November 6, 2014 § 1 Comment
As already shared out on the Echo Us newspage, here are some highlights from the Portland show at Hawthorne Theater Lounge- Sat. Nov. 1st. 2014.
The album has continued to receive amazing reviews around the world- this time in English, and pointing to the fact that there is room for music like Echo Us within academia-
“Echo Us is the brainchild of Ethan Matthews, America’s version of Steven Wilson” “…this album should be required listening for every student entering a music program at college. A Priori Memoriae is worthy of a thesis on several levels: Musical Influences, References, Style, Transitions, Progressions, Time Signatures, Storytelling, Musicianship, Vision, Production, Arrangement, Engineering, Mastering. I could spend an entire semester lecturing on this one album.”
October 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
Upon finishing school in December 2002, I remained in Boston and was still having difficulty coping with everyday existence. I lived with 4 or 5 other Berklee students and grads, and it snowed…and snowed…and snowed. I didn’t have a proper studio set up once moved into this new house, and had limited funds to fix my studio situation or even live on.
I received a call from Brian, Greyhaven’s vocalist in late February, and received an offer to essentially move to Portland, Oregon. It was one of the biggest relief’s of my live, but also very heart-wrenching at the same time. Boston had gone from being a godsend for me in 1998 upon starting school, to being a living hell, frozen over. Very few friends left in the city, and it was time to get out, finally take the time to truly ‘cure’ my problems in a new city, with a new lease on life. I went into it with no reservations. Musically, I hadn’t had a proper album out in some time, and no one was expecting anything from me. Thus, I got to experience life from a totally different perspective for awhile. This also meant no new releases still until early 2005, but that was okay with me. I had a lot of things to do, new things to learn and lots of musical material to play around with.
Echo Us’ debut CD in 2005 came out of a whole lot of pain, and it’s evident all over the album. Many people commented on this as I remember, even though the album sold very poorly. It was also my vocal debut, and after having such a solid release as Greyhaven out there, no matter what the style of the new album, I was on a huge learning curve. I couldn’t afford a vocal coach, so I slogged through it the best I could. What I came out with is still the most twisted and creative album to my ears. Now a days when people mention things sound like this or that, I tell them to listen to that album, because it is so very different.
I hired a photographer for the album’s promo shots, but no one else, and since I was now officially solo I took it upon myself to do everything- for some reason, and not just for control reasons, I had to do everything. I think it was because I had to learn a variety of disciplines, and I always wanted to know how everything worked. The only other musician on the album was Kai Kurasawa- on one track, Who Loves You, which was penned in response to a cover song that I accompanied a girlfriend on some time ago. Some out there might be able to guess it!
Once actually settled in Portland in late July 2003 the creativity started really burgling for me. I quickly finished the debut, warts and all and let it be, planning for it’s later release. Shortly after, in September I received a ‘wave’ of energy, many dreams, and something I never thought would happen- a completely new direction that would start with the composition of The Tide Decides. I received much of the ‘information’ about the album in a very ‘clairvoyant’ fashion- the lyrics for From Snow To Sea came out of nowhere, and the night that happened I knew I’d hit something major. For me, it was almost a new style of music, but it had enough familiarity to it because of it melodies and atmospheres, which were not far removed from what I was doing with Greyhaven before. In fact, this album was first where I believe I topped my former band’s work, or at least equaled it, on my own terms. The mixing was still not perfect, but compositionally I was very much reaching for things that I’d always known existed, but I couldn’t quite put my finger or mind too before. The album has the sound of ‘consonance’ rather than dissonance to it. It’s very open sounding.
I also got to start collaborating with some new Portland-area friends. Much of the album was done simply because I met the right people at the right time that were able and wanting to help. In odd fashion, the drums were recorded last! The album has about 50 percent real drums and 50 percent electronic-based, and oftentimes they are mixed together which was extremely time-consuming to balance and edit correctly. In fact, The Tide Decides was so time consuming as time wore on that I’d never want to make anything like it again- 70 minute albums are very hard to make when you’re dealing with thousands of sounds!
2004 was mostly spent developing the new ideas around that initial wave of energy. I was also still in a new city, slowly meeting new people and reconnecting with people from the distant past as well. This time period I was at an age where I felt I could stretch out, take my time artistically as well as within my personal life. It was a much quieter time, a time of healing.
October 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
Echo Us will be joined at the November 1st CD release show by Christopher Koroshetz, an amazing drummer and percussionist with a deep resume in world music, jazz and, everything! The fall set is all about the ambient and groove-oriented side of Echo Us music, taking from 3 out of the 4 albums, as well as unreleased material-
As opposed to last winter’s set, which featured concert harp, Echo Us this fall will be night and day away from where we were earlier this year. This is a much more ‘fun’ and engaging live version of what started as a completely independent, studio-only project so many years ago now. Rehearsals have been swift and productive, and we are very much looking forward to bringing this music in its actual recorded form, to the stage!
October 4, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s been great hearing from those of you giving your first impressions of the album the past two weeks! USA release is scheduled for this Tuesday- Oct 7th. Many interesting reactions thus far from Europe!
We’ll have Echo Us’ first Portland area autumn show this Nov 1st- this will be the CD release show for the United States, performing alongside Vibrissae at the Hawthorne Theater Lounge.
October 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s always interesting to hear how divisive music can be, but it gets tiring too. I do read publications in a leisurely way sometimes, and reviews like the following always make me want to check something out rather than ignore it.
It’s also interesting that two different people can have such a polar-opposite reaction. I’ll be the first to admit that Echo Us music is both experimental AND conventional at the same time; depending on which elements you are looking at. Some people don’t get that. That’s cool!
In general, I am absolutely sick…extremely sick of what ‘pop’ music has become these days. There is so little new to be done with a 3 note melody over 2 or 3 chords. In fact, the best ‘pop songs’ of the 60s, 70s and 80’s were constructed more like a jazz standard in terms of sophistication than the awful things being produced now. Steely Dan or Lady G? You choose! At some point, musicians AND listeners forgot to keep seeking new things.
As far as Echo Us music, it just “comes to me”, the idea already exists ‘out there’. I never sit down and say “let’s write XXXXX kind of thing, or this or that”. It’s always right off the top of my head and it’s a wave that it comes in, out of no where. So, to suggest that an artist’s music is somehow invalid, when it is in fact a spiritual phenomenon, is to me extremely risky.
September 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
Album Pre-Orders For II:XII, A Priori Memoriae- Street dates: 15 Sep (UK), 19 Sep (Europe), 7 Oct. (USA)
September 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
Online pre-orders for II:XII, A Priori Memoriae are available everywhere- US release is OCT 7th, and orders will be available at http://www.echous.net after that time. For now, the best way is to preorder the album from a jungle river nearest you :0)
For the October issue of Germany’s Eclipsed! Magazine, Echo Us will feature an alternate arrangement of a track from A Priori Memoriae on the compilation CD in the magazine- The cut is also featured within the album’s promo trailer, while not being on the pressed album ( http://youtu.be/9F9SVcwuQQw ). Fans are encouraged to spot the alternate arrangement by Sept 28th, and those who email Echo Us (email@example.com) with the name of the track will receive the two non-album cuts from A Priori Memoriae in the digital format of their choice.
Amazon.co.uk (15 Sep)
Amazon.de (19 Sep)
Amazon.com (7 Oct)
Echo Us’ II:XII, A Priori Memoriae is coming out through Dust On The Tracks and SPV on 15 Sep (UK), 19 Sep (Europe) and 7 Oct (US). The album has been described as pure return to the “concept albums that dominated the progressive rock of the 1970s- The album is one the best progressive rock albums of the century. Such a production made up of wonderful melodies, clever dramaturgy and compelling dynamics, is something that even the top of the class Mike Oldfield was not able to achieve through decades of work, including after his album ‘Ommadawn’.”
August 28, 2014 § Leave a comment
1). It’s the end of the trilogy, but Echo Us has 4 albums.
In 2012-2013 two albums were created as a follow-up to Tomorrow Will Tell The Story, the first was A Priori, and the second is an as-yet future album that combines unreleased material from the sessions that grew Tomorrow Will Tell The Story, as well as new compositions. The first Echo Us album (2005) was not considered as part of the trilogy concept.
2). The only compositional consideration was ‘flow’.
A Priori presented itself as a stream-of-consciousness, and primarily as an instrumental album. The lyrics incorporated into the album were not an afterthought, but were written differently than Tomorrow Will Tell The Story. There is more repetition of lyrical themes as well as focused counterpoint than on previous albums- melodies themselves were re-used and inverted more than ever- appearing across the entire instrumental / orchestral spectrum of all tracks.
3). Its composition was almost aborted after the first 2 minutes of exordium were written, and picked up 3 months later.
At first it seemed like a project conceived of for a later date, and it also begged for resorting to instrumental bravado, which previous albums avoided.
Oboist Christina Fitzgerald, Flautist Chris Smith, and others again joined up for the recording sessions for A Priori. The album was not recorded to a ‘click’ track, and was very much performed ‘live’ in the studio much more than previous albums.
5). It was written on a number of borrowed acoustic instruments – harmonium, acoustic/ele guitar, glockenspiel, fog horn etc.
There were more real acoustic instruments played all over A Priori, as opposed to just the Celtic harp, strings and drums of previous albums. A Priori hardly has anything resembling a drum kit, which was intentional.
6). It was mixed ‘outside the box’ and inside the box at the same time (for gear junkheads).
Various plug-ins, softsynths/samplers were used within Logic Pro, and then outputted to a DA7 (Ramsa) desk for mixing in outboard synthesizers and reverbs, bass guitar compression and more. This approach has defined the sound of Echo Us’ latest releases, going against the trends of software and plug-in heavy synthesizer productions.
‘Nightlight’ modulates in and around 5 different key centers, and was very difficult to compose, as well as perform live because of the harp pedaling required.
8). Upon its completion, its author was kicked out of his studio by decree of the Portland Fire Department.
This is true- All tenants were asked to leave the multi-office space where Ethan had his studio from 2005-2007, as well as 2009-2013. The landlord was asked to renovate to current codes after 15 years of having business space in the building. Since the building was a converted Victorian house on the wrong block, it was ordered by the city to be turned back into solely residential space. Echo Us vacated in July of 2013 and hasn’t had a proper studio space since.
Actually, Tomorrow Will Tell The Story was written partially in response, or at least in sway with the idea in the new-age movement that the year 2012 would bring a change in consciousness around the globe. It’s still hard to say whether anything actually happened, but A Priori lives on with its own intent, and could be interpreted in a multitude of ways.
Many of the synth washes and pads come from two very warm, but digital synthesizers- the Korg Wavestation (ex) and Roland JD990. The amount of acoustic instruments used in the recording probably contribute to its warm character, but more than anything, what gives the album its ‘feel’ is the very free-flowing way it was put together and performed in the studio.
July 29, 2014 § Leave a comment
I wanted to actually speak up about this, and hopefully in as nice a tone as possible, even though the subject frustrates me slightly.
Over the years many journalists, reviewers, even random posters on web boards I’ve been directed to, bloggers, you name it- especially those from outside predominantly English-speaking country’s mistake the name “Echo Us” to be, or mean: “Echo U.S.” – Another common misspelling is “Echos US”. Essentially, this spells out “Echo United States”. bah! (see my further extrapolation about miscommunications below).
I hope I can clear up that “Us” simply means “We” in the case of Echo Us (and without getting into grammar-nazi clarifications here, it’s like saying in a sentence “Arthur will echo us in his findings and research”. Echo Us, in the context of the music created under its banner, refers to a ‘metaphysical circle of consciousness’, and can really become whatever the listener wants it to be, or sees within it.
I came up with the name in 1999. I was not trying to differentiate the name from any other groups calling themselves “Echo” from other countries (of which there are probably many). Echo Us is the only “Echo Us” operating in a musical context. Also, I never meant to call this project ‘Echo’. It is called Echo Us.
This will sound even more ridiculous, but I also don’t want anyone to get the idea that the name has ANY political connotation at all. The language barrier, however presents a situation where this can, and I believe HAS happened on occasion. The last thing I’d ever want is anyone thinking this name is some kind of a political statement by me or anyone associated with the project. Believe me, I won’t burden the blog or anywhere else on the web with my political leanings, but they definitely are not in support of anything my country stands for these days.
Thought this needed to be said after 10+ years- email infoATechous.net if you’ve got further thoughts for me to consider on why this misunderstanding persists- Would love to hear it!