I've never had my preconceptions of a CD quite so joyously blown out of the water as I did when I heard the first few seconds of this EP. Farmiloe opens with fascinatingly reversed accordion (I think?), catchy lyrical riffing, spacious production, and vocals so velvety soft you don't want them to end. I saw India Electric Co. at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2015, and as enjoyable as I found their set it just hadn't prepared me for this release.
EC1M is contemporary, crisp, genre defying, effortlessly relaxed, and quite frankly just bloody fantastic. This release was recorded at the National Trust's Sutton House in Hackney and the iconic Farmiloe building in central London (where apparently Cole Stacey & Joseph O'Keefe were living as Property Guardians in 2016). They've used their time in those properties admirably!
The press release notes that "there is a unique acoustic imprinted on the songs which fuses with the vocals recorded in an empty, half built Devonshire home" and that sums it up perfectly. As fans of the storytelling tradition in folk I have to admit that after several listens this release hasn't really scratched that itch. But sometimes music leads you to a place where you say "I don't really know what they're singing about, but I don't want them to stop". It's a release that creates a soundscape and evokes an urban landscape; this is music that conjures ideas and emotions and concepts rather than spinning a yarn.
The production values on this release are fabulous. Farmiloe itself stands out as the strongest track for me, but Parachutes comes a significantly close second. Either are surely contenders for significant mainstream success.
Perhaps most fascinating though is the format of the release. This is the first of three EPs that India Electric Co. are releasing this year "exploring contrasting themes between the country and the city using traditional instruments in contemporary styles". Innovative musicians releasing innovative music in an innovative format. We'll have more of that please!
They've made the most of the format too, there's an undeniably thematic "sound" that ties together all five tracks on this EP. It's a consistency which probably wouldn't have worked on a full length album, but for this project it's just wonderful.
It will be fascinating to see how much of a contrast the next EP yields. We're both looking forward to it!
Ange Hardy, Rob Swan
|BarlowCree: Broadsword||Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors: Souvenir|
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