Reviews

Echolalia – Clouds

Release Date: September 18th 2018
Rating: 7.5/10

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.

 

INTERVIEW

Echolalia is a real workhorse project, releasing material on a regular basis. What does a typical week look like for Echolalia?

Well, this project started between Andrey Prodan and I. He’s an online friend from Ukraine. He had a bunch of electronic instrumentals he wrote lying around that I really enjoyed. I asked him if we could start a band and if I could put my vocals on these tracks, he said yes, and that’s what happened. I enlisted my close friend, Brandon Chauncey from down the street to help mix, produce, and add some instrumentation on a few tracks. It was all done in a matter of weeks. It was an interesting mix of songs but it was rushed and I wasn’t entirely happy with it. Andrey became harder to reach and I wanted to immediately make another album. One that I was really proud of. At that point I decided I wanted Echolalia to become a solo project but it ultimately became a collaborative affair which has been a huge benefit. It was time for clouds. I wanted to get even more vulnerable, honest and introspective lyrically and musically on this one. It started when I wrote a song by myself electronically that just needed some polishing. I decided I really wanted to utilize the talent of Brandon and have him recreate the track. That track is “you’re free”. I also realized at that point that Brandon and I’s musical chemistry were unmatched. So I asked Brandon to get involved more and that’s when the magic really happened. What happened over the next few months was him and I getting together over the weekends and pulling all nighter’s writing music.  However, I still work with Andrey if he happens to send me stuff. He has written some good stuff for this album as well. So, to answer the question. Long hours over the weekend. Long long hours. No sleep and me dragging my butt to my desk job during the week at 6 in the morning. A typical week is me working my desk job and then working long hours during the weekend on this project with Brandon is his studio.
Your use of harmony as well as your arranging skills are excellent. Tell us a little bit about your musical education and how you starting writing your own music
I’ve been singing since elementary school. I was in chorus for a year but I am pretty much self trained. When it comes to the arrangements, Brandon is the secret weapon in all this. Echolalia is my project but Brandon is the one that works hours on end while I’m passed out in the studio and he’s noticing if something is 1/100th off time. That dude notices things the highest paid producers in the world don’t notice. He plays multiple instruments as well. He plays all the instruments on a good amount of tracks actually. We’re both very smart about what we want musically and work together very well even when were irritated at eachother and tired as hell. He was also a big help with the melodies as well. I sing everything on this album but his wisdom was very important in putting that aspect together. Neither of us are formally trained or can read music but we’ve been around it for so long, we educated ourselves.
‘Clouds’ features a wonderful mix of influences, from dream pop to medieval music. Who are you primarily influenced by?
That’s such a hard question so I’ll keep it short. I love all kinds of music as you can tell by the eclectic mix. If I were to list off influences I’d have to say Tool, Radiohead, Portishead, Bjork and even the Beach Boys. I can’t answer for them but Brandon has more of metal background, while Andrey has more of a hip hop/trip hop background.
Tell us a little bit about the music scene in New Port Richey. Is there a dominant genre? Are there any good bands or artists you’d recommend we look out for?
I would say metal and hip hop are pretty big in New Port Richey. And hell yeah, I can recommend a band. Brandon is a full time drummer for a really incredible musical project called The Time Framed. They’re currently on an extensive tour right now. Check them out!
What’s next for Echolalia?
I’m back with my dear friend, Brandon and we have begun work on the next album. I dont want to reveal too much about this new album so I wont reveal anything. Anyway, the future looks promising but I guess we’ll see if I or we can keep up this momentum. I do have plans to work with Andrew Polo more who had a big part in the last song on the album about my brother, “Jacob’s Solo”. And I just realized his name rhymes with the title. Anyway, his violin playing is amazing. So that might be nice. I just want to create music until I die. But I rarely set deadlines. If I become the most prolific artist in the world, it’s definitely not intentional because I just go with the flow.

https://echolalia3.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/Echolalia.1

 

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