Album review: ‘Atlantic’ by The Echelon Effect

“We leave the south-west coast, into the Atlantic, heading westwards, dreaming of dry land. TO BE CONTINUED…”.   

With these words, we are introduced to ‘Atlantic’ and ‘Pacific’, an ambitious dual album effort from The Echelon Effect, the ambient post-rock project of Londoner David Walters.  ‘Atlantic’ has just been released and ‘Pacific’ will see the light of day some time in 2014.

The approach of splitting the two albums looks to be a smart one, as ‘Atlantic’ is a very complete and balanced full-length effort which stands beautifully on its own, but also builds anticipation for what will follow.

Walters uses both geographical and abstract references to create the sense of the journey.  Seeing Minack, Marazion, and Sennen all referenced in the track list, it is clear that the “south west coast” referred to in the introduction is located in Cornwall, England.  Other tracks suggest the imagery of traversing the sea ( ‘Hidden Rocks’, ‘Masts’, and ‘Guiding In’) whereas others evoke the emotions of the experience (‘Fallen’, ‘Dream of Dry Land’, and ‘Tired Wings’).

Musically, ‘Atlantic’ will feel familiar to fans of Walters’ trademark blend of ambient and post rock aesthetics, but I think  it is fair to say that with this album he has also upped game. He is both navigator and captain throughout the expedition, charting the musical course and setting the tone.  He is also ably assisted by the drum work of Steve Tanton and wonderful guest appearances by Torsten Kinsella of God Is An Astronaut (‘Hidden Rocks’) and Ciaran Morahan of Codes in the Clouds (‘Remember Sennen’).

Like the ocean it is inspired by, ‘Atlantic’ is both vast and intimate.  It has a shimmering beauty as well as a sense of deep, brooding mystery.  Field recordings are used sparingly, but are strategically placed for maximum effect.   From the ominous and hopeful tones juxtaposed in the opening track, through the grim determination and melancholic longing in the middle, to the weary optimism of the final track, the album takes the listener on a complete musical and emotional odyssey.   I will be savoring it with repeated listens until the time comes to embark on the second leg next year.  Well done.

‘Atlantic’ is currently available only in digital format on The Echelon Effect Bandcamp site:

http://theecheloneffect.bandcamp.com/album/atlantic

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