Echo Us - 'Tomorrow Will Tell The Story' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 14, 2012    
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A completely immersive and rewarding experience.

Those of us with long memories may well recall that Ethan Matthews first appeared back at the turn of the century with his ambient progressive metal act Greyhaven. A band who were roundly praised for offering up a refreshing take on, even back then, a genre known for sticking to a rigid formula to the point of endless repetition. Much has happened to Matthews in the ensuing years, with a false start, including some live dates and a couple of EP’s for Echo Us, before the band stuttered to an early halt amid musical differences and health issues. The rebirth of the band, well I say band, but Echo Us is the vehicle of Matthews almost exclusively now, began in 2001, although after much time honing their sound, a debut album appeared in 2005, reshaping earlier ideas into the area of ambient progressive music. A further four years passed before the ‘The Tide Decides’ album surfaced, relying less on conventional song structures, instead offering up movements, or soundscapes that utilise synthesized sounds into jarringly uncomfortable, yet soothingly melodic passages that seduce, unsettle and confuse in equal measure. Although at no point were the results anything less than intriguing and masterfully constructed, with critical acclaim yet again falling onto Matthews work.

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‘The Tide Decides’ was the first part of a trilogy of releases that “tells a story of consciousness raising itself from earth-bound reality to higher forms” (no, that means nothing to me either), while musically the ethos is reinvigorated on this new effort, with award winning vocalist Henta and lever and pedal harp player Raelyn Olson joining Matthews, who handles vocals, voices and all manner of electronica. Deeply complex, resolutely uncompromising and strangely beautiful, the resultant album ‘Tomorrow Will Tell The Story’ is pleasingly difficult to describe, with elements of early Porcupine Tree fusing with ambient dance, while ‘Blade Runner’ era Vangelis competes with unearthly voices and sounds to create an album that is more mood music than structured songs. There are no verses or choruses, although themes do ebb and flow in and out of view across the album allowing a surprisingly huge amount of this disc to retain a memorable edge, commanding your attention as it washes over you with an atmosphere of carefree joy and melancholic despair. Everything about ‘Tomorrow...’ contradicts itself, other than its stark beauty, with the occasional burst of strident guitar (and I do mean very occasional) jarring against an almost Oriental inspired synth foundation, while the voices range from whispers and spoken word to oddly high pitched, artificially speeded up outbursts that somehow feel completely at home in a stick out like a sore thumb kind of way.

I have to admit than the first couple of times I gave this album a run through it came across as remarkably remote and difficult to engage with. However since then I’ve found it to be a completely immersive and rewarding experience.

Steven Reid

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