Since the release of pysch-poppers Yeti Lane’s much acclaimed debut album, the French band parted ways with founding member LoAc Carron, which effectively meant that the band were left with a collection of songs that they couldn’t use. This in itself is a great pity considering the strength of the material on that album, but sometimes things happen for a reason, and The Echo Show goes some way to proving that unfortunate circumstances can have positive outcomes despite unwelcome diversions.
Assuming that no sudden departures occur this time around, The Echo Show should find Yeti Lane collecting a considerable pile of plaudits. Duo Ben Pleng and Charlie B have come up with an album that sounds immense and more expansive than perhaps might have been expected considering the loss of a band member.
The colossal opening track Analog Wheel sets out Yeti Lane’s approach comprehensively. From the initial shiver of humble electronic glitches, the track opens out into an all encompassing shoegaze-electro meditation. It’s a slow burn, effortlessly building layers and momentum until it’s too late not to be engulfed in the snowballing shimmering sonics. Most importantly, Yeti Lane’s ability to build carefully crafted dynamic compositions is complimented perfectly with a knack for finding exquisite melodies and injecting them into the mix. Each part of the duo brings their particular expertise (B – Soundscapes and noise, Pleng – “good songs”) to the table, allowing them to collectively create something that is more often than not, rather magical.
Title track The Echo Show continues the satisfying mix of soundscape and pop melody explored on Analog Wheel, but gets to the pay off considerably quicker. Pleng’s vocals sit on top of the thrum of electronics and guitar chaos as beautifully as a shimmer of oil on a fresh autumnal puddle. They never quite capitulate to the shimmering waves, instead floating delicately, and adding colour. Warning Sensations heads in a Krautrock direction with a motorik beat but any notion of robotic chill is swept aside by the Pleng’s delicate vocals and some 1950s flavoured guitar interjections. It’s a balance that the band has perfected; for all the duo’s nods to electro and Kraftwerk in particular, there’s a human heart pumping in the centre of these songs.
At the mid-point of the album is Alba, a beautiful folk song that bends towards Pleng’s pop sensibility despite the whistling radio interference provided by B. The chorus strays from the gentle strummed verses and for just a moment finds time to indulge in a little overblown ’80s styled pop bombast. At the conclusion is the stunning pairing of Sparkling Sunbeam and Faded Spectrum. Sparkling Sunbeam – with David-Ivar Herman Düne harmonising – is a perfect slice of cosmic dream-pop that relies as much on its glorious shifting guitar pattern as it does its soaring keyboard parts. If Neil Young ever decided to stuff himself full of happy pills rather than consuming whatever it is that makes him so cantankerous then he’d sound not unlike this. His presence is most certainly felt in the closing guitar break, which switches between sweet melody and roaring wah-wah noise.
Faded Spectrum meanwhile is a drone-electro-guitar beast that sounds like a high-rise building collapsing as Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Can jam in the basement. This time it’s B’s noise influence coming to the fore. Pleng’s melodic sensibilities just about keep things in check, but sometimes it pays to embrace the chaos.
It’s the duo’s capacity to work together and utilise their impendent strengths for the good of the song that makes The Echo Show such a strong album. The balance between melody and chaos is in perfect equilibrium, creating a truly epic piece of work.