The Notes To Enlightenment
There’s always been a vulnerable melodic melancholic sequence in the DNA of Steve Mason. Far from a slight mutant glitch that some mad professors may be trying to weed out in a sinister underground genetic laboratory somewhere, it is these idiosyncratic frail human notes that actually bond us together and have become the conception spark to the songs he penned and forlornly/longingly sang like a call to hearts (mostly), sometimes of arms (as in Monkey Minds In The Devils Time, 2013) throughout his various career guises from The Beta Band through King Biscuit Time and Black Affair, all the while getting one chorus closer to himself and stepping out to face the world simply as Steve Mason.
We live in an incredibly pressured world with nonstop information proclaiming we aren’t good enough as we are and that we need to consume various ever increasingly expense things by ad pushers feeding on our junkie longings for approval and fear of death, it’s all a distraction from ourselves though, which is the richest asset we have. Steve is wonderfully quite open about various bouts he’s had with depression over the years, and the creation of music being a pressure and a reward for confronting it’s fog of confusion and doubt. We didn’t have to be in the same carriage as him to understand the journey, being part of the 21st Century in the UK we can see successive governments contributing too this malaise, encouraging isolation and removing support mechanisms to basically survive this thing we call Life. There was no confusion as to why Steve was righteously angry on Monkey Minds as he looked down upon the world from relative isolation in the Scottish hills of Fife.
Even though his latest album Meet The Humans (2016) was mostly written in those hills, he has clearly had time to hone his innate ability to see the connections between us all and indeed Nature. It also has brought clarity that cuts through the chagrin that may lurk in the corner of our minds, as if accepting our humility in the sweeping chaos of Nature and the Universe has brought a joy and freedom rather than weight of mortality, a desire to live and share this life, as brief as it might be.
This new sense of elation contributed to his move to live in Brighton where he finished the album along with members (and trusted friends) of his band that he toured Monkey Minds with, learning to enjoy the creative process once again through collaboration. That elation is beautifully captured by Craig Potter from Elbow who produced the album, capturing every lush gentle detail. From the first bars and lines of the opening song ‘Water Bored’ we have the announcement of ‘You can make it’ as the calling card to the entire album. Steve has experienced some of the darkness we will all be bruised by at some stage (life/death/relationships), but he’s here to remind us that we can survive. And it’s these elements of positivity/hope that permeate the album, wether it be with instruments as with echoes of Jamaican steel drums on ‘Alright’, soaring horns on ‘Another Day’ or early house beats and anthemic piano as in ‘Words In My Head’ reminding us of the communal euphoria (Planet Sizes) and waves of the joys of life of clubbing, all the while you can feel Steve smiling throughout, no mater how dark the subject, there’s a glint in his eye that lights the way forward. And we’re all smiling too, hands raised and ready to embrace the future.
Steve Mason Meet The Humans is out now. Check out stevemasontheartist.com for tour info.