Imogen Heap’s third solo album “Ellipse” has seemed like a long time coming. We’ve been treated to a fantastic iBlog that walked us through the production and gave us tantalising snippets of what was to come but now it’s been out for over a month we’ve had time to digest it all and finally reach our conclusion – Immi has definitely done it again!
The album opens with the deceptively simple “First Train Home” which is a safe transition track from Speak For Yourself to Ellipse. It has a great hook and great musical techno-babble running through it. What’s great to hear is that if you get the deluxe version with the instrumentals, you can hear all kinds of noises and bleeps that refuse to immediately jump out at you on the first few listens. It shows the start of what is very much an album that is so creatively weaved to make so many little sounds bleed into one big simple sound, you can miss the beauty of it.
“Wait It Out” is a show stopper. Immi’s vocoder traits are fantastic here and so is the constant build up of euphoria only to be left with a downcast ending which really makes this track stand out. If this isn’t used in a film, I’ll eat my webpage! “Earth” takes Imogen’s vocals a further level to Bjork’s Medulla’s standard of making the vast majority of the track out of them. Anti-beatboxing and vocal harmonies and melodies soar through this fun track. The computer wizardry really stands out here.
“Little Bird” is an interesting track due to how the track is made. It’s a repeating phrase of music that gradually changes and grows into something that is quite heartbreaking and moving yet still has a swish to it.
The next two tracks are would-be singles are two of my favourites on the album. “Swoon” is an electro-pop track that has a great chorus hook and a bridge to die for, yet still is quirky and individual and any pop song using a theremin gets my vote! “Tidal” is my favourite track on the album however. It runs at such a pace and the keyboard guitar plinks in the chorus working alongside some sumptuous strings and great male Asian vocal undertones, it just falls effortlessly into place. The last 30 seconds really let loose in a way the rest of the album doesn’t too. Sublime!
“Between Sheets” is a melodic track full of rich arpeggios that flow effortlessly and the understated chorus is refreshing and leaves more to the imagination than words could do. “2-1” is the most dramatic track on the album. Full of Eastern influence and is full of booming bass warps and the lyrics are particularly of a genius fashion, although the lyrics are a highlight throughout. The bridge is the highlight of this track.
“Bad Body Double” is possibly the only track I struggled with. Talk singing always grates with me and it’s fun and randomness seems a little bit out of place when played with the rest of the album. After several listens though the chorus will take over and you’ll be off and away. “Aha!” however is the album’s manic track. At just two and half minutes it crams in so much and pulses so quickly you’ll be helpless not to be pulled in by its crazed world. Inspired and catchy.
“The Fire” is a cute and warm (excuse the pun) interlude which is just piano played to a crackling fire background but transitions perfectly for the mind blowing “Canvas” which is one of the best songs Imogen has done in terms of scope and depth. There is such a grand sense about it and much how “Cumulus” was stunning, “Canvas” takes the style and adds layer upon layer of beautiful soundscapes over it. When watched with the music video, it really makes an extra impact. The closing track is “Half Life” which is a nice ballad which is piano led but evolves into a typical Heap ballad but remains sweet and infectious throughout.
Ellipse doesn’t really stride into new territory a great deal but it takes what Speak For Yourself and really runs with the concepts done there and makes beautiful new things with them. The advantage of electro-music is you can stay relatively fresh by using different samples. Imogen’s latest is more of the same but then when you’re the best at doing it, I would take more of the same again and again! A fantastic album that will continue to grow long after you’ve first listened to it.