What does Elsiane sound like?
Dramatic ethereal new wave music with influences from around the world.
The review of Elsiane – E L S I A N E
Carving their own path for well over 15 years, Elsiane reach their latest album without much change to their sound… and that’s okay. Very few artists have a distinct and unique sound and Elsiane are able to shift around their ethereal wave and world music influences enough to sound consistent but never uniform. This self-titled release comes five years after their last album (a collaboration) and six from their last Elsiane-only album. It has taken a long time to get here but the wait was worth it.
The key central forces for an Elsiane record are vocals, drums and synths. Elsieanne Caplette’s voice is just as hypnotic and soaring as ever. If anything, this album channels some of her softer register. In the dreamy twilight synths and nylon guitar-infused ‘Loneliness’, she softly rises and falls over the octaves and hushedly coos you into a trance. Whilst the duo is never shy of a softer ballad, there is a peaceful tranquillity here that’s lighter than most of their output – and indeed this album.
Whether it is the curiosity of unusual vocal delivery or the gothic sinister side of the chord progressions, most of this album sounds foreboding and beautiful in equal measure. On the more abstract tracks like ‘Soul Travelling’, we veer into mystical ambient as Caplette’s voice warps around our ears moving from vessel to vessel. We also have the yearning celestial rock of ‘Fading Star’. Here, the silent side of Elsiane Stephane Sotto turns his drums into a shimmering clang of metals, cymbals and shakers. After a long build-up, the track turns to rolling tom drums as a cascading ramble over dreamy vocals pleading for a star’s whereabouts. Both these tracks showcase the radiant beauty of Elsiane.
Elsewhere, it’s dark and dramatic. Closing song ‘Under Aghast’ is a deep piano and vocal led track with distant organs doing their gothic b-movie best in the background. The opening half of the album contains three epic tracks that are symphonic ethereal world folk rock treats. ‘Traces of the Heart’ takes us to Armenia with the dudek taking a central role. The serpentine reeds weave mystical magic that the tripping beats, strings and synths all follow. In a moment of personal humour, my mum is a passing fan of Elsiane and she misheard the chorus lyric. Cue my mum singing “praise for me the Antelope” like she knew the song inside out. Now I can’t hear anything else – thanks mum.
‘Sinai’ is an Elsiane classic. Big drums, dramatic horns and strings married with a war guitar. It swells like a cinematic universe on the brink of explosion and Caplette’s voice captivates you with her almost Inuit nasal tone. My personal favourite is ‘Tu Mirada’ and it’s the darkest sounding piece. Rumbling drums, dramatic chants and a symphonic string, brass and flamenco guitar bring the drama. It is the tension and dark seduction we expect from an Elsiane album distilled into a single track.
‘E L S I A N E’ is a great return from the duo and whilst it doesn’t step away from their core sound, it shows exactly why they are so great at what they do. Long term fans will adore this as it brings more of the same. New fans can start here and work backwards because it gives a great overview of the Elsiane sound. Welcome back, it has been too long.
Recommended track: Tu Mirada
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