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Russell Haswell - Reality Therapy (Album Review)

Russell Haswell
Russell Haswell

Coventry. Land of the free. Birthplace of Russell Haswell, a man who shoots bleeps and bloops like lightning out of his fingertips. He makes art and music. Art, for those who don’t know, is when someone paints something, usually the face of another person or, even more rarely themselves. Music is slightly different. Music is like what Madonna does. Or Mozart. And never the twain shall meet!

So, if the twain doth’n’t meet, what on earth does Russell Haswell think he’s playing at? You can’t do both! That’s illegal! Well, he must be a very clever man, that’s all I’ll say. A fool would have been given life in prison by now.

A fool couldn’t release a new album, could they? Were one to waggle their fingers in the vain of a cartoon character about to munch, and waggle said fingers on the touch screen of their phone, flirt their way over to Spotify, and tap these letters in this order - R U S S E L L H A S W E L L R E A L I T Y T H E R A P Y - they might stumble across a little album called ‘Reality Therapy’ by Russell Haswell.

For those that like their tech bizarre and abrasive, it’s a lovely little number. I’m going to do a quick run through of the tracks and how they made me feel.

Availability Heuristic - I’m at the panel of a very big spaceship. I’m unsure of how the controls work, so I’m pressing buttons seemingly at random. I’m worried we’re going to hit ‘The Planet’. I reluctantly, in a moment of weakness, slam my head into the control desk. Thankfully, my massive head hits all the correct buttons. We narrowly miss the planet and plummet straight into a black hole.

Adverse Inference - An instant of droning and then absolute chaos. I’m now in a park, digging a hole to china. Amazingly, it works, and I fall through the hole directly into the Earth. Along the way I see various geometric patterns in the centre of the planet and I have a vague understanding of what it is we’re meant to do in this life. As I tumble out of the other side through a grid in Hong Kong, I bump my head on a fire hydrant and forget everything I’ve learnt.

Transparent Introspection - Ambient and disorientating. I am discovering something new. It’s a very tall plant I have never seen before. I clamber to the top and see, above the clouds, fields of golden crops and a very tall, golden farmer hoeing them. I go to ask him a question but as I do a golden scarecrow bats me off the edge of a cloud where I fall to my death. The golden scarecrow peaks over the clouds and says something profound to me but I am wearing noise-cancelling airpods.

Leg-Lengthening - Extended Assault - An immediate battle with the track takes place. I am in a fist fight in a video game with my opponent: ‘Leg-Lengthening - Extended Assault’. He is firing on all cylinders, and I have no missiles or health vials left. I am being punished. In one swift movement I land a final punch which shatters every bone in my hand and I am left unable to play guitar. I wonder whether that was always the intention of the track.

Entrainment - I am desperately trying to hold in a piss.

Pat Roller - I’ve wet myself. I am being walked by a security guard through airport security with my soggy trousers in a bag. All they had for me to wear in lost and found was the bottom half of a pantomime horse costume. I find, tucked away the inside pockets of the costume, a small handgun. As they usher me through the metal detectors I am utterly petrified.

Tik Tok Tik - I am learning how to floss. The lady in the YouTube tutorial is being kinder to me than anyone has ever been in my entire life. She reaches her hand through the television and pulls me into it. We proceed to recreate the music video for ‘Take On Me’ by a-ha. As the song nears its halfway point, the kind lady slaughters me and takes me back to her hut in the woods where my body is used to feed her children for weeks.

Pegasus - I am suddenly strangely moved. I go to kiss a beautiful American woman. As I pull back I see she is my father. I recoil in horror and instantly wake up from the dream. I pull out my dream journal and write it down next to yesterday's entry that simply says “balloon animal festival”.

Observation Position - I am in a large, computer generated castle. Every room is the same room. I cannot exit through the front door because someone has lubricated the handles and I can’t get a good grip. I look around for clues. I find a small dishrag I can use to dry the door handle. The handle is hooked up to a car battery and I am electrocuted as a punishment for comparing this song to a liminal space.

Turn The Tapes Off - I am dancing and sweating. A car park attendant asks me to stop but I cannot. I tell him it is as if I’m in a Western and people are shooting at my feet with guns causing me to jump up and down. I tell him that I’m not in a Western, that I’m in fact just listening to music. The two gunmen from across the lot stop shooting near my feet and instead spray my body with bullets. I was wrong and the track continues to play as the camera pulls up from my body, which is now being cradled by the crying parking attendant.

It is a very cool record, however, there are many other cool things about him too. One of the cool things is that he’s playing at Quarry on the 29th September. This means I can go and watch him, and drink a pint of lager while I do. Maybe dance? Maybe not. The thing he does at Quarry is going veer towards ‘music’ (Mozart, Madonna, etc.) but with maybe tickles of ‘art’ (dunno). I’d highly recommend watching it, should you want to learn more about one or both of these concepts!

Reality Therapy is available now on Diagonal Records.

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