Moraine — Groundswell
(Moonjune MJR066, 2014, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-10-01Far from just another Moraine album, this Seattle based five-piece is evolving by leaps and bounds with each new release, and Groundswell offers ample evidence of this growth. The band today includes founder and guitarist Dennis Rea (also covering electronics and Mellotron), James DeJoie on baritone sax and flute, electric violinist Alicia DeJoie, eight-string stick bassist Kevin Millard, and new since the band’s last release – drummer Tom Zgonc. The compositions, with the exception of two pieces by persons outside the band, are written individually by Rea and James and Alicia DeJoie, excellent composers all three. The material covers a lot of ground, from the thrashy and bluesy rocker “Gnashville,” to the impressive chamber-like mood piece “Spiritual Gatecrasher” that slowly evolves into some inspired but measured improvisation over its seven minute duration. Most of what’s here tends to exist somewhere between the worlds of jazz-rock fusion (with some strong hints of early Mahavishnu, probably more because of the powerful use of electric violin leads than anything else) and a complex crimsoid geometric rock approach, though the unusual instrumentation used to reach these ends offers a textural originality rarely heard, exemplified on the Rea-penned second track “Skein,” and the busy and brilliantly complex “Synecdoche.” Throughout one can hear eastern Asian threads blended within the melodic fabric, more on tracks like “Fountain of Euthanasia” and “In That Distant Place” but to a lesser extent on several other numbers. Opener “Mustardseed” starts off slow paced but quickly moves into a world of noisy free rock improv while maintaining its melodic drive. Measure by measure, this is an outstanding group of players and composers that impress at every level.
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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.