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Elika - Always the Light

  by Andy Cassidy

published: 26 / 6 / 2012

Elika - Always the Light
Label: Saint Marie Records
Format: CD


Superb combination of shoegaze and electronica on fourth album from Brooklyn-based two-piece, Elika

'Always the Light' is the latest release from Brooklyn-based multimedia artists Evagelia Maravelias and Brian Wenckebach. Since their eponymous 2006 debut, the pair have garnered critical acclaim for their own distinct fusion of shoegaze and electronica. There is a very clear, consistent vision evident throughout the album, and this is reinforced when one looks at the credits – other than bass, the pair share all of the instrumental duties with Wenckebach producing the album and Maravelias creating the charming, Saint-Exupéry-style cover art. The album opens with 'Stay Beside Me', a musically upbeat yet strangely melancholic affair which made me think of a mix of Patti Smith, Hot Chip and Everything But The Girl. While the track retains shoegaze sensibilities in terms of its lo-fi production, lyrical themes and general musical structure, it eschews the genre’s traditional guitar in favour of keyboards and programmed beats. Built around an eccentric percussion loop, 'We Had it All' is an engaging track featuring a sparsely produced verse complemented by a pumping synth chorus reminiscent of MGMT. The juxtaposition of the basic verse and (more) complex chorus is particularly effective and the two segments provide a perfect counterpoint, each balancing the other superbly. 'Count Your Steps' is one of the more challenging and rewarding tracks on the album. The song is split between a relatively straightforward vocal section and periods of sampled sounds. This is the very essence of a modular song, contemporary, daring and inventive. Throughout the album, and on 'Count Your Steps' in particular, I was struck by the similarity between Evagelia Maravelias’ vocals and 'Ray of Light' era Madonna and this is reinforced by Wenckebach‘s production, which has a slight William Orbit feel to it. For me, tracks six and seven, 'Never Touch the Sky' and 'No One Gets Lost' are, when taken together, the highlight of the album. 'Never Touch the Sky' begins with a dreamy synth texture which fades before leading into the throbbing pulse of 'No One Gets Lost'. 'Never Touch the Sky' sounds like a Pink Floyd intro, while 'No One Gets Lost' reminded me musically of Gary Numan. The album closes with 'A Year Alone', two minutes of blissed out chillwave. It’s the perfect way to finish the album as it provides a sense of peace being restored after the emotional upheaval of the preceding nine tracks. 'Always the Light' is well-constructed and coherent album which benefits from its limited personnel. There is an intimacy to the album which is often lacking when one listens to a larger group. I love the fact that Wenckebach and Maravelias did practically everything on the album, thereby giving a clear picture of themselves and the emotional turmoil which is so well expressed throughout the album’s ten tracks. Rather than merely a collection of songs, 'Always the Light' is an experience – every step of one’s journey through the album, from cover art to musicianship, is planned and executed by Maravelias and Wenckebach and will leave the listener yearning for more.

Track Listing:-
1 Stay Beside Me
2 We Had It All
3 Waiting Room
4 Count Your Steps
5 All My Wishes
6 Never Touch The Sky
7 No One Gets Lost
8 You & Me
9 Trials
10 A Year Alone

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