Music, Print, Reviews December 10, 2014

Album Review: The Echo Chamber Synesthesia

by Jay Wallace

0002455958_10I’m going into The Echo Chamber’s new release, Synesthesia, completely blind. While I have an interest in electronic music, I don’t necessarily listen to a lot of it, and while The Echo Chamber has played here in Greeley, I can’t recall ever attending one of their shows. So I’m largely judging it as if this is the group’s first album, even though this is the Fort Collins-based group’s second release.

Electronic music – particularly albums filled with Instrumentals, like Synesthesia – can sometimes be difficult to judge due to the experimental nature of the genre. What do you compare it to that people are aware of? The Echo Chamber compares themselves to the likes of Radiohead, Battles and Explosions In The Sky, but I’m not thinking of those groups while listening to the album.

“Into The Machine” is reminiscent of Greeley musician Joe Lee Parker’s solo Sound Art performances, a tonally dark electronic piece that’s interlaced with electric and bass guitar as well as drums. It also brings to mind the score from 28 Days Later. The title track, “Amorphous Colors in Dreams” and “Terrorvison” continue this aesthetic. A note on “Terrorvision”, despite its title, it’s much more upbeat in terms of tone and really rocks out towards the end.

“In Battle,” weirdly, reminds me of classic rock from the 70s, mostly due to the guitar playing of Ryan Gaudie, and mixed in with the MIDI work of Chris Thompson, giving this rock track a strangely relaxing mellow vibe.

“Morphine Tiger” is the one track with lyrics, bassist Brian Weikel providing the vocals. Weikel is an excellent singer, even if his voice seems really familiar in a way that’s almost generic, at least until the ending. The ending sort of pumps you up, and the only issue I have is the fact that it gets exciting… and then it stops.

“Strange Giant” recalls the score of Pacific Rim, until the horn section comes up, which really makes this track stand out. I think this is potentially my favorite track on Synesthesia, and it mostly has to do with the inclusion of the horns. Lots of electronic music is Generic Movie Trailer Music, Shitty Club Music or Daft Punk/Glitch Mob knockoffs with not much to really distinguish itself. This is truly a unique-sounding track, and for that I love it.

The album closes out with “Gold Blooded,” a melancholic-turn-choleric-and-back-again piece that tries to be hypnotic and then jerks you back out and cranks up the rock. This is another unique track, and a long one at that so you really come to appreciate it. “Gold Blooded” is a good “summary,” if you will, of what The Echo Chamber is good at, and it has convinced me that if you dig electronic music, you should track down Synesthesia.


Leave a comment