Album Review: Phillinois – Blue Haze

Phillinois, real name Phil Gerigscott, is an Avant Garde electronic pop artist based in Portland, USA. Blue Haze is his lockdown project, a nine-track sonic exploration of a society suddenly changed and the changes that had on Phil.

By Graeme Smith

There’s a sense of timelessness in Blue Haze. Past, present and future become one as Phil draws on his history through samples from his college band while also creating compositions that push the envelope. This all happens through tracks with looping melodies that seem to prevent progress. It’s all a bit mind-warping.

Each looping track seems to take on a different mundane aspect of life and elevates it. Album opener Hardened, Bolder is a percussive reflection that feels like a stream of consciousness. Inanimate trudges along like waking up to a day with nothing to do. Ambiguous Cults is a stuck record ode to disillusionment. To Love Something is a never-ending, labyrinthine telephone dialling with snippets of voicemails.

The looping melodies hold the theme together while the album explores different genre influences. House Red is a warming moment, full of homely feelings, Bowie-esque operatic moments and clever wordplay. Cool Things is an alt-pop track with obsessive guitar plucking and distorted tenor vocals. Wanna Narrative goes a little industrial rock, setting up Ss / Sh. Perhaps the most out there track on the album, it combines all the previous influences together.

Blue Haze closes with Under The Big Sky. At almost five minutes, it’s the longest track on the album and feels like a grand odyssey. Starting cacophonous, it eases into a robotic verse, then a quiet organ-filled interlude, before hitting its percussive groove. An album as diverse and ambitious as this requires a strong closer, an Under The Big Sky is it.

For the past ten years, Phil has suffered from a chronic illness which means he is no longer able to play the guitar. In a case of triumph over adversity, he has changed the way he creates music. Not only does it show through his experimental compositions but also the tense feeling in his tracks – there is an undercurrent of pain there, often expressed through extended anguished vocals and simple, relentless melodies.

He tempers the introspection with just enough social commentary so that his music doesn’t feel self-indulgent – as Avant Garde music is often prone to be. Sure, you won’t be hearing anything by Phillinois on your local hits radio but Blue Haze is remarkably accessible, even at its most challenging moments. I strongly advise you to give it a go. I found it to be a blast of fresh air coming from a stagnant eighteen months.

Check out Blue Haze below.