El dúo londinense Echo Lake acaba de publicar su segundo larga duración, este bonito Era, un disco en el que inciden en lo que apuntaron en su primer trabajo (Wild Peace, 2012), ahondando más quizás en sonoridades más cercanas al Shoegaze más electrónico, ambiental o a lo que otros entenderán como Dream-Pop.
Ciertamente, sus descubrimientos no son muchos, pero sus siete temas se dejan oír fácilmente y no tienen ninguna incidencia ni estridencia reseñable (ya hablábamos de ésto en la reseña de hace dos años). En ellos, nos podemos encontrar ecos de Cocteau Twins, del Kraut, de los inevitables My Bloody Valentine, de algunos rasgos Psicodélicos, incluso de algunos destellos de los sesenta (el famoso Wall of Sound Spectoriano).
La música de Echo Lake probablemente peque de cierta frialdad, (cualidad que generalmente podemos encontrar en muchas de las bandas Dream), aunque la belleza intrínseca de sus composiciones es la baza que Era juega a su favor.
“Opener “Light Sleeper”, with its Krautrock synthesiser accompaniment, sets the mood of the record; intense, yet bittersweet. It’s also the first of many references to the unconscious, with the sleep and dream motifs of many of the songs mirrored by the hypnotic, somnambulant feel of the arrangements. The singing is a blur of sound throughout; the words are only occasionally audible, which fits their spacey atmosphere in the same way Liz Fraser’s voice did with the Cocteau Twins.
The song titles – which consist of either one or two words – like the songs themselves, are frequently onomatopoeic, most literally on “Waves”, the first single from the album. Starting with a marching band snare and a simple piano hook, the tremolo guitars dovetail the reverb-drenched vocal with an undulating funk bassline underneath it. If My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields produced The Ronettes “Be My Baby”, it would sound something like this. It flits between moods, but the overriding emotion is sadness (one of the few discernible lines is “I haven’t slept today, are you walking away?”).
The title track is as poppy as Echo Lake get. With pared down drums which again employ a 60s girl band shuffle, it evokes the mellifluous and heart raising feel thatThe Jesus and Mary Chain brought to “Just Like Honey.” The vocal gives way to a lovely instrumental passage where the key and tempo shifts ever so subtly and unexpectedly into, well, not quite folk pop, but certainly a softer guitar jangle than elsewhere on the record.
“Dröm”, which naturally is the Swedish word for “dream”, starts with nearly three minutes of immersive feedback, before the drums and voice enter the fray and the song keeps building and adding colour throughout a delightful, never dull eight minutes. “Nothing Lasts” is a heartbreaker bathed in a warm sunlight glow, with touches of acoustic guitar underscoring the spaced out vocal, alongside a sparse rhythm and keyboards. You can easily imagine it stripped down to just guitar and voice, for all the atmospherics and embellishments of the arrangement, at heart it’s a simple lullaby, a paean to enjoying the moment, but also a lament about ephemera. “Don’t waste your heart on it, it doesn’t matter to me.”
The closing “Heavy Dreaming” returns to the theme of the unconscious. It clocks in at just over ten minutes, but it’s so well executed it doesn’t outstay its welcome. There’s a wonderful guitar hook that sounds like the psychedelic droning The Byrdsexplored on “Eight Miles High”. The vocals sound angelic rather than ominous and ebb and flow, occasionally submerged underneath the music. The refrain picks up around the five minute mark and from there on in it’s a guitar bliss out par excellence.
As an elegy to Hayes, Era is a beautifully crafted tribute to their friend, but it’s also a statement of intent, which is to keep moving and create music that mixes the ups with the downs, euphoria with despondency, in a voice that is their own. With the reformations of some of its leading lights, shoegaze is suddenly back in fashion, but with Era, Echo Lake are walking their own dreamlike path. Perhaps we should call what they do ‘newgaze’ instead” (The Line of Best Fit)
Tardes de Agosto
Tarde calurosa de Agosto en el Sur. La canícula aprieta a más no poder. La hora de la sobremesa ha pasado, y ese adormecimiento que se presenta en forma de somnolencia comienza a invadir todo mi cuerpo. Es casi imposible resistirse. Para acompañar la tarde, retransmisiones deportivas en la televisión. No soy de documentales, me aburren supinamente. Y como último aderezo, música sonando en mis oídos a un volumen no demasiado elevado. Todo ésto confluye en una sensación de paz interior que desemboca en un leve letargo de unos breves minutos.
La banda sonora de ese instante: Echo Lake. Los londinenses han aligerado carga pesada y han presentado este álbum de debut como una de los grandes momentos en el panorama Dream-Pop. Un trabajo que rebosa belleza por todos sus poros. Un disco que nos devuelve a lo mejor de la escena post My Bloody Valentine pasados por el filtro de eso que han dado en llamar Pop-Ensoñador (algo así como tomar ciertas canciones de Brian Wilson bajo el paraguas de Galaxie 500). Personalmente, todo hay que decirlo, también me invade una cierta sensación de sopor en tanto que Wild Peace transcurre demasiado plano, sin ningún tipo de alteración o variación sonora. Una cosa está clara: hay un determinado tipo de música para cada ocasión o para ciertos momentos del día. Está claro que con la música de Echo Lake no vas a ir a tu club nocturno a pincharla buscando el acompañamiento danzante de los presentes. La música de Echo Lake se disfruta de otra forma, en las tardes de Agosto buscando la hora de la siesta.
“Occasionally, an act existing beneath your radar spins suddenly into your world with something so full of joy, so full of unbridled creativity, and so encrusted with jewels of love and care that you’re simply glad its trajectory broke the surface ripples of your life. And thus it is with Echo Lake’s Wild Peace.
Formed from the South London art-school creative collision of Thom Hill and Linda Jarvis, the duo’s debut record shines with a sheen of belief that implies a deep affection for their creations, coupled with an iron will and confidence. In many bands, this combination can too often settle out as a sloppy, unfocused mass; masquerading as ‘experimental’. In the case ofWild Peace, the outcome reveals itself as something striking, singular and mercurial; stridently marking out Echo Lake as one of 2012’s most exciting breakthrough acts.
Oh sure, there are lines of influence here. Jarvis’s fallen-choirgirl-in-a-rainstorm vocals may hint at Bilinda Butcher’s softer moments, while the music swirls around with an M83/Beach House dream-state innocence, underscored by the treble and reverb-heavy crunches of Galaxie 500 and The Jesus and Mary Chain (also evident in their clear love of classic Phil Spector/Brian Wilson song arrangements). But that’s where the comparisons need to cease, as they serve little further purpose when considering an album that stands perfectly straight and tall upon its own bedrock. Because despite influences, Echo Lake have an approach that states that the song comes first, and the music complies and dances to the underlying tune. Take, for example, the stunning, standout ‘Last Song of the Year’, which having dazzled in its complex, dense, Sixties girl-band heaven for 90 seconds, suddenly explodes into the sort of neck-arching Les Paul riff that made Definitely Maybe seem so immediate and sky punching in 1994. See, anything goes with Wild Peace. And it is precisely that uniqueness of approach that makes it such a thrilling, individual and continuously rewarding suite of music.
There are so many ideas flitting around the record; so many different element of melody. Like an onion, each subsequent layer reveals more sweetness and succulence underneath, with chord changes abound under the drifting clouds of reverb, fuzz and distortion. But never does it become overwhelming: Hill and Jarvis are intelligent and judicious enough with their pruning to prevent their multitude of ideas strangling the underlying themes. The flowers and fronds bloom, yet the water still runs clear. And it is precisely this careful balance – pivoting between technical talent and the open heart of a songwriter – that compels you to discover more. They let the songs speak. And when they speak, they speak eloquently. The tumbling, swelling minor-chord progressions, cuts, and regretful sleeve-tugs of opener ‘Further Down’. The chiming, nursery-rhyme melodicism and explosive finale of ‘Another Day’. The magnificent title track’s alternate take on The Suburbs’ self-aware claim to the bigger stages. The sonic washing-machine whirl of ‘Monday Morning 5AM’. The post-coital comedown of ‘Swimmers’. And then finally, the jangling, slowly unfolding recollections of ‘Just Kids’, coyly holding back until it finally and gloriously explodes into life, carrying the album home in a supernova burst of guitar: as astounding a conclusion as it is fitting to what came before. These are songs for big stages, on bright days, for broken hearts and lovers alike. And the confidence that Echo Lake imbue them with allows them to soar when others would self-consciously crouch in the corner. They believe; the record repays in spades.
Wild Peace serves as a glorious realisation of when a band chooses to stride out and actually DO, rather than just saying ‘I should’, ‘I might’ or ‘I could’. It is brave, it is bold; it is sharply chiselled and dextrously moulded. And above everything else, it sounds profoundly effortless. In an age where so much is made of authenticity and ‘does it sound like this, or this?’, Echo Lake sidestep it all by simply having beautiful songs and concocting a sound so dense, heady and intoxicating that comparisons become irrelevant in the bigger picture.
Rarely in the past few years has mist and swirl seemed so gorgeously enticing, mystical and engaging. And as far as shoegaze, dream-pop, distortion and ambience goes, Echo Lake redefine what is possible by taking the simple approach: by which I mean, being a band whose primary motivation is the first-hand creation of real and joyful experiences, rather than simply festooning the bare walls with tacky, gaudy tapestries and waiting aimlessly for the partygoers to arrive and inject life into the sterile surroundings.
Wild Peace sighs and soars; melts and merges with you and ultimately, delivers many times more than the mere sum of its parts. Of its particular genre, it’s something truly magnificent and possibly boundary redefining. In any field, it can comfortably jostle for elbow-space with the finest records of 2012 thus far. Wonderfully accomplished in construction, devastatingly powerful in delivery, Echo Lake have just raised the bar one notch higher for everyone around them” (drownedinsound.com)
Otro de los discos aparecidos a comienzos de año que reseñamos hoy en TJB es este Ep de debut de los londinenses Echo Lake: Young silence (Ep, 2011). Un disco preñado de todos esos efectos que erosionaron la escena británica a finales de los ochenta y comienzos de los noventa con las bandas de los entonces llamados Shoegazers: reverberaciones, ecos, sonidos de guitarras engrandecidos y desarrollados hasta la extenuación, y ese cierto aura de misterio y de cierta tenebrosidad en sus letras, actitud y atmósfera en general.
Pues bien, Echo Lake hacen gala de casi todos esos elementos de manera metódica y algo seguidista en este Young silence, añadiéndole algunos elementos adicionales, como un cierto rasgo de Psicodelia que le viene muy bien a muchos temas. Un disco que satisface las ansias Shoegazers de cualquier buen aficionado, ya sea en su vertiente ambiental (Memory lapses, Everything is real, In dreams) o en su faceta más Noise (Young silence, Sunday evening). Aprovechable.
“Sometimes it’s just too hard to get over those horrible Valentine’s Day experiences. You fervently squint your eyes to try and blank out some of the horrendously childish things you’ve done, or those evenings that just didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped. After all, we’re all supposed to be ‘anti’ the entire premise of this charade, and yet are ensconced in a world of reminders at just how vital this one day is to your love life. Well, without the nostalgic make up, good or bad, you wouldn’t be the person you are today – remember that. It’s all character building, eh? And whether you may be lonesome tonight or in the heart of someone else, there will be a soundtrack to what you do and where you do it, and that could well be comfort enough. So whether Echo Lake had their eye on this very day to release their debut EP into the world is for cynics amongst us to discuss at peril – what cannot be ignored, however, is just how relevant and thought provoking their sound is to this perilous and oft-synthetic time of year.
From the initial murmurs of guitar noise on opener ‘Sunday Evening’, the waves of delay, the pluck of every string and the salacious juxtaposed melodies reel you into a world based on heart-wrenching memory – maybe not always fond, but always important. As the song snaps in with a striding drum beat and choral chimes of lead guitar melodies, you’d be almost forgiven to think that some Ian Brown wannabe was set to storm in on this ornate dreamscape and ruin the experience for all and burst these intricately composed thought bubbles. Instead, an angelic vocal of increasingly layered beauty swims its way around and through the engulfing whole, clasping on to your hand and stringing you through the mist as you float through the aural delights of this first chapter of Young Silence.
Now, while it may seem a bit hyperbolic with all those metaphors firmly in place, you’d be hard pressed to find other words, superlative or otherwise, to describe it. From that point in, Young Silence, in its whole and in its momentary nature, manages to play with a spectrum of emotions through an immense tableaux of sounds, noises and melodies that can only be compared to the hopelessly romantic cortexes of your brain. It’s as if all of the visual stimuli that you may have ever been impassioned about has been filtered into a soundtrack of the perfect, 80s teen film that only exists in your head.
Appropriately, second track ‘In Dreams’ follows on from that initial ocean of noise and ever so slightly slows down the tape reel, leaving those aforementioned apparitional vocals to whip you into a romantic hypnosis before being subtly lifted to a new high by percussive shakes and synthesised stabs of organs. ‘Everything Is Real’ then leads you to a slumber-within-slumber – it could even be a sonic reinterpretation of a slow dance for Marty McFly, leaving you on the loving periphery of a beautiful moment that you know can be real but is painfully untouchable within the ether you reside in. It’s only once lead single ‘Young Silence’ reinvigorates the senses with its popping candy opening of hazy noise and infectious chorus – with its beautifully raw and aching vocal – that your heartbeat starts to race again, replenished by a new lease of life or love or whatever sees you transfixed to this gloriously innocent cry for attention.
Once the repetitions of ‘Buried At Sea’s Berlin-like walking basslines close down under a shroud of whimsically beautiful piano lines that, you are left with only your own thoughts once more. Only those thoughts have suddenly been realigned into a string of only the happiest available to you, leaving you with a companion that isn’t watered down by any precursor attempts at somehow marketing the love you have. Echo Lake seem to already be masters of this peak and trough depiction of love and warping your romantic beliefs into something unimaginable before immersing yourself into their music. Demonstrating such a talent within the space of a five track EP is no mean feat and it would be a cliche to say that “Here, we have a set of songs that you will be sure that you’ve heard before…”. Somehow they’ve done that very thing without feeling contrived or weighed down by their memories whilst massaging those of their listeners into a higher state of comfort and near-bliss.
Releasing this EP on Valentine’s Day, then, seems amazingly appropriate as it is an EP, like those memories, that will be hard to forget” (thelineofbestfit.com)