Review : Echo Lake - Wild Peace
PitchforkEcho Lake is indeed a real place, and though it isn't exactly Springfield when it comes to American ubiquity, odds are there's one near you if you live in the states. It's popular for good reason: The phrase "Echo Lake" just sounds like a nice place to live (or make a record in Woods' case). Such assumed pleasantries also work towards the favor of this British group, since each individual word inhabits a lot of characteristics some people want out of indie rock as well: reverberant, liquid, tranquil, immersive. So you can't accuse Echo Lake of false advertising-- their debut, Wild Peace, is pure, dreamy indie rock laced with the more narcotic strains of shoegaze and untouched by modernity, with vocals and guitars awash in natural echo and keyboards that you wouldn't dare call "synths."
Echo Lake's laconic demeanor would have you initially believe Wild Peace isn't a bold record, but it does exude confidence in its own way. You don't have to be extroverted to be sure of yourself and Echo Lake is a band that trusts their influences and considers Slumberland a home rather than a stepping stone. Their language is sonically and lyrically commonplace, and the titles of "Monday 5AM", "In Dreams", and "Swimmers" are tellingly similar to those of songs previously written by the Clientele, Wild Nothing, and Real Estate. That's really the realm in which Wild Peace operates-- there's a distinct delicacy to this reclusive music that forgoes superficial thrill for subtle absorption, almost unerringly making for a passive listening experience. Tempos roll leisurely, percussion is used as much for texture as timekeeping, shakers and floor toms share equal billing with snares and hi-hats. Chords change by the bar, not by the beat and the melodies are only slightly more agile; vocalist Linda Jarvis is often lost in a thicket of her own overdubbed harmonies.
That's not to say Wild Peace is formless: "Another Day" finds a perfectly chipper vocal within a four-note range that perfectly pairs with Thom Hill's tart guitar riff and rides it out for the song's entirety. There's enough internal activity during "Even the Blind" to create a full-band dynamism over a melody that's basically one note moving as if suspended in a light gelatin. You could argue for its having the most dynamic buildup or the most striking harmonies because it does, but it's more likely the immediate standout simply because it hammers home its chorus the most times.
With that in mind, you might think Wild Peace would benefit more from the visceral than the ethereal, yet it starts to distinguish itself from its long-established template when the band gets less edgy. The rockers are too rigid, too indebted to the aspects of Spacemen 3 that are out of reach: The fuzzed-out roar of "Young Silence" and "In Dreams"' krautrock pulse feel like a band completing prerequisites rather than discovering themselves. More intriguing is the aching, almost oriental harmonizer applied to the guitars of instrumental "Monday 5AM", a mid-album dip into the heavy waters of Grouper. The nearly beatless "Further Down" and the title track achieve a similarly naturalistic, sun-staring psychedelia, ashen distortion and organ drone flittering about like visual floaters. But that's the thing about a record on which so many of the arresting sounds are borne of decay: Once you leave Wild Peace, it's pretty much gone....full text
ThelineofbestfitThis debut finds Echo Lake throwing a rather extraordinary sonic party; Beach House, the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine wander in and out and we’re sat propped up against walls in silence with totally blissed grins on our faces. Guitarist Thom Hill and lead singer Linda Jarvis plus band conjure up a graceful storm, and it’s as if nothing and everything happens all at once. And you’ll never want to leave, because once you’ve heard these ten tracks the outside world will seem like a painfully noisy, pointless irritation compared to the ethereal kicks you could be having with this London-based bunch.
Wild Peace doesn’t actually start as such, it’s breathed and whispered into being; ‘Further Down’, the first of a stunning set of swirling, dreamlike shoegaze epics, that slowly slides into focus propelled by crunchy riffs and sighing vocals. Is there an air of menace to it too? We’re one track in and already too numb to tell. ‘Another Day’ is a more precise, straightforward pop follow-up, all lovely rattles and nagging guitar lines that follow its haunting melody, before the title track sees Echo Lake build on their sound, adding more and more layers before filtering it all away again to nothing. By this point, and having not yet put a foot wrong, the band somehow get even better.
Now there’s something strangely comforting about the fact that we can’t actually make out what Linda Jarvis is singing about so prettily on this record. Tales of pure horror, or ponies: we’re none the wiser, but on ‘Even The Blind’ we get our first glimpse into her mind as she invites us to “go outside tonight and look at the sky” before closing with the track’s infectious mantra of “even the blind can see”. Still not making much sense to us, admittedly, but it’s a bewitching sentiment and as the lo-fi, clipped rhythms and riffs creep and shimmer, Wild Peace really picks up the pace, the band driven by more thrilling momentum than previously....full text
GoldflakepaintLooking into the music scene it’s sometimes hard to find which direction everything is heading. To an onlooker, a recent statement made by Claire Boucher’s (AKA Grimes) could indeed cause some concern. If you’re not aware of it, she described herself in an interview with Nardwuar as “future-pop”. If this has indeed sent the fear of god into your little self than maybe I have an alternative; Echo Lake. A Beach House meets My Bloody Valentine affair. So if Grimes is a little on the rough side then maybe you should take a more scenic route.
Echo Lake is the love child of Linda Jarvis and Thom Hill, and it is they who form the backbone of the group. Having come far in the past two years, they have finally launched their debut LP, ‘Wild Peace’, collecting all their efforts together for us to admire. Both have found their own style that sits wonderfully in the dreamy, shoegaze mist of the indiesphere.
Describing Echo Lake’s debut in a couple of words seem to be tough business. Thom brings choppy, messy cosmic swathes of guitar while Linda’s husky croon sends your mind spinning wild in some distant orbit. Thom has taken what is very simply an indie rock back and injected a heart, giving their sound life and electrifying their noise; creating a whole new dimension. It appears that there is a new trend dawning within the indie scene, with Grimes and the likes of Beach House producing some rapturously received music there is clearly plenty of room for this type of sonic “mess”.
Vocally Linda’s lucid, ghostly husk kicks the album off. Although at times it is hard to decipher; it’s not in the least bit sterile and carries you like a breeze, leaving you to decide in what direction you are to float. Each track is beautifully layered, leaving you to kick back in Thom’s dreamy dissidence through the elegant waves created. Around all this sunkissed fuzz it is plainly clear that there is some exceptional attention-to-detail applied to each of the many components, setting the pair high above the rest.
‘Another Day’ is a perfect example for all of this, showing the pairs ability to use vocals as another emotive tool, creating a feature that is prominent but one that seems just like another piece of the weave. ‘Even The Blind’ is perhaps one of the best tracks on the LP; it spirals up to giddy heights after moments of pure musical poetry, causing you to do nothing but smile at it’s simple surprise. Eventually, the guitars and high-end vocals are submerged by the myriad of other looped textures to eventually fall into ‘5AM’; a purely instrumental centre-piece, but one which never feels alien even in such an expansive album....full text
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