Blair Jollands moved to London 20 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand where he learned to master records before taking that skill to an audio post production studio in Soho. Since then he has completed sound design in film and TV with credits that include ‘Poldark’, ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ and ‘Pride’. He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on ‘Shackleton’ in 2002 and has garnered praise for his songwriting from none other than the late, great David Bowie who described one of Blair’s compositions, ‘Killing Landings’ as “a great song”.
Now, he has just released his latest album ‘7 Blood’, named after a Spanish mountain herb that helped cure him of Lyme disease which he contracted after being bitten by a tick three years ago. Blair would trek up a mountain in Spain to pick a herb which he distilled in vodka to make a remedy that his Spanish herb doctor called “seven blood” and so it seemed the obvious choice for the title of this new work when Blair was looking for inspiration.
‘7 Blood’ is Blair’s third album and is hugely influenced by his battle with the disease which must have flavoured his take on life and music. The result is so vast in scope that it’s taken me a while to write a review. This is not an album to listen to once and think that in any way, shape or form you can form an opinion. Recorded in mainly in London in Blair’s own studio in Kings Cross with many different production inputs it defies genre to such an extent that the listener is transported into a different place and time. Blair’s film work is hugely evident in the depth of the music with its background feeling like its borrowed from the sweeping soundtracks of Hollywood movies past. Then, that dramatic backdrop is littered with Spanish trumpets, disco strings, Ennio Morricone like guitar parts and even a hint of Pink Floyd backbeat.
All of these seemingly incompatible themes are pulled together by the hugely diverse vocals that Blair brings to the mix. One minute he’s like Byrne, another like Bowie. He’s been compared to Nick Cave and the incomparable Scott Walker and I can see all of that but my overriding feeling as I more and more enter this strange world has been a reminiscence of the brilliant and never fully appreciated Sparks vocalist Russell Mael, who had the ability to completely transport the listener in a variety of different directions and yet seem at one in his destination. Blair Jollands has this too.
This is not a release to cherry pick, it’s that incredible thing that seems to have disappeared. An album, a long player that track by track takes you on its journey. You will slowly start to enjoy the scenery rather than asking “ are we there yet?” and surely an album that continues to give new depth on each listen is one to own.
Blair Jollands has taken a huge melting pot and attempted to add every conceivable ingredient. This could have been a mess but the result is a collection of music that offers escapism and brilliance in equal measure and I implore you to take the journey.