Boomkat Product Review:
Overlooked ‘80s classic *now available to download* alert! The debut solo LP by Wire/Dome’s Graham Lewis as He Said is a proto-new beat classic starring Brian Eno and Angela Conway up in it, and exemplary of post-punk and new wave’s natural transition to synthetic electronics and glossier pop by the mid decade, but with something more elusive and mutant in the air
After laying down one the earliest post-punk and avant rock templates with Wire in the mid-late ‘70s, then shifting into etheric experiments with Dome, Graham Lewis would get his groove on with He Said, resulting the deeply strange energies of his debut solo album ‘Hail’ in the breakwater year 1986. In a world of his own, Lewis layers uniquely expressive croon over killer rhythm tracks, animated with highly detailed and spatialized electronics and intricate dubbing that recalls Art of Noise and Kate Bush’s inventive work with samplers as much as the avant ends of Afro-American dance music pursued by Prince or YMO and related projects in Japan, yet still stands in a category of its own.
Opening with the deliciously groggy slink of single cut ‘Pump’ - which would become our first taste of He Said via inclusion on an early Belgian new beat mixtape erroneously credited to Fat Ronnie, and is long a perennial fave - the album persistently shapeshifts and tessellates its elements with beguiling style and pattern between the pitching sampler chicanery found on ’Shapes to Escape’, thru its other single cuts, the gasbrake-toggling stepper ‘Pulling 3gs’ and its slumped B-side ‘Pale Feet’, to a freakishly alien chamber music in closer ‘To & Fro’.
It’s a real one for production obsessives to drool over, deploying a patently inventive array of sampler/drum machines alongside processed guitars, with Eno’s hands on the DX7 under Lewis & Conway’s duet on the prowling ace ‘I Fall Into Your Arms’, and Blackwing Studios’ men behind the curtains, John Fryer and Eric Radcliffe aiding on “noises” and programming, best showcased in the Pricne-meets-Scott walker styles of ‘Only One I’, with its chest swell strings, and stately avant-pop sway of ‘Do You Mean That?’, again with superb Angela Conway contributions. Just a cursory listen will affirm it’s all on a plane of its own, from the expressive vocals to drum programming complexity and wild textures. And not gonna lie; we’d take Dome or He Said bits over Wire any day. What ya gonna do?!