Echo Lake, Young Silence
Contributing to the rich fabric of a constantly-expanding genre
When does a revival become a continuation? I ask this because there have been so many announcements of a "shoegaze revival" now — every time an Ulrich Schnauss or a Big Pink, a School Of Seven Bells or an Asobi Seksu arrive on the scene — that it's beginning to feel more like an ongoing genre than something from the past to be "revived." Sure, all these bands undeniably echo that period of the late '80s and early '90s when the Thames Valley in southern England reverberated with guitar distortion and soft, airborne vocals inspired in turn by The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Cocteau Twins, but the sound is starting to feel perennial too.
Echo Lake's most obvious antecedents from back in the day are Slowdive and Lush, with strong hints too of My Bloody Valentine circa Isn't Anything. Soft female vocals don't take the lead, they hover in the middle ground, woven in and out of the fuzz guitars and keyboard sounds — all adding up to something exactly on the mid-point between recognisable indie songs and complete textural abstraction. One can almost appreciate this music more in the manner of techno tracks, where intensity is achieved by the steady layering and stripping apart of elements rather than through standard song structures. This point is driven home in the opening brace of tunes, "Sunday Evening" and "In Dreams," where a rock-steady Krautrock drum pulse underpins the songs' trance-like qualities.
But no, there is nothing new here — you know exactly the kind of heard-in-a-dream ambience you're going to get simply from the titles of "Everything is Real" and "Memory Lapses," and the Cocteaus/Joy Division hybrid of "Buried at Sea" could have come from any time in the past 25 years. But it's all done so beautifully — seductively and sensuously, even — that like dance tracks, or even like the blues, what matters is not the individual genius and groundbreaking originality of any song, but the fact that it is contributing to the rich fabric of a constantly-expanding genre. And it is.