Thursday, 5 February 2015

Art of the Cover - The Heavy Blinkers' "Health" (2013)

“The Heavy Blinkers go beyond simple accomplishment, and into the realm of masterwork thanks to the production and pure genius arrangements.”  
-- Rolling Stone 

A gorgeous, ambiguous, striking piece of cover art adorns Health - the fine fifth studio album by legendary idiosyncratic canucks The Heavy Blinkers. 

The artwork was created by renowned illustrator/ engraver/ painter, Iker Spozio, based on a piece of original art given to the band's head-honcho, Jason Michael MacIsaac.

Apparently, a few years back, MacIsaac mysteriously received a wood-carved image of a sailor standing alone on the edge of a turbulent sea. The naval officer calmly salutes a ship in the distance as it sinks into the waves. Meanwhile, the night glows all around him.

There are also other things at play in the image. The sailor salutes with his wrong hand. The perspective is off. The ship seems in real peril on the hungry angry waves. Meanwhile, the snow that falls in the evening sky is alive with a surreal light!

Furthermore, with it also being intepretable as a tribute to his father, who served in the military, MacIsaac knew the powerful, ambiguous image should be used as the cover to the band's next album.

And there's some truly gorgeous music in here, to boot. 

Released in 2013 under their self-titled record album, it was The Heavy Blinkers' first album in the 10 years since their wonderful - and wonderfully titled - The Night and I Are Still So Young LP.

The album features contributions from some stellar guests, including enigmatic Irish genius Sean O'Hagan (of Microdisney / High Llamas / Stereolab etc. fame).

The LP took shape over "endless sessions and long hours of meticulously arranging instrumental passages" and is set up as a musical, reflecting work  the band’s last remaining founding member MacIsaac had undertook with Zuppa Theatre, as well as while composing scores from film and television.

The record has a wartime theme to it, with character-driven tales sumptuously sung by Stewart Legere, Melanie Stone and Jenn Grant, with assistance from acclaimed Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche as well as the aforementioned O'Hagan.

Said to be inspired by Frank Sinatra's Watertown and Van Dyke Park's Song Cycle, the tracks on Health were culled from a selection of 30 songs. The final product apparently offers "lush new arrangements that revel in all the benefits of studio indulgence," including the harp-and-strings assisted "Anna Karina, I Was Wrong" and smoothed-out pop jam "Perfect Tourists."

Rolling Stone once rightly claimed, “The Heavy Blinkers go beyond simple accomplishment, and into the realm of masterwork thanks to the production and pure genius arrangements.” ..... And, happy to say, 'Health' very much holds true to this summation.

Each song delivers lush new arrangements that revel in all the benefits of musical mastery. Culled from 30 completed songs, the depth of the project is massive, but the focus is unparalleled.


1. As Long As You Have Your Health
2. Anna Karina, I Was Wrong
3. Child of the Radio
4. God Bless Hazel
5. Call it a Day
6. I Should Be Sleeping
7. Perfect Tourists
8. Silence Your Drum
9. Crystal Clear
10. It Sounds Better Than It Sounds
11. Waiting for a Riverboat
12. Why Must You Hide Your Light?
13. Mes Craintes Oubliees
14. Someone Died Today at the Ice Capades
15. When You Go
16. Everything Is Magic

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