Sometimes music is difficult to review because you have heard it all before and find it hard to add anything new and constructive to that conversation. What is there to say about a band still trying to squeeze any remaining creative juice out of a template set down by Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines or Oasis? Then bands like Echo Park Orchestra come along and they present a different problem, they offer a musical embarrassment of riches and the problem isn’t so much in finding something interesting to say but knowing where to start.
In The Sylvan Glades is a wonderful mass of musical conflict and contradiction and meanders down similar progressive pathways as The Moody Blues did when they stopped aiming for the chart recognition and melded baroque pop with some wonderful ambient soundscaping. Intelligent lyricism and dark metaphor are balanced by pop aware melody; long, smooth and lilting grooves are underpinned by brass structures, floating flutes and a violin which tugs at some wonderfully arabesque, oriental and exotic musical threads.
The title track is a great summation of the forces at work here, as a primal narrative of ancient imagery and biblical references are delivered via 60’s inspired lounge chanson. And from that central piece ideas and musical themes spread out in all directions through the music; chilled, progressive musical templates are layered with dark gypsy jazz noodling, psyched-out pop themes taken to extreme lengths…not least in duration, summer of love vibes and a whole raft of avant-gardening takes place before your ears. Imagine if Aldous Huxley had picked up the guitar and not the pen…
Seven albums in and Echo Park Orchestra has only just blipped on my radar, still that just means that there is a whole expanse of back catalogue that I need to get acquainted with. Stand well back, I’m going in….