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Echotest: From Two Balconies

'Modern prog rock with a classic vibe, two bassists playing more than four strings'. Short and sweet, that's how Echotest describe themselves on their facebook page, bassists Julie Slick and Marco Machera joining together earlier this decade and bringing drummer Alessandro Inolti onboard to complete the core trio. Since 2011 this band have evolved, their bass heavy sound pulling in various strands from across the spectrum of jazz, prog, pop and beyond. From Two Balconies sees the threesome bringing in an ever widening cast of guests and therefore broadening their sound further, guitarists Tim Motzer, Zach Lopestri and Mike Visser sprinkling a little more top end onto half of the five tracks on this album. Vocals too take more prominence, Machera stepping forward on occasion, but also happy to stand aside and allow Visser, Ali Wadsworth and Gary Slick to add varying and captivating voices to the mix. With the likes of Pat Mastelotto adding drums to one track and a collection of talented trombonists, trumpeters, violinists and pianists, Echotest continue to stretch themselves at every turn.

Conversely, as the sound palette continues to grow and evolve, so Echotest serve up a more focused and possibly less full on collection. This is still a band pushing boundaries and willing to challenge themselves, yet in places From Two Balconies is much more accessible than might have been expected. Some of the vocals early on in the likes of "Rack + Ruin" leave an almost indie-prog rock taste, as though the Manic Street Preachers discovered their inner progness. It's an interesting juxtaposition and one explored further on "The Plight", although swooping soundscapes are also on the menu here.

"Confirmation Bias" heads deeper into the bottom end Echotest have become known for, the thrum and hum underpinning everything else in evidence and doing so with real authority. It's one of the album's instrumental moments, and excellent though all the vocals are, one of the hardest hitting. The feel that the trio operating without guests on this track have a gleaming glint in their eyes as they really stretch out. The real beauty here though is that this album allows that rumble and thunder to be followed by the light and playful "Beats In The Brain" where Mastelotto provides a percussive masterclass. With "Pity" a stark, shimmering fragile beauty, "Radio Sayonara" a 60s inspired rush of hard rocking psychedelic and "Reflect/Reflex" an ever building example of how to mangle traditional prog values into a hard hitting electronic beast, knowing where this album will turn next is reassuringly difficult.

There may be a more accessible side to From Two Balconies and the overall sound might be just a little less idiosyncratic. However if you're looking for music that's never straight forward but that is still, in places, hummable and ready for an occasional hook laden punch, you'd do well to take the latest Echotest.

Track Listing
1. Supercell
2. Rack + Ruin
3. The Mystical Connected Us
4. Confirmation Bias
5. Beats in the Brain
6. The Plight
7. Sense of Urgency
8. Pity
9. Radio Sayonara
10. Reflect / Reflex

Added: June 17th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: From Two Balconies on CD Baby
Hits: 2053
Language: english

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