Musically blending contemporary techno stylings with 90's minimalism and 80's synth sub-pop, one would think that Where Echoes End would be satisfied that they had created a unique sound. Au contraire. Not afraid to take risks, their vocals run the gamut of pop styles. From sweet lines displaying their vocal talent, to purposefully oversung lines for effect (that must pass from between sneered lips), to psuedo-disco stylings reminiscent of early 80s synth-disco. Where Echoes End picks up where the obscure sensual offerings of bands like The Beloved or Scritti Politti left off in the early 90s.
In many of the offerings on My Sweet Grotesque, Where Echoes End dangerously walks the thin line of creating a sense of subdued attitude through the technique of over-singing. It rarely backfires, and on the whole creates a darkly sensual sound reminiscent of a dangerous cabaret. This offsets music that is often reminiscent of Enigma, for its use of danceable rhythms counter-balancing hypnotic ethereal tones mixed with subtle smatterings of contemporary sampled outtakes for effect.
Where Echoes End is not a concept or art band, but works diligently in crafting their songs around a personal ideology encompassing intellectualism, political satire and hypocrisy, sensuality and hubris. At least as far as I can extrapolate from the Political Ideology section of their website dedicated to My Sweet Grotesque.
As they write:
Our past has begun to evolve as our future solidifies. Each day that passes we take a dozen more steps on the road to being self motivated stagnant people. We strive to alter what has begun to change but the savage winds of political satire morph with distorted grace the terrifying marvelous[sic]. Why do we criticize with the intent to destabilize? The answer lies not with greed and fear but with ego and the realization that feeds the ever growing insatiable appetite of the subliminal self. We see through eyes that have not perceived. We hear with ears that have not heard. From past to present, from present to future we fight for a belief, a conflict ending in self gratification and a glorious victory to the psyche
I am ego, your sweet grotesque.
It's My Advantage shows the band's diversity in sound. Mixing subtle changes in musical intensity, the vocals range from processed rhythmic lines to near-operatic tones. Neither over or under-powers the other, while never descending into being typical. Their strengths are showcased in songs like What's It Coming To. A mellower offering, it mixes a minimalist feel that is surprisingly complex in its arrangement and composition. The vocals aren't forced and adeptly convey the feeling of the song, matching its ebb and flow. My Sanctuary is a nice callout in the compilation. Mixing religious imagery with an early-90's dance rhythm and offset with middle-eastern melody lines.
One Silver Dollar dances close to over-doing it in their attempt to create a sensual sound. Mixing imagery of military, religion, prostitution, violence and sex it feels almost over-reaching. Almost. Where their attempts to create a unique sound mixed with attitude-filled sensuality is evident in songs like rOMANTIC fICTION. It's strong melody and creative confessions of party-girl insincerity descends into predictability and repetitiveness.
Where Echoes End is best when it smolders and not when it burns. An above-average album, My Sweet Grotesque, seems sometimes disjointed as a whole. Its strong production values and craftsmanship notwithstanding. Its mellow songs create great restrained sensuality, but seem in disrupting contrast to its more aggressive and boisterous danceable songs, and vice-versa. For the risks they take in creating a unique sound and in conveying their ideology and perspective this is more than forgivable. Even for as much as their sound is not so unique, it is a fresh and successful; even if sometimes pedestrian; mixing of contemporary electronica and retro new wave stylings.
Post: Where Echoes End: c/o Eddie Katz, 2 Auravale Rd., Menzies Creek, 3159, VIC, Australia