Ultramarine - The story behind the album
Ultramarine - Manzo
With a background in visual art, Alan Hodgetts has never been shy about experimenting, using any medium or material to communicate his ideas, messages and observations. After producing a soundtrack for a CGI animation ‘Make Peace and Love’, Alan simply continued composing and producing music which has been brought together in his debut album under the pseudonym ‘Manzo’.
Each track on ‘Ultramarine’ is the result of a musical experiment. Applying himself in the very same way he does with his art - rather than visual collages Alan has created musical collages, some abstract, some literal. Refusing to be boxed in to one particular style with his visual art, this approach is reflected in the album as there is no one genre on offer – instead there is a deliberately odd mix including pop, alternative, electronic, hip hop, trip hop and more.
The 11 album tracks are in some way tied to each other. Tracks such as the deeply emotive anti-war ‘The Eve of Ravenswood’ and the plea ‘Make Peace and Love’ are true companion pieces, before the upbeat sign-off track ‘Positive Energy’ thanks the supporters of Alan’s art and waves the listener goodbye.
While ‘Ultramarine’ can be said to have a dystopian under-current, this is not entirely the world imagined by Manzo. It is about the world we live in right now, that none of us can ignore or be exempt. The rise of artificial intelligence, mass data gathering, state control. Hence the use of synthesised voices on ‘Paintbomb’, ‘Rapbot’ and ‘Join the Club’. The issue of social uprising, protest and mischief gives us ‘Paintbomb’, which also salutes the world of street art.
‘Commuter’ looks at our routines, at being a cog in a big corporate machine, being worn down by the daily grind and the consequences of standing out from the crowd.
But there is also optimism in the tracks, the need for some time out with ‘Alive’ and ‘The North’ and breaking away from the mundane with ‘Move On’. ‘Insane’ adds in a little romantic pop to the mix.
There are unashamed 80’s influences throughout the album, reflecting Alan’s musical ‘coming of age’ and giving it a distinctly retro-feel.