Challenging rock’s overt masculinity and cool artifice, Trespasser is a sensual, sensory-overload.
I am a sucker for a good origin story. The romance began with my childhood love of comic books and remains to this day. Whether it’s the circumstances that turn an ordinary man into a crime-fighting bat or the story of how a pugnacious musical misfit became a world famous glam rock chameleon, I’m fascinated by the mystique and mystery surrounding beginnings — especially ones as auspicious as that of B.C.-based enigma, Art d’Ecco.
Born in the backwoods of BC’s Gulf Islands, Trespasser, d’Ecco’s debut long player is the antithesis of music you’d expect to come from such a lush, verdant, natural environment. Like many children and grandchildren these days, d’Ecco found himself the caregiver to his grandmother who lived with Alzheimer’s. He moved into her cottage nestled on one of the islands and soothed her anxieties and agitations by playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the piano for hours on end. He remained alone in the cottage after his grandmother was relocated, with nothing but that piano and his own creativity for company. It was in the isolation of that island, amid the flora and fauna that Art d’Ecco, the binary-bending throwback to glam rock’s androgynous heyday, was born.
Though we know nothing of the person Art d’Ecco was before developing his persona, Trespasser leaves listeners with a very acute sense of the artist he’s become. Challenging rock’s overt masculinity and cool artifice, Trespasser is a sensual, sensory-overload delight of chunky guitars, flared synths, and feathery falsettos. There’s a heavy fog permeating on stompers like “Mary” and opener “Never Tell”, which sets the tone for this decidedly dismal and foreboding record. Prime 70s era Bowie is an obvious touchstone throughout, but d’Ecco isn’t opposed to pulling some influence from 80s new wave, as evidenced by the New Ordereque bass line on “Nobody’s Home”. That song’s lyrics, in particular, encapsulates the isolation and loneliness at Trespasser’s heart: “If you stay at home then you won’t go far / Driving in circles you just get lost / Living all alone til the day you die / Questions circling / Why oh why?”. d’Ecco’s penchant for beautiful melodies punctures the gloom —if only for a few minutes — on the sadly beautiful “Lady Next Door” before “Last in Line” and “The Hunted” bring things home with “Suffragette City” intensity on the former and “Rock & Roll Suicide” poignancy on the latter.
d’Ecco’s honest, almost semi-autobiographical lyrics about watching his grandmother retreat into the abyss of her own mind bounce off the unabashedly glammy pop melodies to help keep the darkness at bay. With bombastic swagger and full-on commitment to his aesthetic, d’Ecco triumphs over the depression and despair that surrounded him on his island. Like an alien visitor from another world, he transcends the stagnant and staid masculine conceit of rock ‘n’ roll and welcomes the freaks back to the party.