Gone is Gone mastermind Mike Zarin was adamant in his interview with us that this record would sound nothing like the other bands featuring its constituent players.
Yet there are times when it does, though certainly not overtly. Troy Sanders has such a distinctive voice that anything he touches is going to have a hint of Mastodon about it, but overall Zarin was right. Echolocation is very much the creation of Gone is Gone, and not that of a bunch of guys from different bands.
Building on the atmospheric framework of Zarin and Tony Hajjar’s previous soundtrack work, Echolocation is a widely varied release, opening with the deceptively quiet ‘Sentient’ that is crushed under a wall of guitar at the two-minute mark. ‘Gift’ steps up the pace with a more aggressive approach from Troy van Leeuwen, and then ‘Resurge’ offers something different again as Sanders’ bass conjures a drone-like effect and Hajjar adds a tribal element.
Variation, it seems, is the hallmark of Echolocation and the instrument of its success. It is an album that constantly shifts mood, with deliberate juxtapositioning such as the discordant drone of ‘Slow Awakening’ back-to-back with the punkish pacing of its evil twin ‘Fast Awakening’, the haunting plod of ‘Dublin’ and the solid groove of ‘Ornaments’. Throughout, the playing is outstanding, especially from Hajjar who contrives to bring something different to the table in every track, and Zarin who flavours everything with moody and ethereal synth. Some of Sanders’ stream-of-consciousness lyrics are obscure to the point of making no sense and there are times where you expect the band to break out of the fairly straight-forward songwriting mould that permeates and become more expansive, but not doing that was probably exactly the point for Sanders and Hajjar. Still, the listener might be left slightly frustrated at the thought of how astonishing Gone is Gone could actually be if the writing had been a little more inspired
Echolocation is a solid experiment and an intriguing listening experience, even if it promised a little more than it truly delivers.
9. Slow Awakening
10. Fast Awakening