E – E – Album review

E

E

DL/CD/LP

Thrill Jockey

Out now

E is the trio of Thalia Zedek (ComeUziLive Skull), Jason Sanford (Neptune), and Gavin McCarthy (Karate) While each member has decades of experience in the alternative scenes of rock music, their collaborative efforts have combined in a work that is both unlike anything that’s come before them, and the result of three veterans working in total harmony. On their self-titled debut album, E have developed a sound that is both mechanically oriented and emotional, a combination they could only describe as “soul music for machines.”

E defies expectations – while having no bassist, the sound is driving and with an emphasis on rhythm. Each member sings on the album, bringing their own lyrics and melodies to the table, and sometimes crossing and interweaving with another’s vocals. Where most bands with more than one singer might gravitate towards harmonies, E instead showcases each player’s voice as an individual.

The name E itself is representative of the band – a trio of lines, each equal in length, each sticking out equally from a base. Because each player is so distinguished and distinct in their playing styles, E is able to exhibit total control over their sound, while still focusing on having the freedom to experiment.

And it’s this experimentation and track records of each of the players that make this LP brilliant right from the start. Opener ‘Great Light’ has a great minimalist riff running between the two guitars. There is lots of noise and some great drumming from McCarthy that carries this belter. It’s mostly instrumental with it’s driving riffs and drumming, but Zedek’s vocals eventually come in over the cacophony. Sandford takes a turn and his deep, bassy vocals bring another level to this track that is both welcome and deeply unsettling. Just great stuff.

Follow up ‘Silo’ has lovely harmonic guitars that lead onto some brutal noise, insistent drumming and Zedek’s pained vocals. It’s noisy, yet very evocative. Next up is ‘Delicate Fingers’ and it starts with a very simple guitar riff and Stanford’s bassy vocals again. The result is almost funky! Nice! Screeching guitar noise punctuates the gentleness while Zedek wails over the stabbing staccato guitar.

As the album progresses you get more bouncing drums, minimalist construction, nice guitar riffs, and Shellac esque metallic guitar stabs and noise. Zedek’s vocals veer between Chrissy Hynde melodies and the all out rock voice we are so used to. The sharing of vocal duties works just beautifully. ‘Candidate’ has him screaming “I could be the president!” over gorgeous layers of noise.

And as the LP comes to an end, there is no filler or LP creep coming in. Right up to the end with ‘Fissure’ you get rhythmic drumming, melodic guitar lines building up and up in ferocity to an intensifying climax.  And closer ‘Water’ is as emotive and emotional as any of the preceding tracks. Stanford’s vocals again create an unsettling atmosphere that is punctuated by stabbing guitars and noise.

As a new project by Thalia Zedek, this record by E is a massive achievement and testament to the power of choosing band mates correctly and giving them roles to suit them. The LP has power, melody, noise, subtlety and idiosyncratic song craft and vocal deliveries that lift this record to another level. For me, one of the standout records of 2016.

E is currently on tour throughout the U.S. and Europe after the album’s release:

 

12. 02. 2016 The CrownBaltimore, MD w/ Dave Heumann Group
12. 03. 2016 Black Cat BackstageWashington, D.C. w/ Time is Fire, Insect Factory
12. 04. 2016 Big Room BarColumbus, OH
12. 05. 2016 Empty BottleChicago, IL w/ Crown Larks
12. 06. 2016 Grog ShopCleveland, OH w/ Blaka Watra
12. 07. 2016 Invocation Presents @ Array SpaceToronto, ON
12. 08. 2016 Casa del PopoloMontreal, QC
12. 09. 2016 BSP KingstonKingston, NY w/ Peter Aaron/Brian Chase Duo, Aircraft
12. 10. 2016 Midway CafeBoston, MA w/ Medical Maps, Lotus Ignite, Articles of Audio
01. 13. 2017 4ADDiksmuide
01. 14. 2017 Den HemelZICHEM, B
01. 17. 2017 FeierwerkMunich, Germany
01. 18. 2017 JubezKarlsruhe, Germany
01. 19. 2017 Ziegel Oh LacZürich, CH w/ Chrome
01. 20. 2017 Slow ClubFreiburg
01. 21. 2017 KinoEbensee
01. 23. 2017 OCCIIAmsterdam, NL
01. 24. 2017 KunstHamburg, Germany
01. 25. 2017 KuzePostdam, Germany
01. 26. 2017 SchokoladenBerlin, Germany
01. 28. 2017 ScheuneDresden, Germany
01. 29. 2017 Club 007Prague, CZ
01. 30. 2017 T-KlubRoznov Pod Radhostem, CZ
01. 31. 2017 Forum for Architecture/MediaBrno, CZ
02. 01. 2017 GolyaBudapest, HU
02. 02. 2017 FlucVienna, Aus
02. 03. 2017 MochvaraZagreb, HR
02. 04. 2017 MIKKMurska Sobota, Slo
02. 05. 2017 Ai BilardiVenice, Italy
02. 06. 2017 Sala EstenseFerrara, Italy
02. 07. 2017 TBDCaserta, Italy
02. 08. 2017 LoopAncona, Italy
02. 10. 2017 Le SonicLyon, FR
02. 11. 2017 La FerronneriePau, FR
02. 12. 2017 DabadabaSan Sebastian, Spain
02. 13. 2017 TBCMadrid, Spain
02. 14. 2017 Teatro ArnichesAlicante, Spain
02. 15. 2017 La RambletaValencia, Spain
02. 16. 2017 Be GoodBarcelona, Spain
02. 17. 2017 Le MagnetoBayonne, FR
02. 18. 2017 Le Bar’HicRennes,Fr
02. 19. 2017 L’espace BParis, FR w/ OVO

E can be found on Facebook.

All words by Ioan Humphreys. More writing by Ioan can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find him on Twitter at @ioan_humphreys.

 

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