Currently based in Richmond, Virginia, Enzian released its first EP this past March using nothing more than Logic Pro X, a 4-track and an iPhone. And what you’ll hear on their debut Enclosure is some of the most gorgeous, mesmerizing sounds east of the Mississippi. Being influenced by such bands as Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens, Enzian creates harmonious blends of American folk and lo-fi electronica, mixed with echoing vocal harmonies, intricate guitar work, moody synths and a “wheezing accordion.” The band’s lyrics address themes such as depression, isolation and futility but also hope during those dark times when life gets crappy.
The opening “Wellspring-Three Acts” starts off with echoing acoustic guitar and even more echoing vocal, deep and wide. Drums thunderous and tambourine used just enough to move the beat along with the crashing cymbals. And in the background, this wonderful magical sound of the accordion. The feeling from this number envelopes the listener with an earthy feel, other worldly even, as if you’re in a dream you once had as a child that remind you of how wonderful your childhood was. “Skyline” offers more gorgeous, echoing sounds and textures with layering vocals, big and bold drums and ethereal sounding keyboards and/or guitars. In some ways, it reminded me of those more romantic sounding Led Zeppelin songs like “The Rain Song” or something from ‘70s soft rock supergroup Bread.
“Perigee” features a real nice twist, a combination of ambient, Beatle-esque instrumental melodies, a somber dirge on the accordion, and then switches to a faster tempo into this great retro arcade game sound on the keys. Dang – insanely creative! This tune melts right into “Ghost” – another magically wonderful song that sounds like it could have been something Brian Wilson did for Pet Sounds. The extra vocal layering made this one stand out – just couldn’t get enough of it. The next tune is a traditional number, which I think may have been a slave song from 1800s, or some folk song from the past – but just a guess. Anyway, I’ve never heard the original “The Young Man Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn” so in my opinion Enzian owned this one. Although it does sound like the band used traditional instruments, like the banjo, it offers a fresh and modern twist. The last number is “Bypass (Blues)” and features a stripped-down style of just the vocals and acoustic. The guitar sounds like it’s higher strung, almost sounding like a zither and to me, it felt like the band’s saddest song.
If I had to choose, I think Enzian’s Enclosurewould make a perfect soundtrack to warmer, lazier days and nights of summer, when the world shares glimpses of its more magical moments in time. For a band whose writes songs about depression, isolation and futility, I sure didn’t walk away feeling like their music was hopeless. In fact, I felt uplifted and inspired. Maybe it was the way the album was produced and mixed, maybe it was just their beautiful melodies and harmonies. Either way, I hope this Virginia group puts out more soon.
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