A Lighter Atmosphere
“Post-rock,” “math rock,” “experimental rock.” Regardless of coinage, for nearly 10 years El Ten Eleven has done it with a depth and breadth of beauty and skill not always found phiamong their peers. The kinetic Philip Glass-style arpeggios of the guitars, as they converse with more drawn-out guitar melodies and harmonies, reveal an almost machine-like fretwork that still manages to sound perfectly human. A mix of acoustic and electronic special effects and drums adds a bright color to an already uplifting palette. El Ten Eleven, on the new EP For emily, carry on the duo’s tradition of taking their genre into sunny, atmospheric, and ethereal territory.
It could be that the Los Angeles-based band is just as solar-powered as most groups of any genre out of the state. Regardless of motive, El Ten Eleven takes the listener through a trio of intricate and gorgeous arrangements. Even without vocals, there is a choral elegance here.
The EP kicks off with “Nova Scotia,” an especially beautiful piece filled with guitars that intricately chime over crystalline synthesizer pads and a syncopated rhythm. A memorable interplay of melodies and harmonies flies above all of this, filling the listener with a profound sense of hope. Not only will this be an especially entrancing and uplifting EP, but perhaps life going forward won’t be too bad either.
“Yyes!” comes next. The guitar arpeggios this time are doubled and phased to the extent that they are not merely supporting the infinite drone of the accompanying guitars, but in their jittery glory they ensure that it is not only the drums keeping the engine moving along. The drums are an expert combo of acoustic and electronic, treated and colorful. Closer “Reprise” is the most effects-laden and experimental song of the three, opening with a childlike musicbox sound that carries on throughout the song as the arrangement builds to an unsettling sea of energy. There are interesting interruptions throughout this routine, including final moments supported by a chest-thudding electronic kick drum.
On For emily, band members Kristian Dunn and Tim Fogarty prove that there is better living through musical experimentation. However, it is not a drive toward risks alone that makes this collection a fascinating listen. The sheer talent required to pull off precision of this caliber surely helps, too.