Thursday 2 June 2022


We're taking another deep dive into my digital archives this time with another visit to Echochamber's work - a very short lived project with only a few releases to their name (including one that used to be on bandcamp but no longer is). Today we'll be looking at their final offering, a 'compilation mixtape' called Era - don't let the album art fool you, this isn't a Vaporwave record. I've spent a lot of time with it recently, it's the kind of release that lends itself well to my kind of listening where I just hit shuffle and hold on tight. Let's take a look at some selections from it.

The reviews on the BC page both mention it being a lo-fi hip hop release, which is partially true, but don't lump this in with your dime a dozen YouTube producers of that kind of thing. Much like I'm Real, I'm Here that I've covered previously, it occasionally dips into more House style territory. Maybe it's just because I've been listening to a lot of Swayzak lately, but tracks like Iv feel like they are kind of in the same boat. It's a great atmosphere setter, the whole thing feels very handmade which I've come to really enjoy, a great contrast to my recent hi-tech postings.

I'm hopping around the tracklist here and my bias for the more downtempo side of things is very much influencing my choices here so bear that in mind. That's part of the appeal of this release for me though, from the bombastic trappings of Shimmering Black to the much more sedate bracketfive [low battery mix], this compilation covers a ton of ground in its 25 tracks. The lo-fi DIY feel really works here on bracketfive, that intro is delightfully fuzzy and makes for a very dreamy atmosphere.

Let's shine a light on the other side of the compilation now, heading into that hip hop direction. We're not doing a breakneck dive in though, I figure I'd bridge the gap a little bit, which I think Beyond The Yeb does very well indeed. It reminds me a fair bit of the kind of lounge-house that appeared on some of Guidance Recordings' compilations, Echochamber's work has a real ear for melodies which I think is really neat, helps to break that lo-fi cliché of it being 100% sample based. Speaking of, Beyond also breaks trend with my previous choices above, there's no looming analogue haze here and things don't sound super compressed - it was the right choice to make here, the clarity really lets the intricacies of this one shine and freshens up the tracklist nicely.

Let's finish that dive now with Mind Occure, we're back in compressed territory but it sounds just as great as ever. Bursting onto the forefront at around 15 seconds, the intro makes a very strong impression. I've not mentioned it as of yet, but a lot of the tracks on Era are fairly short which sort of goes hand-in-hand with the previously established 'indie compilation mixtape' style that it has, but its by far and away the most prominent here out of all my choices so far. Around the 1:47 mark, Mind Occure gets switched up, you can still hear its relation to the 'original' though - not content with just that, we get another switch up at 2:29, where the tune comes to a sudden stop and changes groove completely before fading out. This 'cobbled together' approach is charming, if a little jarring at first listen.

And finally, one proper lo-fi sample based tune for the road. Easily the most stereotypical lo-fi hip hop track on here, you've probably heard tunes like Rituals a million times before. And yet I can't deny that I have a fondness for them, despite being overplayed and all, sometimes a little dollop of somethin' like this just hits the spot. Echochamber's choice of sample here is on point, it has a really nice groove and it gets played with in interesting ways to keep it fresh. I can't really fault them for including this, given the sheer variety on show with the other tracks I've mentioned its not like it was a phoned in addition to pad out the runtime.

And that'll be all for today, hope you've enjoyed this little look into the archives with me, Era is an absolute bargain at $3, well worth picking up if you've enjoyed my brief overview today. Apologies for the slight delay, it's about this time of year we get busy in my line of work, and it's been the first proper 'return' to things for a couple of years so it's been pretty flat out. I've set aside some time to knock out a couple of posts this weekend though and I'll schedule them out as and when. But until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


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