Fresh from wowing the theatre world with Nico Icon and The Rise and Fall of a Northern Star*, Stella Grundy goes dramatically far out with a new album, The Rise and Fall of a Northern Dubstar, which takes her semi-autobiographical character, Tracy Star, into new acidic sonic territory
Aided and abetted by Jah Wobble and top producer Mike Bennett, the album encompasses a delicatessen of soundscapes, ranging from Time Stood Still, where John Cooper Clarke slithers into the rock mix declaring 'I'm sick of the sight of myself'; to the dub of Dillinger in, er Dub Trap; to the hard core pounding of Rock n Roll Crime where the Membranes guest.
Meanwhile, the track, Lemons, is a classic Stella torch song for the 21st Century, and Supersize Industrial is a mashed up re-working of the headline track, Star, from the Rise and Fall play. Re-mixes of Supersize have already hit the top of the dance charts in the USA.
The whole concept album, which flies off in all kinds of weird, wonderful and psychedelic directions, is tied together by Stella's dreamy up-the-entry voice, and lyrics charting the rise and fall, and murky, dirty music biz that both alter ego Tracy Star and real life Stella have well trod.
Stella Grundy was there at the peak of Madchester with the band Intastella, which she's re-booted for this new venture...
"The Stella Grundy band wasn't exactly rolling off the tongue and I can't be bothered thinking of a new name" she decides "I'm not bothered that people might think this is heritage as it clearly isn't because they are all new songs. I don't mind if it puts bums on seats, they can call it heritage but it is brand new stuff and I think Intastella is a bit of a lost gem.
"I really don't think we've been on that vintage tour or re-releasing stuff so hopefully this is a bit different" she adds "But it does have a wry look at music history and my story through it as well."
Nowhere is this clearer than in the lyrics of the title track and first single, The Rise and Fall of a Northern Dubstar...
'And god created Manchester in psycho-delic techno-colour splat
Gone were the overcoats replaced with flares in psycho-delic techno-colour splat
This is the Rise and Fall of a Northern Star
This is the Rise and Fall of a Norther Dubstar
The Japanese arrived. Buying our ghosts and shirts off our backs
A global commodity in psycho-delic techno-colour splat...'
While the words look back in some kind of anger, the sound is now and wazzed up to the max...
"They are different songs from the first album" Stella explains "The producer, Mike Bennett, came to see me and thought he'd like to re-imagine it. It was hard for me to get people to listen to it seriously as they thought it was just the theme music to the play, which it wasn't it was a proper album.
"But this has gone up a notch, with production values and the collaborations...a proper record if you like" she adds "It's got the sound of something that's been done to a high standard. I thought the songs were of a high standard before but I couldn't do much more with them, they were almost demo like but still had a charm.
"With this I've just realised a few wishes really" she says "There's a lot going on, I didn't have to obey any rules with this. There's not a massive commercial market waiting for me out there in the mainstream so I may as well be experimental while I'm still on earth."
The Rise and Fall of a Northern Dubstar, the single, is out this week, with the same named album to follow on 22nd September.
See the album preview video on YouTube – click here
Pre-order the album on iTunes £7.99 – click here
Intastella play the Musicians Against Homelessness Benefit Show at Night and Day, Manchester on Thursday 28th September 7:30pm £7.70 (click here for details) and have a national tour next year, including headlining the O2 Ritz in February 2018 with Jah Wobble and guests Nick McCabe and Craig Gannon (click here for details).
For more details and album previews see www.intastella-news.com/
See also www.facebook.com/Intastellastellagrundy/ and www.facebook.com/theriseandfallofanortherndubstar/
*See previous Salford Star review of The Rise and Fall of a Northern Star – click here