Echolust: Veldisa (Cleopatra Records, 2016)
Echolust was formed in 2011 in Long Beach, California. The band is a trio consisting of Philip Obando, Armond Angeles, and Tony Lee Jackson. They are a dark-wave, electronic trio that channels a mixture of bands like Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Joy Division, and early New Order. Besides these influences, there are clear shoegaze elements in their compositions as well. Veldisa is their first album and it contains twelve tracks of nostalgia ridden brilliance. Now, I use the word ‘nostalgia’ here not to diminish their work but, rather, to highlight that they wear their influences on their sleeves and they do all of it well.
“For Least Resistance” begins the album with electronic beats and fuzzed out keys. The dark-wave elements kick off the album from the first note. This is the greatness of 80’s infused electronic music with touches of dark shoegaze textures and tones. “Lotus” has this great gritty tone hanging in the background with a driving beat underneath. The vocals are awash in an electronic tinged reverb while Angeles channels post-punk bass lines over insistent high-hat. The guitars are spacey and are a perfect conversation partner with the synths. “This Blurry Line” highlights an acoustic guitar type ballad with fuzzy electric guitars humming underneath the vocals. If one is a child of the 80’s, this album is a nostalgia trip and I mean that in every good sense. “Veldisa”, the title track, is a slow paced, atmospheric song with floating drones, shoegaze guitars, and a heartbeat like bass. Jackson really displays wonderfully reserved, soaring guitar work. Obando also shines here, with vulnerable and subtle vocals.
“Velvet Holiday” is aggressive and pounding with a rather juxtaposed ghostly vocal. It’s a post-punk tour-de-force with glistening guitars and driving bass. “Cherry Dancer” has larger walls of sound and channels a shoegaze feel. This is definitely my favorite track on the album and it really showcases Obando’s ethereal side with an incredible Hooky style bass line. “1799” is a New Orderesque danceable track with a tinge of darkness. The synths take center stage here with fuzzed out tones and electric drums thumping the snare. “Doublespeak” rings into the speakers with feedback wailing ominously. Echolust plays with lower tones in the percussion work, subduing the more prominent snare and high-hat that is prominent on the album. “Doublespeak” is the longest song on the album but would make a great single despite its length.
“Décor Blonde” slows the pace down, with plodding percussion and walls of sound that come in and out of the mix. Obando is almost talking to the listener with a laidback ease. I could see this track appearing in one of the darker moments of a John Hughes film, and I mean that as a huge compliment. “Electric” evokes a dystopian sci-fi film filled with all the dark corners of electronic malaise. “Electric obsession/red light accumulation/sex filter inside us” sings Obando. “Dark Haired Girl” flips the script and is a lighthearted piece with an upbeat tempo and bright tones and chord choices. “Zombie Birds” ends the album on a melancholier note, reflecting the overall feel of the album. Synths rumble throughout the track in a light, electronic fuzz-tone with guitars and bass playing underneath. “Zombie Birds” is a perfect conclusion to this album, wrapping up the dark-wave journey nicely.
Veldisa introduces the world to Echolust’s sound and vision. It’s a great debut record for this dark-wave trio, rich with heavy influences from early darkwave bands which peak the nostalgia meter. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with next as they progress and solidify their sound.
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