There’s an often repeated opinion that Shoegaze is “the scene that celebrates itself”. That probably was more of a buzz expression used many eons ago than the real soul of the genre. Shoegaze is more about creating layered atmospheres and otherworldly landscapes, not unwarranted self importance.
Echodrone plays a shoegaze that is frothy, but not in soapy suds that garishly appear in lattes. Echodrone is more like a well made cappuccino. You know the ones, where you can still see the layer dividing milk and coffee, with cinnamon lightly sprinkled over the dense froth.
Bon Voyage is a collection of 6 songs from this band that hails from San Francisco, a city that is trippy by itself and which does celebrate too many things about themselves (some justified, though). But, again, Echodrone come with many emotions, but none of them is cocky bravado.
Like a morning bike ride through Lombard Street, ‘Under an impressive sky’ doodles with an arpeggio before exploding in your very ears; auditory canals perceiving every note that is distorted and reverberated. Loud follows quiet/dreamy. The voice of Meredith Gibbons comes across as a distant fog alarm, travelling through the spaces that the instrumentation has torn asunder. There are moments where it becomes too calm and that feeling of dread comes back again, hitting like a surprise wave and pulling you under like a riptide.
‘Hypnogogic’ is a spacier one, where there is some vocal sparring between female and male (Eugene Suh) vocals. It’s a dynamic that is quintessential to shoegaze (possibly as much as the heavy reverb). It’s a gorgeous yarn, the one being spun by Echodrone. ‘Cold Snap’ again uses a double vocal approach and you know this is lift off. This is the sun showered morning drive through the mountains in a cold day. Memories passing through your head, fading away like the images in your rearview mirror. It’s a gorgeous moment how the song becomes droning, like a mantra, with the drumming having a ball here. ‘Pure Nickel’ is sort of the spiritual sister of ‘Cold Snap’, almost a continuation of the ideas, but with the volume turned up quite a lot. Cohesive and lovely.
Now, we get two very strong tracks by the end of this joyride. ‘Infinite arms’ starts acoustically, with Eugene Suh singing forlornly. An explosion of sound will never come like in the other tracks, instead, the layers aren’t neither distorted nor reverberated, but they soar high and mighty, probably because the ebow tone is so beautiful that it becomes as engaging as a chiaroscuro painting. ‘Constant’ starts with some beautiful swells and although the layers seem peaceful like in the previous track, a full pedal stomp eagerly awaits to blow your speakers. You’re now floating in space.
Shoegaze. Proper one. Get it.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López