Echo Us - The Tide Decides


Year of Release: 2009
Label: Musea Parallele
Catalog Number: MP 3090
Format: CD
Total Time: 69:02:00

The Tide Decides is the latest release from Echo Us, the group formed by ex-Greyhaven guitarist/synthesist Ethan Matthews, who is joined by bassist Aaron Bell, among others. After listening to this CD in various locales* at various volumes, I've come to view it as what might happen if some small part of Marillion collided with mid-to-late period Pink Floyd and 90s-era Tangerine Dream (mostly the latter). There's a prog metal element to it as well, but this is not a core feature. In truth, it's a mix of all these - psychedelic-ambient-rock-metal. And I'll note that I think Matthews as vocalist sounds like Steve Hogarth**. It's dreamy and languid, fervent and urgent, acoustic and electric. The most traditional prog rock moment comes with track seven, "Fantastic Elevation," which channels elements of Marillion and IQ.

What my trite use of the "sounds like" device means is that you can expect to hear chilly synth work and tinkling percussion, sparse, hazy and treated vocals (and the occasional use of spoken-word sound bytes), the warm addition of viola (Teri Untalan) ? There is at times a decidedly Asian feel to the arrangements, mostly in use of harp (Raelyn Olson) and taut, plucked acoustic guitar. It's the chugging drums (Andrew Greene), and distorted, sometimes searing guitars that bring in the metal element.

There are 10 distinct tracks, but the album should be viewed as all of a piece, as a natural flow links them all together. While The Tide Decides is a concept album, it's a concept album with linear progression rather than strict linear story. I think Matthews' synopsis, posted at their website, explains his intent best:

The Tide Decides brings forth a life, living as if it moved in tandem and perfectly parallel with the entirety of human existence. From birth through evolution, to perish or reincarnate The Tide Decides concept is of a fantastic nature, and loosely ties to philosophical ideas and ideals of a new (meta) physics, new age, and the falling away of chronological human consciousness.

It is very much a crafted work, as Matthews describes in the online info booklet, also available at their website. He says, in part:

Nearly every sound encapsulated in this recording is specifically designed to compliment the sounds around it. This original and tedious approach to music "answers itself" from a unique beginning point of creation to beyond its musical ether. It does not rely on building sounds from already sculpted library and conventional studio techniques - even when compared to the vast array of digital manipulations being used today. Every sound is chosen and sculpted against all the others creating a "circle of sound" - rising from one singular point, which is most often the words and message. [?]"

When I think about what the term Progressive means, what this album is trying to accomplish seems to be the perfect example (without getting into the "what is prog" debate). For one, we have the dictionary definition of the word; that is essentially, to push forward, outwards, maybe even inwards with the act of creating music.

While it's not in conflict with the music, some may find the vocal effects too reedy and thin, and they together with the synth work too cold. I think this myself, but also think that if they were warmer, we'd have an entirely different effect. In the album notes, Matthews also makes mention of "a metaphysical approach to music with fantasy or ?theoretical? story telling - from what seems like an alien universe." It's this chilly ethereal presentation that lends itself to that "alien universe". I think this is all part of the plan, given the cool blues, purples and whites of the album artwork (whiich ties in w/the sea).

Nevertheless, the instrumental work is beautiful and engaging, and, as it was designed to do, takes you on a journey. The Tide Decides is an interesting release that bears a deeper sort of listening and further examination. Recommended.

You can find the full colour lyric booklet at their website, too, and "actually" turn the pages... Album released in conjuction with Absolute Probability

*The pre-release CDR got jammed in the car CD player, so my usual drive-time experience was absent. **Yeh, "him" again?


Tracklisting:
From Snow To Sea (4:26) / We Surfaced (5:33) / Trans-Atlantic (10:56) / State Of Expectation (5:41) / The Tide Decides (5:11) / Fantastic Elevation (7:32) / Descending From The Dream (7:11) / Shooting Scenes (5:42) / Out At The Edge Of The World (5:17) / ...And Sea To Sky (Bon Voyage) (11:33)

Musicians:
Ethan Matthews - vocals, synths, guitars...
Raelyn Olson - harp
Aaron Bell - bass
Andrew Greene - drums

Discography:
Echo Us (2005)
The Tide Decides (2009)
Tomorrow Will Tell The Story (2012)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 1st 2010
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.echous.net
Hits: 1279
Language: english

  

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