Here we are, yet again, with that most interesting of new genres, so-called “Shoegaze” music. Previously in the form of Astral Cloud Ashes, this Shoegaze music is pumped out today by surfer, space-punk-rock band Echo Texture, with their debut album ‘Inter-Sting’. “Echo Texture is that little sliver between amazing and indie,” according to the band themselves (or at least according to their publicist). What one must wonder, before even digging into the music is this: Are they not quite amazing, and also not quite independently produced? Or are they both amazing, and independently produced? I really am curious about this “sliver between”.
This most interesting of spacey punk rock has that element of surfer dude that seems to be due to singer/songwriter Jalal Andre: a native of Brasil, and teen surf-rocker in California. There are certainly elements of punk rock, and had there been more screaming in the album, followed up with overbearingly harmonious choruses, one could say there was a heavy influence from the emo era as well. As it happens though, the harmonies are relatively subdued and sensitive, and the belting of Andre does thankfully not cross over into a horrible scream.
There heart and soul of this album is indeed ever present; the soul clearly from not just the affected albeit untainted vocals (in most cases), but primarily from the inventive, and integral bass lines of one Stuart Taylor. The relatively uncomplicated, yet creative guitar licks by Julian Ledgerwood add just the right nuanced fit for the album.
The most unfortunate aspect of this album, as played a big part in the last ‘Shoegaze’ review I did, is the unfortunate inability to fully understand all of the vocals thanks to a muffled mix that favours distortion, and spacey effects over the true quality of the human voice; the very thing that literally tells the story of any lyric. Starting to wonder if I had developed some sort of hearing problem, I recruited my own producer, engineer, and good friend Dillon Lafrance, who had this to say about the album: “speaking from an audio standpoint I think [the album] would really benefit from a more focused mix on what it wants to sound like. the audio pallet changes lots across all the songs.”
Still wandering just what could be the crux of this most interesting of sounds, I decided to be a proper journalist, and look up this whole ‘shoegaze’ thing. Discovering that it was indeed an alt-rock genre in Britain in the late eighties and early nineties, it seemed to be indicative of the performance style of a band (opting to gaze at their shoes, rather than engage the crowd). Not thinking this could truly be translated to a recorded album, where no visual performance is happening, it seems that the shoegaze movement has taken upon itself to pull away from the engagement of the listener by way of metaphorically gazing at their shoes, refusing to truly give to the audience.
Digging further into Echo Texture’s bio, I came across this very telling line: “…chronicle of a self-doubting generation disaffected by unfeeling technology and political ennui.” Not only does their proposed genre suggest an air of apathy, but their biography sets it all out for the listener to know how little is being shared them.
So, for those of you self-doubting, and disaffected apathetics, do give a listen to the metaphorically shoe-gazing Echo Texture album: Inter-Sting. Not a bad album by any means, but unfortunately full of statements of disengagement from the audience. From the muffled mix, to the self-imposed genre, and ultimate statement of egress, Echo Texture is truly a band of rebellion, purposely pulling away from its listeners; engaging by disengagement.