Dan Whitehouse – The Glass Age
Isolated from his infant son (who was in Japan it seems) and restricted from making art during the global upheaval of 2020, Dan Whitehouse took solace in connectivity through digital space. A snatched zoom call, a message on instagram, a late flurry of lovelorn emojis. “I had an epiphany,” says Dan. “Screens are okay! We should embrace them. They’re magical, really. A portal to our loved ones, in our pockets, at all times.”
That led to The Glass Age an electronica masterpiece that passed me by at the time. Working with Gustaf Ljunggren (remotely of course) he produced some quite magical pieces of electronica. Highlight of the album is The Thin Blue Line with a 90s Bowie feel to Dan’s singing. Much of the music has a Berlin feel to it with Low era Bowie and Tangerine Dream, although epic, Vangelis style sounds crop up on The Tide. Singling out one song as a highlight is a bit unfair because there isn’t a dud song here. The title song is another atmospheric tune. Born of a conversation with singer, Stephen William Hodd, Dan says “It expresses a longing for a simpler time, and how Stephen went through a rebellion against his grammar school upbringing”.
I love this album, it’s been on heavy rotation since it arrived. And it’s a must for Bandcamp Friday.
Reflections On The Glass Age.
A thought on listening to the earlier album was I wonder how these would sound acoustically? Dan clearly though the same so, now we have the acoustic versions of the same songs. Released on 28th April, but don’t worry I’ll remind you about it later. Good songs are good songs and work in any context. This time The Tide stands out. “. Our screens are what we seek some kind of ‘air’ through, and enable us to be anywhere – but we need real air and water. We’re yearning for touch, a kiss, a hand on the shoulder. I wondered whether by failing to log in to certain accounts I would disappear” Rainbows Never End is also given new life by the acoustic setting. A song for his son: “I can’t live in Japan permanently, so it means I have to keep leaving him temporarily”. New Love also works better in the acoustic context having been a bit of an outlier on the earlier disc as a full band production. Calling this: “A father’s ode to smiley emojis, midnight WhatsApps and accidentally being on mute” Dan’s songwriting shines out of this album.
I think Dan Whitehouse may be my new favourite songwriter. He’s produced some of the best reflections on lockdown, and there have been so many. Dan’s songs capture his personal reaction and the impact on him, rather than trying to make general points about the way we all felt and they are the more powerful for that. He may also be my first foray into the world of Patreon, as he is certainly someone to explore more fully.