I’ve ruminated on Echotide’s new LP for over a month now. “Into The Half Light” is apt to give one pause, but not by doing anything outrageous or particularly unique. Rather, it engages in a subtle way, tentatively, as if more interested in dialogue than sensorial conquest. Its innovations are fragile things, blended seamlessly into a robust, familiar formula. This record is an introverted friend, not a flamboyant romance. And that’s alright.
RELEASE DATE: 29 October 2017 LABEL: Self-released
Music, and indeed all art, has an intrinsic mirroring quality to it, which can completely overpower the artist’s initial intent. This is why certain songs or albums just don’t click at a certain time of life, but make perfect sense at another. For me, “Into The Half Light” is one of those albums. I can immediately recognize the quality of the work, the eye-catching little details that make it unique, but it’s as though my mind right now is just the wrong format to play this record on. Or, to take the allegory further, we’re running at slightly different speeds, or I just don’t have the right adaptor installed. And yet I can tell this album offers every chance to engage, and is thoroughly entertaining.
The keyboard work stands out the most, as a true backbone of the record. From delicate and elaborate patterns alluding to the style of singer-songwriters like Tom Odell, to prog-rock muscle in the vein of Steven Wilson, Matthew Martin’s piano and keyboard work on this record becomes the main narrative voice, possessed of generous eloquence and maturity. The drumming is also very good, peppering the tracks with subtle surprises, and lending great dynamic range to the record overall. On the flip side, I felt as though the bass and guitar work have become very utilitarian in a way, engineered, a sort of answer to the question “What is the most efficient and most effective way to achieve The Buildup?” Because, make no mistake, buildups are the most consistent motif of this release, egalitarian and epic. Each track gets at least one masterfully executed buildup, or I should say, each track is such a buildup.
This is perhaps the spot in which I feel the album and I simply don’t click beyond a professional appreciation. It is a thoroughly patient study of musical curves and parabolas, and is a fantastic place to start if you want to introduce someone to the language of post-rock, but I can’t help but feel it’s just a little too neat, a little too concerned with rounding corners and coloring inside the lines. Tracks like “New Beacons Cast to Old Horizons” have truly exciting moments of breathtaking instrumentation, with strings so perfectly programmed I would have had no idea they’re not an actual orchestra, had I not read the album liner notes. The tabla addition to the final track of the album, “No Such Things as Monsters” is another subtle, endearing detail, bringing urgency, playfulness and color. Moments such as these exist on virtually every track, and yet I am left wanting more. More ferocity, cleaner breaks from the established post-rock vocabulary, a stronger voice of dissent.
Speaking of the album notes, Echotide wrote a lovely paragraph describing the underlying intent of the album. “Into The Half Light” is about endings, neat or tangled, life-changing or banal. That singular purpose is felt throughout, with a finality to every track. It is quite jarring in fact, especially after the album opener, which really does feel like an apotheotic finale, especially as it’s followed by a sizeable stretch of silence, while most of the other tracks blend seamlessly into each other. This Benjamin Button-esque structure is part of the subtle uniqueness I mentioned before, and I can’t help but appreciate it. It particularly pays off in the second half of the record. Ultimately, the band managed to achieve precisely what they set out to do on this album, and they did it with flair. It’s just that their goals as a band, and my goals as a listener couldn’t quite align this time. And that’s alright.
WATCH | ECHOTIDE – HER BACK TO THE SUN [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
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