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Howerdel, Billy: What Normal Was

A name that doesn’t necessarily trip off the tongue but Mr Howerdel has been active on the music scene for quite some time without us really knowing it.

If you are familiar with the name its more than likely through his work with A Perfect Circle, which was a successful collaboration with Tool`s Maynard James Keenan resulting in four rather successful albums.

So, a first solo album from Billy under his own name, the Ashes Divide record in 2008 was essentially a solo record but Billy says that this album is taking him back to when he first picked up a guitar in his teens, and therefore takes on board the influences that drove him to pick up the instrument in the first instance, namely Pink Floyd, The Cure and Echo and The Bunnymen.

`Selfish Heart` is a hypnotic opener with an alluring mix of both electronica and symphonia and `Free and Weightless` continues in a similar vein and dare I say it is a tune that could even be danced to.

`Ani` takes its lead from early 80`s pioneers Depeche influence that runs pretty much through the album, and is a subtle tune that draws the listener into its rather ethereal musings.

`Poison Flowers` being the first single to be released from the album, is closer in nature to what he was doing in A Perfect Circle, and once more relies upon the keyboards to create a haunting atmosphere.

`Beautiful Mistake` is the song that binds the album together with its deep fascinating rumble and haunting vocals and I think It’s fair to say that the record as a whole has a melancholic feel to it, which rather than being depressive I found to be one of the albums underlying strengths. His vocals tend to be spoken rather than sung and are, at times heavily treated which give off a rather mechanical vibe, but again just adds to the albums charm.

A record that came as a really nice surprise, with at times more than a hint of David Bowie during his Berlin period about it and coupled with the previously mentioned influences, this makes for a curious yet most satisfying listen.

Track Listing
1.Selfish Heart
2.Free And Weightless
4.Beautiful Mistake
5.The Same Again
6.Poison Flowers
8.Bring Honor Back Home

Added: July 21st 2022
Reviewer: Malcolm Smith
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 100
Language: english

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