Echorec featured in Prog magazine 106 (February 2020) in an article titled 16 bands to watch this year, before their debut album The Island had even been released. Currently based in Bath, the trio easily deserve a place in that list because The Island is an incredibly mature offering. They even had the audacity to attempt, and successfully pull off a subtle interpretation of the end section of Pink Floyd’s Echoes during the 17 minute long closing track The Lamb Returns – Pink Floyd, listed as ‘an artist we also like‘, being one of the leading exponents of the Binson Echorec analogue delay effect which provided the young band with their name.
Made up of Julian Kirk (vocals, guitars and keyboards), Brad McGinty (bass, vocals) and Jake Aubrey (drums and percussion), there’s no compromise in the quality or quantity of either lead instrument; Kirk is a genuine multi-instrumentalist who can play stately Gilmour-like guitar but also does an admirable impersonation of Tony Banks playing a fluid ARP solo on The Cinema Show. Despite being momentarily reminded of David Surkamp on Safe at Home (the epigrammatic opener The Water is a piano instrumental) I declined to look for comparisons with Kirk’s vocal style because his voice simply seems to fit well with the music. McGinty and Aubrey are also both very capable musicians, meting out inventive rhythm patterns during staccato riffing or bubbling and bouncing along in the melodic sections - this is the essence of the music, it’s primarily melodic, it’s not derivative, it has plenty of changes and uses a broad palette to produce a nicely-balanced modern prog sound with classic touches.
The Island is a concept album that relates the story of a teenage girl’s journey of self-discovery. Raised on a lighthouse rock by a single mother who is reluctant to grant her any freedom, she flees to the Island in search of her father. The truth is finally revealed in the epic The Lamb Returns, that her nuclear family fell apart following the early death of her older brother. It’s hard to believe that the story isn’t personal – it’s well constructed with suitable imagery of yearning, hope, doubt and resolution – and it’s certainly a bold move on a debut release.
It’s not really a big issue because the entire work is thoroughly commendable, but I don’t think the lyrics, which work fine as part of individual song structures and as an overarching narrative, fully rise to the challenge of telling such difficult themes.
Stuck in the middle of a pandemic, a streaming-only release is not unreasonable, though getting noticed in a vast industry geared towards rewarding established acts and/or instant gratification isn’t going to be easy for a new band with a debut album. In my opinion, the interest generated by exposure through Prog magazine should be maximised by investing in a physical product to be ready for the merchandise stand when gigs resume. I’m pretty sure that Echorec’s music will be greeted favourably by the prog community.
Echorec - The Island
Echorec featured in Prog 106
Album review: Echorec - The Island (2020)