accompanying video, Wells states:
“It was filmed predominantly on my phone at the British Museum. I distorted footage of Empirical statues and iconography in combination with blocky graphic shapes from my Critter & Guitari video synth to illustrate the censoring and editing of historical narratives.“
Follow Joel Wells: