El Sledge (+) — Doom
(Airaid records , 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-07-11
As the two piano notes, colorful cascade, and acoustic guitar opening with voice at the beginning of the first cut gives way and builds to a more edgy and anguished rock, one might detect a collision of torment and tumult amid the alternative rock approach, seemingly informed by the likes of some of the heavier (but not metal) progressive bands of the past (King Crimson perhaps), but also some nice jazz, avant, and psychedelic elements. Within these notes and measures lie the creative sparks that erupt into a full blown din, while at the same time offering appropriate melodic and rhythmic structures that give it the necessary form and feeling to keep it interesting and highly original. There is real emotion here, both in the lyrics (what one can hear of them), the vocal delivery, and the instrumental attack. And things just keep getting more interesting as the disc proceeds: “The Penticost Broadcast” gets overshadowed by the dark artistry and pensiveness of “Golgotha” which follows it, which in turn makes way for the pure mania of “Primal Scream.” By the time we get to “Ancient Religion / The Eschaton” we are on a frenzied rollercoaster ride into apocalyptic territory. El Sledge was originally just one – Matt Graboski on vocals, guitar, and effects. After drummer Steve Sroka joined forces, the (+) was added for the band’s debut Fletcher’s Last Night. Now Jay Graboski (ex-Oho) is on board as bassist for Doom, which is (if one believes the band’s website) the final piece of the El Sledge (+) vision. Where does it go from here? Does the world just end in flames? I guess we will have to wait and find out, but while we wait, don’t miss out on this moment.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.