18 March 2014 (gig)
08 May 2014
There appears to be some kind of Eastern magic blowing in the wind lately, with the infectious rhythms of the Balkans and beyond gathering pace and moving through the maze of London multiculturalism into something resembling a mainstream appreciation.
Tonight’s band, Echo Trails, seem wonderfully spiced up by the collateral effects of this movement. Hailing all the way from distant Cambridgeshire, this colourful quintet play offbeat folk with a taste for the flavours of their roots – they are British, but with Greek and Balkan aromas.
Their opening number, ‘All About the Cloudless Skies’ is also the lead single from their upcoming debut album ‘Ode To The Familiar Strangers’. It’s a wonderfully paced number, full of string flourishes, its percussion a petulant strut. Full of layers and culminating in an almost psychedelic crescendo, it displays the rather wild radiance of their lead singer Dimitra as well as a devil-may-care musical creativity evident in their album.
At times Echo Trails can inspire a lazy comparison to Gogol Bordello, but it feels hugely unsatisfactory to do so – yes, they’re theatrical, yes they sound like they came from an old gypsy caravan… but ET’s meandering spirit flits through such a wide range of moods it’s as difficult to pigeonhole them as it is to predict which direction their fluid, seemingly unstructured songs will take. This disregard for genre confines has also drawn parallels to Katzenjammer, Dresden Dolls and Gabby Young and Other Animals – and still, EchoTrails sound like all and none of them.
Another highlight is ‘Love Me and Leave Me’, a beguiling, seductive track, full of drama and yearning. Dimitra’s lilting vocals call like a siren song over a flare of the viola. Through the layers of mystery there is something comfortingly throwback about it – this is what Dean Martin’s ‘Sway’ might have sounded like if it were conceived by a modern day femme fatale.
Echo Trails have a tendency to go wildly off track on surprisingly vivid detours, yet have the true musician’s knack to make it look like improvisation. Tonight’s performance in fact reveals thoughtfulness and drive behind the dreamlike exterior. Under all the free spiritedness and chaos there is precision and self-control.
A new, as yet unnamed track fills the room with a carnivalesque atmosphere, and brings an end to the proceedings. There is still a slight shyness about how these musicians carry themselves, but they leave an audience entranced nonetheless. Echo Trails are bound to find their deserved self- confidence soon, and that will be a sight to behold.
Lead single ‘All About the Cloudless Skies’ is out May 5th
‘Ode To The Familiar Strangers’ is out on June 2nd
Free download: https://soundcloud.com/echotrails/hazyhorizons