ElephantGrey is the solo project of 20-year-old UK artist, Emanuele Duchi. Born in northern Italy, Duchi started playing guitar at the age of 12. Since then, he’s been playing in several local rock bands, until he moved to London last September to study guitar at BIMM Institute in Fulham. Even though he had a bunch of songs recorded and ready to go, he couldn’t seem to find the right mix of musicians to play the songs live, so Duchi felt it was the right time for him to finally release something that maybe could attract other musicians to play the material live in the future. With programmed drums, recorded bass and guitars, he wrote all the music for his EP debut by the same name, TheElephantGrey. The original project was to release a seven-track EP and once he finished the demos and started recording them, Coronavirus began to spread, and he couldn't take the time in the studio to finish the songs. The result is what you’ll hear with three tracks and also an intro by the same name.
Described as a “modern hard rock” release, Duchi’s main influences are Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Alter Bridge, Tool and Queens of The Stone Age. Being the only musician involved, the process of recording, mixing, etc. was slow, but consistent. He states that even if he had already recorded it, the bass track on “Letter? Answer” is not played by Duchi, but by a really close friend of his in Italy that he was in a band with before the Coronavirus put distance between them. He was also helped by another friend for the EP’s elephant head artwork. As mentioned before, the drums were programmed and all parts were transcribed on Guitar Pro's staff, then exported as midi files and imported into Logic. Duchi exported a separate audio track for each component of the drum kit so he could mix and compress them individually, which if I’m guessing right, gave the artist the ability to make the drums sound the way they did. Between classes at BIMM, he recorded the bass tracks with a bass that he rented at the institute, through my M-TRACK audio interface directly into GarageBand on his MacBook. All the guitars were recorded in Emanuele’s room through a Mooer GE-200, an amp modelling unit, apart from the acoustics, which were made just like the bass. For the vocals, he took advantage of the partnership between BIMM and Pirate Studios and went to one of their rehearsal spaces. Once all the tracks were completed, he sent the work to an audio engineer and they found a way to do the mastering via Zoom.
The opening track is a mere 18 seconds long, as well as the EP’s title track and Duchi’s moniker. The sounds are well, hard to describe, but chillingly distorted. The sounds built up and get louder in such a way, as to sound like a “Matrix” computer taking over the world. You’ll hear a faint “sigh” at the end as well. The next tune “Letter? Answer” nearly ejected me from my seat. Explosive would be one word to describe this intense, fever pitched metal rock song. There are elements of both old and new metal, at least from what I heard, bringing the metal genre (i.e. new metal here, I suppose) to the next level. Lyrically, ElephantGrey sings about writing some sort of letter – a letter of regret, apology, remorse? – I don’t know, but coupled with the music, this tune has a unique fresh tone to it. The first single to be released before the EP is “Ocean of Chains” – a cacophony of layered metal guitars, echoing vocals, and warm, thick bass lines. This one pulls back the harsher metal style just a bit compared to the second track, but certainly not the energy.
Rounding out the EP is “My Dear Lonely Bridge” a much quieter sound starting out that gives the listener a taste of Duchi’s vocal tone. Overall, the singer’s voice is more reserved during most of the song and the lyrics more interpersonal and reflective. The words seem to be about a man facing his fears, laying down his former life at a “lonely bridge.” Oh yeah, and the guitar solo is pretty damn good, too. Sure, the drums were programmed, (but they sound way more convincing and natural compared to back in the early programming days) and The ElephantGrey EP was all executed mostly in a studio and mostly by one guy, but the result is pretty amazing. I hope Duchi can pull together a group of other musicians to play his music live someday and perhaps some time in the future write a full-length album, too.
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