Exclusive Album Premiere: Dean Manning – Sunday Mountain (2019)

It’s been sixteen years since Dean Manning had his last solo release, but it’s been worth the wait. You might know Dean better through some of his other collaborative efforts, think Leonardo’s Bride (who doesn’t have nostalgic flashbacks to Abby Dodson’s mellifluous vocals on “Even When I’m Sleeping”?), or Holidays on Ice, with Frente‘s Angie Hart and Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), or more recently on recordings with Tinkerbellslutbaby. Three singles have already been released from the album earlier this year; “Be My Friend”, “Casino Town” and “Messy Time”.  We are stoked to be able to bring the finished album, Sunday Mountain,  to you today for an Exclusive first look ahead of its release tomorrow.

He was joined again on this album by Stella Mozgawa on drums, along with multi-instrumentalist Justin Stanley (Beck, Prince, Leonard Cohen) who mixed the album.

It’s a beautifully well-crafted album. The instrumentation is varied and imaginative. Dean’s voice is always soothing and varied with the occasional use of the vocoder. This album is a skillful amalgam of dream-pop and shimmering melancholia.

We’re really delighted that Dean has provided a track-by-track writeup of the album.

Track by track (written by Dean Manning):

I tend to avoid guitar solos but Be My Friend called for something so I dusted off the Big Muff, fired one up and gave the walls a shake. A friend later said the solo “howls at the door like a dog that’s too crazy to let inside” which I took as a compliment.

There’s a few songs on the new record like Carry On that feature the vocoder which is one of my favourite instruments. It was once used to great effect by Kraftwerk. I will try anything to alter my voice, even consigning it to sound like a spaced out robot.

Making the Casino Town video was touch and go there for a minute. The day and night before the shoot it rained hard, not a good omen for a clip set in a borrowed convertible cruising the streets. The cast & crew of 15 people came from far and wide and rescheduling everyone wasn’t really an option. That night I lay there listening to the rain thinking of the alternatives but really, it could only be made one way. Thankfully it all came good. The shoot day dawned clear with just a few clouds and only just when we finished did it start to rain.

I’m really not sure what Red Egg is about but the title comes from the eggs that are dyed red for Easter.

The outro of Hola Senorita features an old wind up instrument called a Laterna. It’s the size of a small upright piano on wheels and works like a giant music box. There’s a guy who plays one here in Athens, pushing it through the streets, winding it as he walks. He’s always dressed in a suit and hat. One day we got chatting. He opened it up to show me what was inside. I recorded it there on the street.

I’ve had a video in mind for Twenty Paces for ages but haven’t had the means to make it. Basically I’m dressed as a Spartan soldier – the tunic, a plumed helmet, knee high leather boots and I’m facing off with a ferocious Amazonian lady warrior who wants to beat me to a pulp. We’re circling each other in a wide arc as I sing to her. She eyes me menacingly, sword in hand. I once proposed the idea to a director but he didn’t reply. Maybe it’s a dumb idea.

January 4 is one of the three instrumental kind on songs on the album. I enjoy freeing myself of lyrics and perhaps the day will come when I’ll do away with them all together.

I think I wrote a hundred verses for Messy Time over the year it took to write. I kept waiting for the click that never came. The evening before the mix session I recorded a version at home with a quick vocal, a few guitars and some bass as a kind of snap shot for posterity. After we’d finished the album I played it Justin Stanley who was mixing record. He listened a few times then jumped right in spinning his magic. Before I knew it the song was there.

A friend invited me on a picnic. We went up to the hills, to the forest overlooking town. It was a really lovely time. Back home that evening I started recording Sunday Mountain. I think I was trying to rewrite ‘Perfect Day’ but it came out back to front or upside down.

 

Listen to Sunday Mountain in full here.

 

There are no gigs immediately in the wind for Dean but do keep an eye on his website HERE for any announcements.

Sunday Mountain is available for download on all major online stores from the 6th September, 2019. Limited edition vinyl will also be available in selected stores.

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Bruce Baker

Bruce is a keen cyclist, gig-goer and photographer. Instagram at @bruce_a_baker

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