echo and flow - LOUD


LOUD has every potential to live up to its name. The Vancouver duo of Elaine Stef on electric guitar and Eileen Kage on taiko drums and percussion has released the long-awaited follow-up to their CD debut, Taikoelectric. Move over White Stripes and Black Keys; it’s hard to imagine a more lethal sonic assault than the ear-bleeding amplification of a solid body six-string and the bone-rattling concussions of Japan’s monster drums. But, the new disc called ‘echo and flow’ is more about dynamics than pedal to the metal volume. Elaine and Eileen have had much time to play with the nuances of their unique arrangement since forming 1996. What they have seemingly perfected on echo and flow are instrumental compositions rich in propulsive rhythm and flights of astral guitar textures. There’s something very surf and retro in Elaine Stef’s approach to the guitar. Simple effects of reverb and tremolo lift chimey licks that crash and recede like waves. Meanwhile Eileen Kage motivates the tumbling, roiling and flow through the booms, clicks and clatter of her taiko battery. Eloquently, their singular sound has been described as “the soundtrack to the world breathing and the soul stirring.” Duos have the capacity for a sixth sense; here, Elaine and Eileen demonstrate the telepathic ability to anticipate every surge and ebb as one. Vancouver music fans will appreciate ‘echo and flow’ as one of the final few recordings to come out of historic and soon to be closed Mushroom Studios, recorded by renowned knob-twiddler Greg Reely. There’s a surprising amount of diversity between tracks considering the Spartan arrangements. The polyrhythmic ‘ESP’ sets the tone and the synergy between strings and skins. Other personal faves include ‘With Bells On’, the innately groovy ‘Exhale’ and mixed moods of ‘Brenda B.’. In the context of an old tyme record store, it would be hard to find the appropriate bin for ‘echo and flow’, but I guarantee there’s a welcome open spot for LOUD in your personal collection.