It is a shame and a missed opportunity that most people seem to focus on the generic face of post-punk - the moody, gloomy gray scale ennui of Joy Division and The Cure. Yes, we all love "angular guitars" and "throbbing basslines" but this reductive view ignores many major, but lesser-known aspects of post-punk, particularly an emphasis on non-Western music, like African rhythms, and dub recording techniques.
Post-punk, at times, was actually like a different strain of psychedelia - still as blacklight friend and dayglo as the '60s acid rock variety, but viewed through a wall of dry ice fog. Leicester, UK's Echolocation is working to rectify this with Softer, a chilly, paranoid post-punk record slathered in psychedelic post-production and ornate arrangements.
Echolocation embellishes the traditional template of jangling guitars and pulsing bass lines with filigree of trumpet, accordion, cello, piano and Peter Ingram's distinctive spoken word style delivery. The vocals have earned Echolocation comparisons to The Fall, not inaccurately, but Ingram seems a bit more positive and constructive than Mark E. Smith's trademarked misanthropy. I would add to this conversation the hardboiled, working class hip-hop of the Sleaford Mods for a more contemporary approach.
Softer fluctuates between ambiance - the theremin-like warble that opens the album opener "Softer" and the squealing feedback of "Drone Day" - to funkier, rockier material like the driving, twanging "Don't Walk On The Grass (Kasabian Are Playing There)." They do both really, really well.
The production is out of this world on Softer, particularly in the thick, luscious bass, which is nicely complemented by a pitchy, trebly drum sound cutting through the mix. The dub skeleton is fleshed out with sci-fi sound FX with guitars spinning and spiraling around your head like enlightening flying saucers. Echolocation recorded the album themselves, at their Haunted Studios in Leicester, on Reaper, a freeware digital recording program. If this band can sound this good with free software, musicians have no excuse for churning out flat, uninteresting sounding recordings.
Great musicianship, great recording and production, fan-fucking-tastic arrangements and interesting ideas makes Softer a grand slam of a psychedelic post-punk record. I'm hooked, and if you have grown weary of stereotypical gray scale British post-punk, you will be too.
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