Etherwood – In Stillness Review

 

After a three year long wait, we finally have a third studio effort from infamous Hospital producer, Etherwood. Having joined the Med School imprint label at Hospital in 2012, he took the drum and bass world by storm; releasing his self-titled debut album shortly after. He then refined his sound further for his second release, Blue Leaves, combining the liquid/minimal elements of his debut with added orchestral cinematics. This cinematic, liquid minimalism has amalgamated to a climax with the release of In Stillness.

 

In the run-up to the release, it was announced that Etherwood had taken time off to explore the Finnish wilderness. This gives rise to the albums main theme of finding tranquillity in total isolation. Just from looking at the artwork you are immediately transported into a different world. Like his previous efforts, there is an intense focus on nature, isolation and exploration. This time, however, we are not wandering through golden forests soaking in the first of the day’s sunlight; we are absorbing the atmosphere of a reclusive wilderness, reminiscent of Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography in The Revenant.

Still from The Revenant

The album opens with the title track, placing us next to Etherwood as he explores new landscapes. Euphoria overrides any other emotion as the pads and drums take over from the piano and vocals. In songs such as Taken Away, however, euphoria is exchanged for emotional seclusion. The classical style piano and choir evoke feelings of the past; depending on the listener regret or elation. The album also allows room for some staples of the drum and bass genre, such as vocal chopping and breakbeat in Lay Your Armour Down; this is done tastefully, without taking any poignancy away from the message of the album. Although based in different genres, there are hints of inspiration from artists such as ATTLAS and Nils Frahm throughout the record. Both of which are innovative in their respective genres but have to strike a balance between established conventions and transformative components.

Like the previous albums, the start of In Stillness pushes us to observe the nature that surrounds us. However, by the end of the album, Etherwood and therefore the listener has come to the realisation that we too are nature. Etherwood has created an album that has the ability to portray a person’s emotional isolation as well as expressing an individual’s ecstasy. It ultimately echoes the euphoria and loneliness of the nature it was inspired by.

Peace & Love

Charlie Vickers.

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