Echodrone is a shoegaze/dream pop/electronic band based in San Francisco. You may recall that I wrote about them once in July 2012 when they released their sophomore album, and once again in January 2013, when they had just released a “mix tape” of cover songs.
The band got started in 2005 by Eugene Suh and Brandon Dudley, and they’ve shifted other band members in and out over time. Last time I wrote about them, there were two other band members. They’ve been replace by three new ones. The other big news since then is that they joined the Saint Marie Records family. That’s a fantastic label, and if you were scoring along at home, you probably noticed that seven of my 41 favorite albums of 2014 were on Saint Marie. Two of my top ten. I like Echodrone and I like Saint Marie, so I was very excited when I heard the news back in October.
A few days ago, SMR started their promotion of the bands forthcoming album, their third. A couple of songs were shared on Soundcloud, and I really liked what I heard. The next day, I got an advance copy of the forthcoming record, which will be out in February. As I was downloading the files, I saw that the last song on the album is called “Octopussy”. I immediately thought about the song of the same name by The Wedding Present. I do this kind of thing a lot when I see track listings of new albums that I haven’t heard yet. I get excited and giddy in hopes that (song) is a cover of (song by same name) by (one of my favorite bands). Much more often than not, it ends up being a little disappointing to find out that it’s just a song of the same name. This time, I was rewarded with an exceptional cover of that Weddoes song. I ended up having a nice exchange of emails with Suh about our mutual love of The Wedding Present, and specifically the 1991 album Seamonsters. Although the cover is fantastic, it’s not why we’re here today.
The new album is emblematic of the changes that the band has gone through. Not just the lineup changes, but there’s been something of a stylistic change. There’s always been some electronic influence, and there’s a little bit more on this one. While this is the third proper album, it’s the fifth release by the band. With the new members, they’re back to being a five-piece, and each of the members brings influences and input.
“When The Two Ends Meet” is the first single from Five, and it’s quite nice. This is that song.
“When The Two Ends Meet” by Echodrone
Those 28 seconds of atmospheric intro are actually a holdover from the previous song “Interlude Collage”, which is a lovely electronic/atmospheric three-minute bridging of the gap between “Glacial Pace” and this. The entire album clocks in at over an hour, and it flows beautifully. There seems to be a relationship between the songs. They don’t always bleed into or cross-fade into each other, but there are great transitions, and there’s no mistaking that this is an album. The 10 songs weren’t just arbitrarily chucked together in a sonic blender. There’s a good deal of thought and design that went into the track order and the gaps that go between the songs. Clearly, they want us to listen to this as an album. I’ve always been an “album” guy, and I love that this sort of thing is happening with more frequency as opposed to the method of putting a bunch of completely independent songs together with big gaps between them.
On this song, and really on the whole album, there’s that mix of the “live” instruments and the glitchy electronics. I have a fairly low tolerance for electronic music, and I have to admit that I was a little worried when I saw something in the one-sheet about how this new album should appeal to IDM fans. I knew that the DM part stands for “Dance Music”, and I actually had to look it up to find out that the I stands for “Intelligent”. I have zero tolerance for the stuff that they call EDM, and even after reading up a bit about this IDM stuff, I still don’t really understand what it is, except that it’s less annoying that EDM. Sure, I used to listen to stuff like Orbital and µ-ziq, and as far as I know, those are lumped in to the IDM category, but I can’t really listen to that stuff anymore, and it all sounds like bleeps and bloops to me. At any rate, my fears about this being an “IDM” record were assuaged when I got to listen to the whole thing. There’s still plenty of shoegazing, and a perfectly acceptable amount of electronic stuff.
Five is a great record that rewards the listener who gives it a thorough listen. It also rewards the listener who finds that wonderful cover of “Octopussy” as the album closer.
As with most SMR releases, the only formats will be CD and digital. The album comes out on February 24, and you can pre-order your copy via SMR here.