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Echo Us - Tomorrow Will Tell The Story CD (album) cover

TOMORROW WILL TELL THE STORY

Echo Us

 

Neo-Prog

3.41 | 15 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Tomorrow Will Tell The Story' - Echo Us (7/10)

Imagine a collaboration between Peter Gabriel, Vangelis, and Alvin & The Chipmunks, and you might get an impression of what Echo Us are all about. Sure, this might sound like a ridiculous way to describe a band, but this US progressive act makes the weirdness work, to some extent. As such, 'Tomorrow Will Tell The Story' has received some polarized criticism, and in all honesty, I'm not sure what to think of it. On one hand, Echo Us have a brilliant skill with texture in their sound, but this is offset by a relatively weak sense of composition. In the end, Echo Us demonstrate plenty of potential, but lack the sort of focus to completely realize it.

Around this point, I might imagine someone reading this would be wondering what I meant about the Chipmunks reference. First, it should be made clear that the music of Echo Us never sounds silly enough so as to be not taken seriously. Instead, the comparison should be taken by the meaning that Ethan Matthews and co. frequently make use of voice manipulation. Although Ethan sings normally here as well (passing me as a cross between the voices of Peter Gabriel and Roger Waters), it is common for the voices to be tweaked or modified, usually to the point where they will sound more like another instrument than 'singing'. Considering that Echo Us is heavily based in synth and electronic music, this vocal weirdness usually works brilliantly.

Ethan Matthews has a musical vision that can be a little difficult to pin to one particular style. The music usually treads between Vangelis-style electronica and world music. However, sound and texture are brighter points in his work than the facets of structure and composition. In fact, 'Tomorrow Will Tell The Story' comes off as a fairly scattered album. The music follows its pleasantly dreamlike course, but the vast majority of Matthews' compositions feel like sketches, or rough ideas in need of focus. The exception to this meandering stretch is 'The Light It Moves, En Vie est Lumière' through 'The Echoes Of Era'; part of the larger 'Archaeous Of Water' suite. Here, Matthews channels his strange melodies and textures into something that really works. Even here, it can feel like Echo Us is throwing every musical idea hey can think of on the table, but the best ideas are developed and fleshed out excellently.

Like I said towards the beginning of the review, I'm still not sure what to think of Echo Us. I know that I like what I hear, but there are still many things that feel sorely lacking. 'Tomorrow Will Tell The Story' gives the impression that Echo Us had a stirring pot full of great ideas, and when it came to time to write the album, they were largely pulled out at random and arranged blindly. Fortunately, this approach works better than I would have first thought, thanks to the quality and sonic depth of the ideas. This is a bit of an oddball album, and though Echo Us have some serious structural issues with their music, it keeps me engaged, listen after listen.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |

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