not a member? click here to sign up
The Polyphonic Flee
They’ve been knocking around the Belfast scene for yonks. But ESCAPE ACT are only hitting their stride now.
Colin Carberry, 13 Oct 2010
inancial orthodoxies, national governments, the Arctic Monkeys, Big Brother – all these things and more have waxed and waned in the long years that have passed since I first saw Chris Heaney and Richard Dale playing live in bands. Claiming that the escape act duo are well established on the Belfast music scene is like saying Alex Ferguson has been manager at Manchester United for a season or two. You need only mention a few of the bands they have previously been involved with – Desert Hearts, Ninebar, Kismet – to get a sense of just how deep their involvement runs. They are stalwarts. Stalwarts with a pronounced fondness for Pixies LPs.
Music, however, is no respecter of longevity. If anything, the further an act drifts from its accelerated origins, the more difficulty it has magicking up excitement and flair.
So, when we come to Balance, the new escape act album, and glance through the credits to find the same line-up, same producer, same studio – it’s no surprise to find a murmur of apprehension appearing on the horizon. Forty minutes in the album’s company, however, and any reservations will have been placated. Balance, as you would expect, is a record of warm familiarity and easy company. But – and here’s the rub – it manages this not by tilling a familiar furrow, but by instead darting deliriously off-road along a load of unplanned detours.
In fact, come at it cold, and the band’s lengthy CV is an irrelevance: this could easily pass as a box-fresh debut by some eager-beaver cubs. A decade in, and it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.
So, chatting to Chris – there really is only one way to start: how did you manage that?
“We just love music and being creative,” he volunteers, “Andy Miller (producer) has a similar enthusiasm and when we are recording we always work in a very positive way. There’s a tremendous amount of energy going on when we’re recording, and I think it’s ignited by the freedom to totally be yourself, because of the depth of friendship behind it. We always try to push things forward and not be precious about anything. I think that can lead to a record that sounds fresh, despite the same people being behind it, because we never try to repeat previous approaches.”