Release Date: September 18th 2018
Echolalia is the prolific solo project of Adam Flietstra, based in New Port Richey, Florida. After starting the project in early 2018, Flietstra wasted no time in commencing work on a debut album, which he recorded with the aid of various session musicians. The resulting product, ‘Heal Me’ ambitiously showcased a variety of influences from electronica to hard rock. Keen to out-do himself, Flietstra immediately began work on a follow-up, heading straight back into the studio after the release of his debut album. The resulting follow-up, ‘Clouds’, effectively one-ups his debut release and showcases an enormous amount of potential from a talented artist.
Ethereal synth sounds and a laid-back drum groove ambigiously open the album, before easing into the main body of ‘You’re Free’. The vocal work on this track is absolutely phenomenal, making use of plainchant-style stacked harmonies which add a real sense of presence to the material. This shows a fantastic understanding of arranging from Flietstra as well as good attention to detail, whilst also serving as an interesting opening track for the album. ‘The Incredible One’ continues very much in the same vein, incorporating additional influences of jazz and funk. At this point, my attention turns to Flietstra’s vocal delivery, which is overall very effective and well-suited to his genre. He delivers his lyrics in the tenor register, which fits well with the more high register synth lines on many of the tracks. His delivery is also gentle and heartfelt, bringing a real sense of emotion to the music and effectively tying in with the ambient nature of his sound.
‘The Ruins’ is a short interlude track which sees plainchant vocal lines and ambient clean guitar sail atop a virtousic drum solo. The drumming work on this track is excellent, showcasing fantastic technique without getting in the way of the more sparse arrangement. I also felt this track served as an effective transition from the more ethereal two opening tracks to the more grunge influenced ‘Shadows of a Ghost Still Linger’, which sees distortion-drenched guitar chords set against bongo drums. The track then settles into a more hard rock-influenced main groove, drawing strong influence from electronica/rock fusion bands such as Muse. At this point, my focus turns to how the material on this album would best work in a live setting. Whilst the standard lineup of guitar, bass, drums and vocals would certainly be effective, it would be well worth Flietstra giving thought to how he’d like to represent the synth elements of his sound. As many of the synth lines are layered and complex, it may be worth making use of backing tracks to best showcase the synth material in a live setting. Additionally, as many of Flietstra’s vocal tracks are ambient, it may be worth making use of an additional microphone connected to an effects unit to best replicate the plainchant-style lines when performing live.
The title track ‘Clouds’ features some fantastic modal lines in the synth and vocal parts, whilst retaining elements of the more ethereal vibe explored earlier on the album. Once again, the drumming work on this track is absolutely outstanding, making fantastic use of ghost notes and varied hi-hat beats without becoming overbearing. Tom fills are also employed between sections, which serve as an effective pivot to guide the rest of the band from section to section and shows a good sense of musicianship. The track is swiftly followed-up by the hard rock-influenced six minute epic ‘Mantra for the Cretins’. This tracks interestingly sees an appearance of screamed vocals, which I felt was an interesting contrast to many of the other tracks on the album. Additionally, I felt this track strongly resembled many modern day film and video game scores, specifically the work of Hans Zimmer. This shows a broad range of influences from Flietstra and lets us know he isn’t afraid to incorporate new and unusual elements into his sound.
‘Still Night’ is another short interlude track, which effectively transitions back to the more ethereal and laid-back style for the remainder of the album. This leads us straight into ‘Dreams Come True’, which draws strongly on 80’s synth pop influences. At this point, my attention turns to Flietstra’s sonic identity, which is overall well-formed. Whilst he experiments with two primary genres on this track, they are effectively linked by short interlude tracks which provide a real sense of consistency to the album. Additionally, he’s carved out a whole host of signature traits for himself. These include ethereal-sounding synth and vocal lines, complicated drum rhythms and short interlude pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing how Flietstra continues to further-refine his genre and develop his signature traits on future releases to establish a fully-formed sonic identity.
‘Tying up Loose Ends (No Regrets)’ is an acoustic track, which I felt fit well amongst the more dream-influenced tracks on either side of it. There’s also a great use of medieveal-influenced harmony on this track, which I felt fit well with Flietstra’s signature plainchant vocal lines across the project. At this point, my attention turns to the album’s production, which is overall very good. All instruments are well recorded and it’s clear that adequate time has been taken to source appropriate tones and takes at the source, leading to a very accomplished final product. The mixing and mastering work is also very good, with all levels and frequencies being well-balanced and the production having a consistent feel to it from track to track.
The album rounds off with ‘Jacob’s Solo’, which effectively reprises each of Flietstra’s signature traits. These include plainchant influences, modal harmony, busy drum parts and ethereal synth sounds. Overall, this made me interested to hear more from the project and I’m confident Flietstra will continue to make immense progress over the next few releases with Echolalia. Highly recommended for any fans of dream pop, progressive rock or chill-out music.
Echolalia is a real workhorse project, releasing material on a regular basis. What does a typical week look like for Echolalia?