From Simian Mobile Disco to ‘The Hum’: Charting James Ellis Ford’s Solo Voyage
In the ever-evolving music industry, artists wear multiple hats – from being composers, songwriters, to producers – the versatility becomes their signature. One such enigmatic figure is James Ellis Ford, who, for the past two decades, has been hidden in plain sight. As an esteemed producer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, Ford has collaborated with some of the most revered names in the music industry, including Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode, Foals, Gorillaz, and Jessie Ware, amongst others. Yet, he has never stolen the limelight, often dedicating himself to the success of these projects with a selfless devotion that borders on self-erasure.
His collaborative efforts with creative partner Jas Shaw, as one-half of Simian Mobile Disco, and his role as a touring member of The Last Shadow Puppets, are testaments to his ability to work towards a collective goal. However, in a captivating turn of events, Ford is finally stepping into the spotlight with his debut solo album, ‘The Hum,’ released under the iconic Warp Records.
‘The Hum’ eschews the obvious path of a star-studded pop album for something more intimate and personal. It’s a bewitching testament to Ford’s diverse musical influences and personal journey. An homage to the tender and eccentric English pop music of Brian Eno and Robert Wyatt, ‘The Hum’ is also a heartfelt tribute to his wife and son’s Palestinian heritage. It’s a blend of Canterbury prog’s pastoral verve and modern hip-hop production dynamics. This album is not just a collection of songs but a madcap exploration of Ford’s musical and personal terrain.
The album’s birth is rooted in Ford’s decision to construct a studio in his family home back in 2017, a move that allowed him the luxury of sonic experimentation. However, as the construction was completed, his life took a dramatic turn. He embraced fatherhood and the joys it brought along while simultaneously grappling with his creative partner Shaw’s diagnosis with AL amyloidosis. This rare disease put Simian Mobile Disco on an indefinite hiatus, forcing Ford to introspect and channel his creativity into a solo venture.
In discussing the album’s creation, Ford admits to being tempted to reach out to his contacts for collaboration. He confesses, “I was making tracks and thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll send this to Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys).’ It genuinely did cross my mind that I could make an album with a lot of guest features, but it just felt braver for me to do it on my own.” His decision underlines the courage and determination that have gone into the creation of ‘The Hum.’
When asked whether ‘The Hum’ allowed him to reveal something fundamental about himself, Ford responded affirmatively. He admits to feeling nervous about this raw and personal project, stating, “It’s as close to my heart as it can be without me spelling everything out.” And indeed, the album is a profound reflection of Ford’s individuality and musical prowess, finally stepping out from behind the scenes into the spotlight.
In conclusion, ‘The Hum’ is a testament to Ford’s years of experience, musical journey, and personal evolution. It is a heartfelt narrative, a rich sonic tapestry woven with love, courage, and introspection. This debut solo album serves as a reminder of Ford’s immense talent and a revelation of his vulnerability and personal life, finally allowing him to shine in the spotlight he so deserves.
James Ellis Ford
1. Tape Loop #07
2. Pillow Village
3. I Never Wanted Anything
4. Squeaky Wheel
5. The Yips
6. Golden Hour
7. The Hum
10. Closing Time
1xLP | CD | DIGITAL
Topics: James Ellis Ford Debut Solo Album, The Hum by James Ellis Ford, James Ellis Ford’s Musical Journey, Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ellis Ford, James Ellis Ford on Warp Records, English Pop Influence in The Hum, Palestinian Heritage in James Ellis Ford’s Music, Canterbury Prog and Modern Hip-Hop in The Hum, James Ellis Ford’s Transition to Solo Artist, Review of The Hum Album.
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