A cellist, a “synth virtuoso”, and a “beat maestro” walk into a recording studio…*
No, that’s not the beginnings of some music-related joke but the make up of Bristol trio Elder Island and the punchline is a stunning record that melds genres, creates something new, and maybe introduces music fans to their next favorite artist.
But I digress.
It’s rare theses days that an artist as unique as Elder Island comes along but here we are with their stunning sophomore opus focused and fierce thanks, in part, to vocalist/cellist Katy Sargent’s guiding presence behind the mic. Powerful and poignant while tinged with Blues and Soul within a sonic world that’s kinda Electro, kinda Trip-Hop, and dripping with Pop sensibilities, Sargent stands out but with Elder Island it definitely comes down to the sum of all its’ parts. Enter David Havard who provides guitar accompaniment and various synthetic textures and Luke Thornton behind those bodacious beats.
On their latest, Swimming Static, the trio traverse even broader aural landscapes with the result sounding something akin to Duran Duran at their most experimental mixing it up with Metric (Think Medazzaland combined with Synthetica). “Embers” kicks it all off and is delicate to start with Sargent’s cello flourishes easing listeners in to this burgeoning aural odyssey. Next, “Purely Educational” lets the Electro freak flag fly with Thornton and Havard’s technical prowess on full display as Sargent’s soulful croon caresses your eardrums.
“Small Plastic Heart” shimmers while sashaying its’ way across the dance floor and later, “Here I Am” is sort of this stream of consciousness dream state with strings and synthetics drifting in and out of the forefront along with Sargent’s dreamy delivery. A cross between a Native American spirit dance, a Dead Can Dance classic, and a Folk-inspired original from any number a Coen Brothers cinematic period piece, “Queen Of Kings” is a highlight when it comes to Elder Island’s brand of genre-bending before expanding into a beats-heavy thumper that’ll cause uncontrollable head bobbing from listeners with Sargent adopting an almost Annie Lennox-like command toward the end.
“Feral” continues the swirling sounds adopting some worldly feels conjured from Havard and Thornton’s instrumental synchronicity while “Intertwine” is a slow burn that relies on huge grooves. “Cannonball” feeds off those “Intertwine” vibes with a quieter, more mysterious tone that leads into closer “Late At Night” which fittingly sets the scene in your favorite night spot or club as the lights go on and that smoky haze begins to lift signaling that it’s time to call it a night with this Lounge-y, comforting number.
*Per the Elder Island press release for Swimming Static