Bio Blue States
Blue States releases his long awaited sixth album ‘World Contact Day’ on 18 March 2022 via Memphis Industries. World Contact Day arrives six years after the previous Blue States album, written and recorded partly at Dragazis’ Lightwell Recordings studio in Hackney featuring a combination of instrumental soundscapes and vocal songs that fall into draw on a wide palette of influences including Morricone, Vangelis, Beak, Broadcast and The Carpenters. Songs on the new record feature occasional guest vocals from the likes of Giampaolo Speziale and Federica Caiozzo of the Italian band, Malihini, English folk-musician, Rachael Dadd and Miami-based Allison May-Brice (The 18th Day Of May, Lake Ruth). Written under the backdrop of claustrophobic uncertainty and grief, Dragazis wanted to make an album of expansive escapism whilst also grounding musically in a more live approach than previous albums.
The album title World Contact Day was taken from two sources; 15 March, the day on which UFO society International Flying Saucer Bureau tries to contact alien lifeform. Dragazis felt like he was trying to contact alien lifeforms while recording some of the album over video calls. It’s also taken from a lyric in what Dragazis describes as “probably the greatest ever recorded song”, ‘Calling Occupants of Interstellar Craft’ made famous by The Carpenters, a song that also references World Contact Day. “I was obsessed by the track when I was a kid after I first heard it on the radio late one night,” explains Dragazis. “I was under the duvet with my radio and it came on a local radio station. The talk radio bit at the start totally freaked me out and I was convinced it was real and aliens had called in the radio station. I listened to the whole track in awe and listening to it now it still has a profound effect on me. Everything I like about music is in that song, escapism, mystery, joy, unease, strings, horns and the best ever guitar solo that I can actually play!”.
Blue States began in the late 90s with the young, movie soundtrack obsessed Dragazis writing and recording at his parent’s house in Sussex, UK. Working in a similar way to contemporaries like Air, Dragazis started mixing samples, primarily from film soundtracks with live self-played instruments. Music had always been around in his family, his father having been involved in the Greek pop scene of the 1960’s, jamming in Athenian clubs alongside pre-Aphrodite’s Child legends Demis Roussos and Vangelis.
The recordings found their way to nascent electronic label Memphis Industries, who went on to release a succession of pioneering 12”s including the smooth electro sweep of ‘The Trainer Shuffle’ and the filmic ‘Yé-Yé’ styling of ‘Your Girl’. A landmark album ‘Nothing Changes Under the Sun’ followed in 2000 and, having been critically lauded, became a surprise hit, seeing Dragazis form a band, tour the world and sign to XL Recordings. Subsequent albums Man Mountain and The Soundings saw Dragazis work with more traditional song structures (including Season Song, the title track of zombie film classic 28 Days Later) and collaborate with vocalists Ty Bulmer, latterly of New Young Pony Club, and old school friend Chris Carr. Two subsequent long players ‘First Steps Into..’ and ‘Restless Spheres’ saw Dragazis revert to working solo and heralded a return to his electronic origins with more extended, free form soundscapes.
‘World Contact Day’ opens with ‘Plain Sight’, the first of the Rachael Dadd featuring songs, thematically about escape and setting Rachael’s Sandy Denny-a-like vocals to a baroque pop backing. It’s followed by an instrumental ode to the humble wire in a world of wireless connectivity (“I trust wires and I understand them” says Dragazis). The second Rachael Dadd’s up next is ‘Tides Confusion’, a song about how waves of grief can come like tides, grounded on a pulsating electronic loop that evolves into live drums, horns and backing vocals representing the rising water. Next up is ‘Warning Signs’ featuring Giampaolo and Federica of Malihini, a track about looking after yourself because if you don’t, how can you look after anyone else? Two brilliant songs with Allison-May Brice light up side two of ‘World Contact Day’, the urgent, sparkling electronic pop of ‘Alarms’ and the epic, velvety torch song album closer ‘Science or Fiction?’ about the paleoanthropological fraudster Charles Dawson and the Piltdown Man hoax.
Blue States returns with a fine collection of music, up there with the best of his work, that blends soundtrack and song to brilliant effect. World Contact Day then, calling occupants of interplanetary craft from 18 March 2022.