Elytral is the second album by English singer/songwriter Mary Epworth. Her 2012 debut album, Dream Life, contained some wonderful melodic pop songs that took in psychedelic and folk influences. This time she turns to her dark side adding fractured soundscapes, avant-garde electronics, prog and free jazz to the mix. Recorded in LA at producer, Thom Monahan’s Golden Void Studio.
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Mary Epworth has certainly gone to town on the vocal effects on the opening 'Gone Rogue' which contains a saxophone solo so vicious that I want to punch Robin in the face. The sax adds a bit of jazz skronk to a track that otherwise is made up of bubbly low keyboard effects and that stretched to the sky voice.
With this and the slow starting 'Last Night', Epworth shows that she's not in the 'please like me' brand of songwriter but it's a tough beginning to the record particularly when acres of distorted synth take over the track and ensure that you'll not hear much else for the rest of the day. I suspected from the press release that Epworth was heading along the line of Jane Weaver with this her second album but this is a much more splintered and cracked beast. At no point does Epworth seem to want the listener to be comfortable. The tracks are scattershot and spiky - often moving along at snails pace with electronics jutting out of the mix - her voice as I suggested earlier is ladled with effects - sometimes there's hints of overkill and you just want to hear the natural voice.
Generally coming in between Zola Jesus and Bat For Lashes it is a ferocious often shamanic work of oddball electronic pop - sometimes over souped in effects - you kind of wait for a moment of simplicity to counteract the awkwardness there are hints of more straightforward pop in 'Burned it Down' and finally some sweetness in 'Towards the Dawn' but by this point my ears are shattered. It's an interesting, complex and not at all palatable work which I want to listen to a few more times to try to get a handle on.
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