Euan Ellis - ‘In Motion’ - Album Review

‘In Motion’ is exactly what it says on the metaphorical tin. It is a love letter to those late night road trips that we all have missed lately (those of us following guidelines at least), as well as a modernisation of 80s new wave practices.

The opening of ‘Night Visions’ sets the scene for the album damn near perfectly. This music immediately demands to be blasted on a decent sound system while hurtling (speed limits permitting) down the highway late at night. The full frontal confidence of the rhythm section is a staple in Euan’s composition and allows long melodic phrases to float above uninterrupted. While not musically difficult to listen to - it’s all fairly standard ‘four to the floor’ stuff - the music engages the listener through evolving and shifting textures and a full spectrum of high and low frequencies.

‘D.R.I.V.E’ continues the journey with a steady bass to cut through the thick textures of the other instruments. Personally, I find this track a little too thick with texture in places, but only in brief periods. I must admit however, that I really don’t care because I’m mainly just completely zoned in on the bass.

Arguably the first ‘gentle’ track on the album, ‘The Road Ahead’, in my mind, evokes an image of the passenger falling asleep next to the driver as they carry on into the night. It’s serenity is a welcome change to the fast paced tracks before (and after) and makes me want to commission Euan to make a full length ambient album.

In context, ‘Cruising’ works well but possibly overstays its welcome somewhat. It seems safe in comparison to the other tracks and in my mind didn’t need to be as long as them. My main problem (if you can call a very specific subjective opinion a problem) is the high-hat at 1:10. It just sounds out of place to me and becomes all I could really focus on when listening. The synth tones, as usual, are deliberately crafted and precisely mixed.

My first thoughts when I listened to ‘Soon Be There’ was that it could be the intro to a Frank Ocean track. The nostalgia driven chordal sequence is supported beautifully by one of the sexiest basslines I’ve ever heard; think Tame Impala’s ‘The Slow Rush’ with notably fewer falsetto Australians. If you listen to anything off of this album, listen to this track because it will compel you to check out more of Euan’s work.

‘Formations’ gives me feelings of Japanese Ryukyu music when the flute-like lead comes in. This gives a fresh aesthetic shift to the album, while not completely abandoning the overarching style. Another hallmark of Euan’s composition can be observed here, with a relatively simple lead melody being heavily embellished by dense soundscapes and rhythm sections.

I’d heard ‘Ultrasonic’ pre-release and in the context of the album it slaps even harder. Everything about it works so well, from the tape-style intro filtering to the perfect beat drops. The lazy horn leads and slight rush to the beat help to bring everything together so seamlessly and create a fantastic penultimate track.

‘When the Sun Sleeps’ is exactly what I had imagined the closing track to sound like, full of drifting textures and ambient delay, topped off with a heavy reverb on the snare. It is fitting that the end of the album is like a slow drive - without much flair or dramatism - and journeys off into the night.

-Alfie Illingworth-


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