Exploring Echo Us' deep & ethereal past uncovers an Inland Empire...
Inland Empire, Echo Us' seventh full-length studio album might be seen as an epilogue to the original Echo Us trilogy (2009-2014). The music compiles almost everything that didn't fit onto the Echo Us trilogy - The Tide Decides (2009), Tomorrow Will Tell The Story (2012), and II:XII, A Priori Memoriae (2014).
Inland Empire was completed at the same time as A Priori Memoriae, but is a closer cousin to the award-winning Tomorrow Will Tell The Story - deep, ambient, and consciousness-shifting. As years passed and other releases came, the album was kept as an archival work except for one track (It’s Time For Winter) which saw limited release as a single in fall 2016.
Unlike many archival works Inland Empire will be very new to Echo Us and Ethan Matthews fans, and appears in 2023 exactly how it sounded in 2013 - down to the use of the original mix and masters.
The Windsong Spires brings Echo Us’ musical journey back to earth’s atmosphere: weaving ethereal, classical voice with its trademark ambient sound waves. The titles of the two and three part suites form a continuous musical story, and act as an interpretive metaphor for the listener.
If You Can Imagine brings back the classic male/female vocal duet arrangements central to the project’s more recent years, while I’ll Wave You In harkens back to the anthemic synth-driven melancholy of the Echo Us debut (2005).
Joining Ethan Matthews is drummer/percussionist Andrew Greene, who played drums on 2009’s The Tide Decides and has performed with many Pacific Northwest bands both live and studio. For the first time since 2014, female vocals take center stage, as Echo Us is joined by Charlotte Engler, a classical vocalist who frequently performs with choral ensembles Cantores in Ecclesia and Cappella Romana.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is the first Echo Us album since the conclusion of the trilogy memoriam in 2014. "Wake" represents Echo Us' visionary take on Celtic music in both modern and ancient form- from the Irish and Breton Aires "May Morning Dew" and "Doina", to the 14 minute Celtic-infused epic "From The Highlands", penned by Matthews. To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us' follow up to the critically acclaimed II:XII, A Priori Memoriae (2014), and the Independent Music award-winning Tomorrow Will Tell the Story (2012). PREORDER HERE (UNTIL NOV 28th)
In 2011 and 2013 Echo Us’ 4th album became a reality, and drew the ‘trilogy’ started with 2009’s The Tide Decides to a close. A Priori is by far the most challenging work of Echo Us music and was composed in quick bursts, with even fewer real song structures than the previous albums which featured multiple shorter compositions within their larger body of work. A Priori featured the vocals of Henta (Tomorrow Will Tell The Story), a variety of woodwind players and harpist Raelyn Olson, as well as Matthew’s playing many more instruments than before, including harmonium, glockenspiel, percussion, and classical guitar. The album reached top of 2014 lists in a number of progressive music websites and magazines.
In 2007 the third Echo Us full length began its very early beginnings while The Tide Decides was still being completed. The first track recorded (Ears of Eras) suggested a thematic journey into the purgatory experienced after its predecessor’s leaving of the earthly plane (The Tide Decides). However, what followed in the preceding months was: multiple sessions of automatic writing, channeling performed by Matthews in Hebrew and English, and a variety of other ‘spiritualist’ phenomena. The process of making the album was more of a ‘ritual’ than just music composition, and the album also grew to contain not only Judaic terms, but also choral soundscapes, meditations, and chants of the three most dominate world religions.
The Tide Decides first started showing birth-pangs in late 2003, with the composition of the lyric and intro of “From Snow to Sea” at a coffee shop in Northwest Portland, Oregon. Originally the album was thematically congruent with a lot of the focus in the media on environmental issues, and some of the final lyrics did suggest the connection. However, as the composition of the album took 3 years or more, it began to tell an interwoven story of the life of one person, and the life of the earth as if they moved in tandem, in time perfectly with one another. The album featured multiple session musicians (most notably harpist Raelyn Olson), and over 70 minutes worth of music that flowed seamlessly from track to track, a technique that later became integral to the sound of Echo Us.
Echo Us’ first full-length was a transitionary affair spanning the older, early sound of the band in its first live incarnation from 2000-2001 to Matthew’s interest in soundscapes and forms of compositional ‘minimalism’ explored in his ‘directed study’ and Music Synthesis work and degree at Berklee College of Music in 2002-2003. The ironically titled “Directed Study” is a nod to both a psychological analysis, as well as his final project at Berklee, and the only time music he’s composed under study was also released commercially, all be it in remixed form in this 2005 release.