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Electric E is back with new EP & LP November 7, 2020 by Jodi Marxbury
In his latest releases – an album titled Sight Unseen and an EP in Ella – the artist known simply as Electric E is making it clear to anyone listening that he isn’t planning on stepping away from his boundary-breaking experimentations anytime soon – if anything, he’s going after this goals harder than ever here. Combining influences that span the pop spectrum but always bring us back to the soul of vintage electronica, Sight Unseen and Ella present themselves as alternative documents through and through, and if you’re keen on music, I think you’ll find them to be everything they’re marketed as.
The EP is more conventionally composed than the album is, but when your title track is bursting with the kind of pop sensibilities this disc’s is, that should be the case. There’s nothing over the top or especially theatrical about Ella’s high or low points; “Again and Again” and “Got to Have It” both touch on a pop/rock component some might foolishly think would be out of Electric E’s reach, and if you ask me, they’re both two of the more stage-ready compositions he’s ever stamped his name on. For a player with an evolving sound, this record offers us a look at his style that sounds as consistent as anything in the mainstream.
There’s definitely an angular feel to the rhythm of Sight Unseen’s “The Rearrangement (Vocal – Urban Minstrels),” the R&B-flavored “I Don’t Take Any Pleasure (Hatred Was Not a Word),” “Situational Sangria (Vocal – Come Down)” and both versions of “China Doll,” but it never verges on sounding decadently jagged. For the most part, Electric E exhibits the kind of self-control I wish a lot of his Seattle contemporaries could bring into their own music, and provided it stays in his compositional repertoire, I think he’s going to see a lot more exposure in the press with his future work.
You can tell that this artist is coming out of the Pacific Northwest mostly because of his transparent influences – particularly in songs like “World of Mirrors,” “Memory Lane,” “Down By the Sea” and “Timelessness” – though I don’t think he can be accused of recycling any rhythm or rhyming from the storied past his local underground beat has been home to in the past century. Electric E is fairly intense about his original stylization of even the most subtle of details in his material, and were he not, I don’t know if he would have the kind of momentum behind his output that he does this season.
If you’ve yet to sit down with the music of Electric E, I would highly recommend doing so before the month of November has come to an end. Sight Unseen and Ella arguably give listeners the best one-two punch of an introduction to his sound that they could potentially get their hands on before the conclusion of 2020, and although I will say that there are some elements of his artistry that could be exploited better than they have been here, the work this player is producing at the moment is nonetheless critical listening for modern avant-gardists everywhere.
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ELECTRIC E RELEASES NEW MATERIAL
by GARTH THOMAS
Courting our affections with a tempered tonality that will quickly swell into something quite divine and powerful even at moderate volumes, the opening bars of the Ella EP and its English title track immediately tell the audience to buckle-up and brace themselves for sonic magic courtesy of Electric E this fall. In this cut, its Spanish counterpart, the potent club tune “Again and Again” and bludgeoning post-rocker “Got to Have It,” Electric E is cutting away from the crowd with a sonic intensity that stands alone in his Seattle scene this November, and if there was any debate about whether or not he could bring the heat prior to this EP’s arrival, the discussion should be put to an end by the time 2020 meets a conclusion.
Besides Ella, Electric E has also dropped a full-length studio album in Sight Unseen this fall that deserves just as much credit for its originality – if not a touch more. Opening with a ringing phone in “Timelessness,” what we find on the other end of the line isn’t a friendly voice but instead a crisp beat that evolves before our very ears into an elaborate tour de force before we know what to do with ourselves. The passion hasn’t even reached the cathartic fever pitch it ultimately will in “World of Mirrors,” “Down by the Sea” and an alluring “Around the Night’ yet, but already it’s obvious that we’re going to be in for a progressive atmosphere here; in any other scenario, I don’t think the backdrop would be quite as beautifully smothering as it is in this situation.
“Memory Lane” ups the crunch factor just to turn us over to a pair of mixes each for “China Doll,” “Situational Sangria” and “The Rearrangement” that could have made for quite the stimulating EP all on their own, but I don’t find them to be thunder-stealing in the context of this LP at all. There are a lot of ways to go about making the kind of anthology that Electric E did in this album, and although you could say his was absolutely one of the more complicated and self-challenging on the table and be completely right, it doesn’t negate just how much of a charismatic presence each one of its songs has because of this very reason.
With the exotically arranged “Maria” and a new jack swing-styled “I Don’t Take Any Pleasure (Hatred Was Not a Word),” Sight Unseen crosses the finish line and mercifully lays its textural wallop down like a weapon that has been stained red with the blood of a bitter battle, but I would be lying if picking the tracklist right back up again wasn’t tempting for a critic like myself. After spending a lot of time breaking down the in’s and out’s of Sight Unseen and Ella, there’s only one conclusion that can be drawn – Electric E is onto something genuinely special inside of the studio, and if he’s wise, he’ll get back into the grind and continue cultivating it while the creative energy behind these two records is still simmering.
Electric E Releases “Ella” and “Sight Unseen” (INDIESHARK Music Magazine)
November 6, 2020 MUSIC REVIEWS
Multilingual poeticisms. Raging bastions of white noise manipulated into bittersweet melodicism. Harmonies that test the limits of their own construction. A rhythm that doesn’t seem to know where it’s going – or why it’s even chugging forth in the first place.
There are contradictions, conflicts and aesthetical riddles that follow us down every seedy rabbit hole that Ella and Sight Unseen have in store for listeners everywhere this fall season, but as anyone who has heard the music of Electric E beforehand is already more than aware, this is exactly what you should be expecting amidst the dreamy tonal and textural communique this up and coming Seattle player is building his reputation on.
Where so many electronic artists both in and outside of his neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest are rebelling against indulgences that their forerunners would have embraced as essential in crafting avant-garde music, Electric E isn’t afraid to pick up the pieces of past glories (including ones predating his own career) and forge something that a modern audience can grow to celebrate as their own in more ways than one. It all amounts to a pair of must-listen records out this autumn, both of which I recently had the pleasure of taking a peek at for myself.
Everything is larger than life in Sight Unseen; from the synthetic trappings of a glistening “China Doll” to the aching tonal gush of “Situational Sangria,” “Timelessness” or “Down by the Sea,” scarcely is there an instance in which Electric E isn’t going out of his way to abuse the volume knob to the very limits of reason. It’s overwhelming for sure, but if analyzed through the lens of the blushing bass volley in tracks like “Timelessness or “The Rearrangement,” it starts feel as though Sight Unseen is a complete and total commentary on contemporary electronica merely packaged as focused, even pop-oriented material for the creator.
Ella’s tracklist is far more brooding and invites some imposing textures on its own – primarily in its pair of title tracks – and between the two records, I think it’s impossible to walk away from their music without confirming this composer’s adherence to efficient standards. As lush as everything in “World of Mirrors,” “Memory Lane,” “Maria” or “Again and Again” is, there’s no extra fat left untrimmed when everything is said and done here.
In a competitive scene like Seattle’s, it can be difficult getting out from under the fame other players are finding whilst trying to launch a campaign of your own, but for Electric E, it’s going to be difficult staying under the radar with a sound as brash and intuitive as his is at the moment. Sight Unseen and Ella hit us with a collective ninety minutes of pure experimental bliss, and whether you’re the type to normally go for something as outside of the box as this style of play is, I would recommend giving Electric E some of your time this autumn simply to experience melodic brilliance at its most untamed.
Electric E’s “Sight Unseen” LP and “Ella” EP
November 6, 2020 Clay Burton
IMAII - Independent Music and Arts, Inc.
Slinking out of the darkness with a menacing sonic scowl that extends from our speakers and into the air around us effortlessly, there’s no stopping the deluge of tension behind “The Rearrangement” once pressing play on this selection from the tracklist of Electric E’s Sight Unseen. Released this year to a warm reception from critics and fans the same, Sight Unseen toys with classical harmonies (“Situational Sangria,” the industrialized “China Doll (Vocal – Take Me In Your Dreams)”), supersized R&B grooves (“I Don’t Take Any Pleasure (Hated Was Not a Word)”) and even allusions to a noise influence in this artist’s sound somewhat undetectable prior to now (“The Rearrangement (Vocal – Urban Minstrels),” “Memory Lane,” “World of Mirrors”), and regardless of you interest in eclectic music, it’s certain to leave you interested in this player’s sound.
“Down by the Sea” and “Timelessness” are probably the most versatile compositional efforts included in Sight Unseen, but relative to the streamlined “China Doll” and “Maria,” they don’t bite off more than this songwriter can chew within the context of the recording studio. He’s very confident in every movement he gives up here; swagger affects any interpretation of the mood in “Around the Night” much as it does “Situational Sangria (Vocal – Come Down),” and anyone who keeps up with the dispatches of an ever-changing alternative electronica underground will instantly recognize how unique a feature this is to find. The gloom of an ambient surrealism is nowhere to be found – in its place, we find the same cerebral framework with almost none of the pessimistic overtones (sonic and surface-level the same).
In addition to Sight Unseen, Electric E’s new extended play Ella is making a critical ripple effect in and outside of the northwest scene this musician calls home, and even the most cursory of listening sessions spent with its four-song tracklist will make it clear what all of the fuss has been about. In “Again and Again,” we’re getting what feels like a straightforward post-punk performance littered with a noisy, neo-ambient ethereal sound that some might be quick to attribute to a Patton Thomas or Patrick Ballard influence. It’s obvious a great deal of the Seattle underground has had a profound impact on this sound when listening to “Got to Have It” or either version of the title cut, and I don’t think you need to be a professional critic like myself to appreciate this element of the Electric E persona.
2020 has been a good year for experimental enthusiasts, and while I won’t say that either of these records fall in with any specific underground movement at the moment, I do think they stand out in a crowded Seattle indie talent pool just the same. This is an interesting and transitional period for a lot of the country’s most iconic indie circuits, but with artists like Electric E keeping things interesting, I think northwest alternative fans should rest easy knowing the next decade should be as exciting as the last was.
RAZORFISH - Electric E Nov. 6, 2020 by Heather Savage
Though perhaps more understated than that which comprises “The Rearrangement (Vocal - Urban Minstrels)” or “China Doll,” the texture emitted by the instrumental faceting in tracks like “Situational Sangria (Vocal - Come Down),” “World of Mirrors” and “I Don’t Take Any Pleasure (Hatred Was Not a Word)” is inarguably as expressive a component as any other to be found in Electric E’s new album Sight Unseen. Alongside the EP Ella, Sight Unseen presents us with a look at Electric E’s sound that is far less indebted to the cosmetic self-awareness of his Seattle scene than it is the endearing experimental nature of a west coast underground that refuses to die.
There’s so much to this disc and its miniature counterpart that goes well beyond the physicality of the music, and I would point you toward the careful arrangements of “Situational Sangria,” “Memory Lane” and “Timelessness” for evidence supporting as much. Electric E’s meticulousness with regards to the structuring of this material really speaks volumes about just how invested in the substance of his craft. Minute intricacies others would just as soon ignore get a starring role in songs like “Around the Night” and “The Rearrangement,” both of which would make for incredible singles in their own right.
The EP’s title track, which comes in both English and Spanish variations, give us a wonderful juxtaposition of formidable beats and elegant melodies that remind the audience how significant a role duality has to play in the understanding of Electric E’s sound. Believe it or not, his isn’t the most elaborate take on experimental melodicism that I’ve come across in the past year, but rather than trying to stack the deck with a lot of artless fluff in Ella or Sight Unseen, he’s sticking to the foundations of his sound and offering something he knows will work for his core audience.
“Got to Have It,” “Again and Again,” “Down By the Sea” and “China Doll (Vocal - Take Me In Your Dreams” demonstrate that this artist’s last desire is to build his style of play around a heavy pop polish, but they also indicate a clubby sensibility to his work that some might not have picked up on as easily in the other material here. There’s a really raw feel to almost every track in both the LP and the EP, and while some might chock this up to an industrial influence, I myself find it to be too punky for what that labeling represents anymore.
If this is just a preview of what Electric E is going to be recording and producing in the 2020s, I can almost guarantee you that this isn’t going to be the last time you hear about his output via an underground source. This is definitely something that was made with the indie aficionado in mind, but whether you’re a hardcore follower of the left-field electronica beat or simply a casual fan of quality music when you hear it, these two records are absolutely a pair worth giving a listen this season.
Posted 6th November by Heather Savage