ECHOTEST – From Two Balconies

EchoTest 2017

Romantic resonance and tribal turbulence from a bassist limbo.

ECHOTEST - From Two Balconies

From Two Balconies

Even though Julie Slick is no Shakespearean Juliet and Marco Machera isn’t Mercutio, there’s enough emotional tumult about their collaboration – and enough delicious sugarcoating of it on their band’s third outing. That’s how genuine lyricism is born where technique blitz could have been, to present the pair’s progressive push in a slightly otherworldly light, shining ever brightly in “The Mystical Connected Us” that’s as boldly enigmatic as it is transparent in both semantic and aural terms. Yet this light serves as a beacon for lost souls to fly towards its magnetic, majestic tunes, so the album, sticking to a song as opposed to instrumental assault, and having Derek Riggs’ cover artwork to enhance the record’s inherent drama, has an array of moods on display.

It may feel claustrophobic in “Supercell” whose stereo swirl pulls the listener into a place possessed of cerebral pulse, one you won’t want to escape, especially when two basses reel in a delicate-to-intense rumble, and “Sense Of Urgency” may house a nervous, tribal groove, but for “Beats In The Brain” the ensemble engage Tim Motzer’s crystalline guitar and Slick’s colleague in THE CRIMSON PROJEkcT, Pat Mastelotto’s mighty thump in a call-and-response of a romantic stripe. And while there’s desperation in “Rack+Ruin” with its meandering buzz and unrelenting plea, while the lucid “Pity” is full of piano-propelled hope, while “The Plight” is a spacious, soundscape-baiting harbor for bittersweet hurt, the powerful clang of “Confirmation Bias” is prone to joyous funk which breaks the piece’s deceptive darkness to bits to be picked up by Machera and guest singers’ cosmic vocals.

Once the singing has boiled down to a fierce march and sonic blizzard in “Radio Sayonara” that shreds its content to a spelling of the title, the epic “Reflect/Reflex” gives distinctive voices to two principal instruments as their watercolor conversation is injected with electronic ripple to shiver and shake. Here, the basses mirror each other before diverging for a dance and letting those balconies crumble and fall… Yet rather than a catastrophe, it’s a way for kindred spirits to meet on terra firma and work wonders.


June 13, 2017

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