Graham Hulbert’s new solo project

Posted 11th June 2024

Graham Hulbert is a familiar face on the Milton Keynes music scene; fans of the hard-hitting and alternative will know him most recently as the frontman with Our Man in the Bronze Age, and Broken Castles.

When not delivering the musical drama with them, he has discovered another way to get his kicks – exploring with the new solo project, Renormaliser.

“It started life as me just noodling around in my basement with no real focus or goal, making new sounds, learning new instruments and doing whatever came to mind,” Graham told Pulse Music.

And with no creative restraint he didn’t know where it would go: “It was strange being creatively free to do anything I felt like but I also needed to self assess and then confront notions of what is subjectively ‘good’. I enjoyed the idea of a lack of restraint but at the same time wanted to make it engaging and listenable as opposed to just descending into self indulgent chaos,” he paused, “…
that’s for album Number two!” he laughed.

It was the challenge that made equal parts interesting and daunting,” he admitted. “A few of the tracks are older ones I had knocking about and never had anywhere to put them but most of it was written in December and January, then I spent a month refining the songs and mixing it all.”

When we spoke with him earlier this year, Graham was still debating releasing Dwellings, but in time he parked his anxieties and went for it.
“Usually, you have the safety of a band behind you with a new release but when it’s just you it feels somewhat more vulnerable,” he reflected.
But while this was never meant to be a live proposition, Graham is eyeing up the stage from a distance.

“Now it’s here, it does feel like it would be fun to explore…”
Graham talks us through Dwellings – Track by track:

32 Minutes
It’s me experimenting with drums, beats and synths to see what I could make. Coming from a heavy guitar rock band background, for me it was a different approach with sounds I hadn’t explored before. The song loosely deals with the concept of the last half an hour of your life, but it’s more out of curiosity and fascination than something depressing.

Bodies In Motion
I’d spent the evening trying to learn piano theory, but after hours of that relatively fruitless excursion, I heard the bassline in my head, abandoned the keys and just went with it. It’s got a Battles-ey vibe and I deliberately wanted to add some wonky guitars and oddly placed drums to accentuate the almost funk feel of the track.

Little One
Maybe an anti-love song. It is quite cynical and about superficiality. A lot of the songs on this album started life as a bassline and an underlying rhythmic idea. Little One is definitely in that category. I liked the idea of a dark ballad with some grimey-ness and groove to it.

Waiting For
This is probably my favourite track on Dwellings, I just like the combination of floaty instruments and a fairly driving beat with loads of little percussion-ey things coming in and out.

Never Better
I chucked in some Gilmour-esque guitar rhythm parts here, which I wouldn’t normally do. The title is a little sarcastic and perhaps more truthfully tied into mental health issues that I’m interested in and also suffer from!

I set out to write out something that would suggest one rhythm at the beginning and then resolve in a different one as I love little musical tricks like that.. I wanted to keep things sparse and predominantly led by melody and rhythm which became the approach I took to most of the songs on Dwellings.

Don’t Be Afraid
It’s fairly obvious that I take a lot of influence from Radiohead, and this track wears that on its sleeve. I wanted something floaty and sombre that was piano led with a dream-like feel to it. I’m not a very proficient piano player and really just fumble around until I find chords that sound good. This was one of those happy accidents!

The All Blinking Eye
A really old song of mine from my solo acoustic days in Brighton, I’ve always really liked it, but questioned whether to include it as it’s a markedly different sound to the rest of the tracks but I also don’t like to feel that I ‘should’ stick to a particular style
I like the sort of bluesy roll of it which to me is reminiscent of Fink, another big influence of mine.

Go listen: Dwellings in on all major streaming platforms, and on Bandcamp.