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Echtra: Paragate

Hailing from Oregon in the US yet intriguingly releasing this third album on a Chinese label, Echtra are described in their promo material as playing 'atmospheric blackened drone', whilst this album (essentially one piece, split in to two 23 minute sections) apparently represents a 'psycho-physiological journey into the Otherworld'.

Echtra are certainly dab hands at creating some dark, foreboding atmospherics with a hypnotic, ethereal feel. They are adept at gradually building the intensity through layers of sound, and stripping back when the need for a change of mood is apparent. The 'secret weapon' here is the superb use of acoustic guitar; produced cleanly and apart from the background atmospherics, the simple but effective melodies, often repeated for lengthy periods of time, are very effective in giving the material an extra layer of transcendental beauty. Elsewhere, Gregorian chanting and layered heavy guitars are used effectively in the background, although I felt that the more overt black metal sections, with fairly average BM vocals and tempos, didn't work as well in this context.

Overall, this is a hypnotic piece of music, recommended not just to drone fans but all those who enjoy immersing themselves in atmospheric soundscapes.

Track Listing
1. Paragate I
2. Paragate II

Added: June 1st 2011
Reviewer: Tom De Val
Related Link: Band Myspace page
Hits: 1684
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Echtra: Paragate
Posted by Jason Guest, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-06-01 06:48:10
My Score:

Part of what has come to be called the Cascadian black metal scene (meaning artists from the Pacific Northwest region of North America, aka the Cascade Range), Echtra is a one-man project from Washington that juxtaposes, explores, and merges seemingly disparate genres in deceptively simple yet elaborate structures. Paragate is one 46 minute track divided in two (for vinyl releases, perhaps) that evolve through slow and deliberate chameleonic textures. The instrumentation is minimalist and balanced well, purposely downplaying technique in favour of the ghostly haunting and melancholic ambience. The long, winding melodies unfold from mournful and ghostly sections into heavier, doomy parts, all of which are a natural development of the piece and so augment the listening experience, subtly contrasting black metal with acoustic motifs. Combining the avant-garde with ambient and drone, the disquiet of black metal, and meditative contemplation, Echtra's shadowy essay of origins is an all-consuming experience. Evoking shards of light escaping from the confinement of divinity, fans of Sunn O))), Earth, Lustmord and Fantomas's Delirium Cordia will find this compelling, and if you've not explored this genre yet, this is a fantastic introduction. Greater than the sum of its parts, Paragate is imbued with a wealth of satisfaction.

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