Elaes is an artist who acts as much as a signpost for where music technology has got to, as much as anything else. He makes music at a crossroads, a place where digital technologies replicate analogue sounds. A place where the gentle uplift of the late night, clubland beats are subdued by a more world-weary attitude. It is the sound of past dance moves being subsumed by the bedroom creativity (or at least a clever impersonation of it) that affordable technology allows. It glows with the familiarity of established comfort zones yet offers enough freshness to be considered an essential step into the future. And that is a scary and exciting place to find yourself.
But One Way is an impressive album. Simple in its conception, programmed beats drive more understated vocal deliveries and the space between making for the perfect echo chamber where the beats and voice are given the freedom to percolate and pool, to bleed into one another to create rich atmospherics and gentle anticipation. Simple in conception, perhaps, but elegantly executed. As they say, it ain’t what you do; it’s how you do it. Elaes does it brilliantly.
Generally downbeat but stopping short of melancholy, it is a trip-hop, slow jam that echoes and vibes with the sound of late-night parties winding down as the sun rises. The soundtrack to an intimate conversation in shaded rooms. Musical philosophies with an addictive edge. Beatific beats dressed up with honest lyrics.
Blame is perhaps the most atypical track, indulging as it does in more indie guitar salvos but even then tied to more alt-pop or dance rhythms. But for the most part, the songs feel closer, intimate, one-to-one conversations, as if the music is an old friend pouring wit and wisdom into your ear. Stay is a skittering trap-beat slice of gentle pop, My Mind is lilting and lovingly spacious, and Rays is an urban blues piece for the modern age.
Not every album has to take the world by storm. Some can gently seduce the more discerning listeners over a longer period of time. Not every musical act as to be a call for revolution. Evolution has always proved the more powerful force in the long run. Music doesn’t need reinventing when you can mix those few fundamental building blocks into glorious, new sonic architecture.
How do I know? Because I have just listened to Elaes and, more specifically, One Way.