The Echelon Effect (Dave Walters) produces some of the most euphoric post-rock on the planet. After teasing us with a preview single last January and an EP last summer, he’s just released the first album of a two-part project. (Pacific and a physical release will follow later this year.) The origins of the new project can be traced back to 2012’s Field Recordings (which was all about flying) and the travels hinted at on Walter’s recent UA955 single, on which he wrote, “I’ve been flying over the U.K., the Atlantic, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the USA”. A mingled sense of flight and cold works its way through the new recording, which makes it just right for this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere. It might also serve as a fine alternative soundtrack to “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
When it comes to The Echelon Effect, a few things are certain. There will always be glockenspiel. There will always be guitar. The songs will always bloom and burst. The mood will always be uplifting, and the mastering will always be sharp. The importance of a signature sound cannot be overstated. The music of few artists can be so clearly identified; once this occurs, artists reach the tipping point at which the work of other artists is compared to theirs.
On “Minack”, we immediately find ourselves in familiar territory, as the keys and glockenspiel offer twinned notes. The drum pads enter as the ambient washes build. Teletype communications offer a hint of intercontinental communication. The song builds without breaking, as an introduction to what is to come. Two tracks later, the first of many sonic eruptions occurs. “Hidden Rocks” fills the speakers with happy chords, arriving alongside drum bursts and higher octaves. Those who follow The Echelon Effect live for such moments. Once one enjoys a first taste, one begins to anticipate the next. But in so doing, one learns to appreciate the valuable, mood-building moments such as the drum-free, airline-inflected “Fallen”, which seems at first to be setting the stage for a larger track until it becomes a larger track itself, or “Masts”, whose percussion sounds like rain at 33,000 feet. Without such tracks, the high points would blend together; the space allows them to breathe.
It’s not yet clear how Pacific will relate to Atlantic. Will the follow-up concentrate more on flight or landing, more on water or land? Whatever Walters releases, we know we’ll be satisfied; he’s at the top of his game, and we’re enjoying his every release. (Richard Allen)
But wait, there’s more! Breaking News: Random Forest, a side project of The Echelon Effect with Aaron Gilbert, just released its first EP! Those who enjoy David Walters’ solo work will love this new quartet of songs, ranging from the sun-bursting-through-the-clouds synergy of “See the Storm” to the piano-based, measured uplift of “The Best of Us”. Want some glockenspiel? Check “In the Shadows”! Yet another great surprise as we wait for Pacific, the self-titled Random Forest can be previewed below ~ Name Your Price to make the purchase here.