Efflorescent-Echoes Live 22 Blooms.
Efflorescent: Echoes Live 22 with
The Album Leaf, Silencio, Smoke Fairies, Tommy Emmanuel, Jami Sieber, SHEL, Slow Meadow, Loreena McKennitt, Bella Gaia with Kenji Williams & Kristin Hoffmann, The Mynabirds, Ben Neill, Steve Kimock, Great American Canyon Band, Jesse Cook.
Efflorescent: Echoes Live 22 is an audio snapshot of where Echoes lives in 2016. Efflorescent captures the essence of the show from the dream pop to ambient chamber music to singer-songwriters to deep space.
The album opens with a supercharged track from The Album Leaf. They’ve been on previous Echoes recordings and they return here with the dynamic head-snap of a track called “Glimmering Lights.” Their album, Between Waves, was an Echoes CD of the Month in October, a statement album by a band that lead the way for instrumental electronic rock in the 21st century.
One of the delights of the album is Loreena McKennitt’s chamber version of “Dante’s Prayer.” McKennitt is in full voice as she unfolds this song of salvation originally from her album, The Book of Secrets. We’ve done many interviews with Loreena McKennitt, the first in 1992, but this was the first time she’d played live on the show since 1994 when she brought her harp into our basement studio. This time she brought her trio with Brian Hughes on electric guitar and Caroline Lavelle on cello.
Several vocal groups appear on Efflorescent. Smoke Fairies were one of our big finds for 2015 with their alternate take on seasonal music, Wild Winter. You can hear their plaintive harmonies and unforgettable hooks live this year on Echoes’ Sonic Seasonings. “All Up in the Air” is one of the tracks they played and has a hook I couldn’t shake for months. And damn! Here it comes again. The Mynabirds, headed up by singer Laura Burhenn give us their haunting track, “Velveteen” with Burhenn looping her voice into a minimalist backing for her downtempo bluesy love song.
SHEL has been an Echoes favorite since their debut and this band has matured considerably in their already fully formed music. This song was a bonus track from their CD, Just Crazy Enough. It’s a meeting of Johnny Cash gospel and Fleetwood Mac anthemics with Eva Holbrook’s fragile vocal lead. The Great American Canyon Band’s Paul Masson actually grew up as fans of Echoes in Baltimore and you can hear the influence in the searing, atmospheric electric guitar work on their album, Only You Remain. “Come Home” is a beautiful love song with Paul & Krystal Masson’s country-tinged harmonies.
Ambient chamber music comes from Slow Meadow and Jami Sieber. Sieber has been on two previous collections. She was among the first looping cellists and she has a soulful, serene sound that she brings to this live looping track, “River of Rain,” originally on the album Timeless. Matt Kidd of Slow Meadow comes from a similar aesthetic, mixing dark chamber moods with strings and electric keyboards on his track, “Lachrymosia,” a song that emerges like a nostalgic song through a glitch strewn fog. His self titled debut was an Echoes CD of the Month in October, 2015
Two of the leading finger-style guitarists in the world, Tommy Emmanuel and Jesse Cook make return appearances. Emmanuel has been on a previous album and this is Jesse Cook’s third live Echoes appearance. Emmanuel’s performance left us with jaws fully dropped. He makes virtuosity look easy and doesn’t let it get in the way of a beautiful song like “Miyazaki’s Dream”. Jesse Cook brought his full band in to play music from his CD of the Month, One, a gentle tune featuring the Armenian doudouk, one of the most soul-searing sounds on the planet.
We always like unique performances and we got one from Bella Gaia. Creator Kenji Williams came in with a drastically stripped down version of the group, just him on electric violin and Kristian Hoffmann on piano and voice. They played most of the songs to backing tracks, but they turned off the computers for this ethereal duo version of “One World”, originally from the album, Beautiful Earth.
It’s hard to put Ben Neill, making his second appearance, in a category; maybe minimalist-electronic-avant-garde-EDM? He fires up his mutantrumpet in fractured cycles on “The Other Side of Midnight” originally from his album, Horizonal, a bonus CD of the Month.
Indian raga meets psychedelic improvisation with guitarist Steve Kimock. He’s in the Grateful Dead circle of musicians and he creates intricate, structured improvisations. This song is just him and his son John Kimock on percussion and it’s an improvised journey across the desert.
Silencio is another band that’s hard to categorize. Their album, She’s Bad: More Music inspired by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti pretty much sums up their concept. Singer Dessa Poljak plays the femme fatale in this song that could’ve stepped right out of Twin Peaks or Wild at Heart.
Echoes Live 21
Ricochets: Echoes Living Room Concerts Vol. 20
Transmissions: Echoes Living Room Concerts Vol. 19
Tangents: Echoes Living Room Concerts Vol. 18
Echo Location: Echoes Living Room Concerts Vol. 17
Dream Logic: Echoes Living Room Concerts Vol. 16