Phantomime

by Double Echo

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about

*SOUND ADVICE*
When you dream that you’ve “dreamed this before”. The feeling of déjà vu that is summoned when the obscure and the obsolete stumble into the realm of the oneiric. On ‘Phantomime’, Double Echo attempt to synthesize this feeling from out of half-forgotten, half imagined musical conventions we left to rot in the last century: post-punk’s insistent pulse; the processed instrumental fog of the shoegazers; a new romantic’s sense of drama and fantasy. A dusty VHS copy of Blade Runner slumbers in your attic, dreaming of electric sheep, while the world outside resembles more and more the nightmare that decays there upon the black surface of its magnetised ribbon. But this new world is too sharp, too bright… It’s time to dream of another. Solid, liquid and gas. Music to be buried in, without ceremony.

Those are the words from the press release that accompanies ‘Phantomine’, the debut album from Liverpool based “goth” duo, Double Echo, set for release next week. The words couldn’t be more true.

‘Phantomime’ follows the duo’s ‘Black Morning’ EP from September 2012 and the ‘Darkroom‘ single released a month later. Right from the get go it’s utterly mind-blowing to hear just how accurately Double Echo have replicated the sound of The Cure circa Pornography. While they may not get any points for originality, ‘Phantomine’ is a trip to listen to.

As you might just expect, ‘Phantomime’ is a dark but also dreamy record. Though epic in sound and duration (only one song is under 4 minutes…), the tempo of the tracks themselves are quick giving the songs a post-punk like urgency, ushering the listener into a swaying or foot-tapping frenzy.

As with much of The Cure’s work, each of the 10 songs on the album are driven by bass guitar. Double Echo have even gone so far as to saturate the bass with flanger – a characteristic that defined Simon Gallup’s sound of that era. Vocally however they are a world away from the distinctive qualities of Robert Smith. Instead Double Echo’s vocals range from obscured and monotone to the more new-wave crooning.

The opening title track is an absolute gem and one of the more immediate and “pop” songs on the record. “A Shadow” more accurately captures the sound of The Cure circa Disintegration with its epic qualities including the chorus-driven, hypnotic guitar melodies set against the jangly, distorted chords, bolstered together by a steady bass line and repetitive tom rhythm.

“Remains” has echoes of David Bowie set to the soundtrack of The Cure’s ‘Pornography’ while “The Wake” is dreamy mid-paced number, which lures the listener into its thick ghostly-fog. “Metropolis” is a five and half minute instrumental track that showcases similar fantastical elements to The Cure’s “Plainsong“.

On “Silent Order”, Double Echo invoke Bauhaus while “Scorched Flats” and “Hours” are two of the catchier tracks and both highlights featuring much-welcomed hooky vocal melodies.

The songwriting is well crafted and journeying, avoiding predictability. The mood is consistent, the guitar and synth work ooze melody and nostalgia. However for all of its impressive production work and attention to detail, comparatively speaking, ‘Phantomine’ falls shy without “One Hundred Years“, A Strange Day” or something of that ilk to take it to the next level. That being said, ‘Phantomine is a dark delight and an impressive, solid body of work.

This another very remarkable new release, and I’m very glad of listening a band such that good. Double Echo is a fascinating back-to the basics, back to the roots of Dark Music; and this is such a really refined record. They have a great heritage from awesome talented bands such as: Clan Of Xymox from “Medusa”, Handfull Of Snowdrops in “Land Of The Damned”, or The Danse Society from “Heaven is waiting”, and of course; The Cure, Joy Division and the classic sound of 4 AD, etc., etc. All of these big band names, and records came to my mind when listening to this fascinating debut album of this duo. And this is such a very positive thing about this “Phantomime”. They are Chris Luna and Ash Lerczackand they are in charge of all the guitars, bass, shynts, programming and voice. Very talented and inspired musicians indeed; and their sound is really classy. This is another great surprise in the underground scene of The New Millennium.

*THIS IS GOTHIC ROCK*
“Phantomime” is the opener, and we get straight to the point with this one: Dark Post Punk of excellence executed with majesty, this will make you move; and it has great rhythm and is such a great start for this album.”A shadow” has some Gothic Rock rhythm and guitar work, combined with subtle voices which are more like a whisper. We have here some very detailed song writing, and the execution is remarkable.”Remains” takes to the darkest early 80’s with dominating bass lines, ambient synths, and some very traditional Post Punk guitar work .This one will be a delight for Cold Wave lovers.”Play house” has a faster rhythm, and is more energetic without losing any bit of its wonderful dark sound. The rhythm and the melody will make you move.”The wake” has this cold drum machine rhythm, and when this is combined with some very deep and dark bass lines, and the fine guitars; I thought in Cocteau Twins from the “Garlands” album, but with deep male voice instead of the siren-like voice from Liz Fraser. The result is awesome.”Metropolis” has this minimalistic rhythm, which is accompanied by synths at the beginning; and they take us to a enchanting Dark landscape. This is a wonderful instrumental and atmospheric track.”Scorched flats” is fascinating dark elegance all in all, is one of their finest tracks.”Hours” has some ghostly synth chords during its initial seconds, and is preceding to some display of Dark music with great rhythm. This one has very catchy bass lines.”Silent Order” is a pretty well assembled mid-tempo song, more 80’s darkness here.”Permanent haze” accelerates the rhythm and it’s a vibrant closing track for this record. If you love or like the sound of the darkest 80’s, and the music of the bands that I have mentioned before; you will love this record for sure, and it will give you some amazing music and evocative moments. I’m really impressed with this release. It is available on CD and Tape. Don’t miss it.

*AUDIO APOCALYPSE*
Double Echo, by their own admission, rifle freely through time’s rolodex; alighting upon the dry ice visions of 80s goth rock/pop. Via their press release, Double Echo (helmed exclusively by two members of El Toro) deem their music as a sense of déjà-vu; the feeling “summoned when the obscure and the obsolete stumble into the realm of the oneiric.” Tough talking and straight out of the Shelley playbook.

Phantomime evidently harks back to another decade, certainly, but don’t allow that to act as a detriment. All of the easy comparisons are there and staring you in the face. Phantomime comes replete with markers and signifiers of groups like The Cure, Joy Division, Bahaus and a dash of Bowie for good measure.

Veering from the album’s speedy eponymous track, swelling into shadowy bombast with ‘A Shadow’, the thudding rhythm section that carries ‘The Wake’ and the eerie malevolence that permeates ‘Hours’, Double Echo have provided the perfect soundtrack to any number of situations; the slow walk home in the dark, the end of an inevitably doomed romance or the sense of grim determination that a lot of us are imbued with.

Significantly bass-led, the record is, as they as say, a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Chris Luna’s vocals duck and weave around the music, giving it that air of (very) early Michael Stipe and his barely legible voice patterns. Both Luna and bandmate Ash Lerczack, supplying all instrumentation themselves, have strived to create one of the more unique records Liverpool has fostered in the past few years

*IMPROPAGANDA*
Liverpool based label, Edils Recordings have released Phantomime a superb album from duo, Double Echo. The whole record is an unashamed nod to the eighties and is full of superb, dark synth pop. The album kicks off with the unrelenting title track which sets the tone for what’s to come and is accompanied by some highly impressive vocals. Remains has a more melodic tone to it before building up into something really good, while Playhouse is a track that particularly stands out. Although Double Echo have clearly taken a huge influence from a plethora of eighties music they still have enough of their own sound to make this an interesting record as can be heard on tracks like Metropolis and Hours. Phantomime really is a fantastic album that offers up something a little different and in Permanent Haze Double Echo have found a superb way to bring things to an end.

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released June 1, 2013

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