Echo Us – XII:XII, A Priori Memoriae
XII:XII, A Priori Memoriaé
Released: 15th September (The UK), 19th September (Europe), 7th October 2014 (USA)
Released via Dust on The Tracks Records
‘XII:XII, A Priori Memoriaé’ is the 4th album from the Portland-based, American progressive rock band Echo Us. The band was formed back in 2000 as a solo project of Ethan Matthews (also in Greyhaven) and the original sound was more electronica than rock. This album is heavily influenced by 1970s progressive rock and artists such as Mike Oldfield.
The tranquil, acoustic guitar driven opening track ‘Vestige‘ features an interesting mix of what sounds like a church choir, random vocal samples with some clean, melodic vocals towards the end of the song. One thing that puzzled me; the same thing which always puzzles me when it comes to progressive music, is that I didn’t even notice when the song changed. Exordium (Apologue) sounds like a continuation of its predecessor with only a handful of differences. For starters, this track has more keyboard elements and the main vocal style is soft and clean – very much akin to that of most progressive rock bands. The guitar structures are complex but melodic and pleasant to listen if you’re patient enough to tune in for the whole eleven minutes.
This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album. As is often the case with progressive rock, the songs on here are complex in structure and there is a definite classical influence as well as an experimental flare evident in music. Some tracks such as Solum Vobis (Only You) have that stereotypical progressive rock feel to them due to the predominance of the guitars, whereas others such as the instrumental Memento lean more towards the classical music direction with the choir in the background. Then there are the tracks which combine these two distinctive styles such as Codicillus (From Far Away) which happily mixes electric guitars, keyboards and prog-rock vocals with a choir, harps and flutes. The aforementioned song also features some experimentation with the guitar which sounds a little odd and out of place at times. Then again apparently that’s not unusual when it comes to progressive rock.
While progressive rock has never really been my kind of music, I can definitely appreciate the effort that went into making this album. Ethan Matthews is clearly a very talented composer and a gifted guitar player. ‘XII:XII, A Priori Memoriaé’ is a complex and extremely well crafted piece of music that will undoubtedly be a great addition to any progressive rock fan’s collection. Personally though I’m just not a fan of this style.