Echo Lake was initially a bedroom project, a group whose early recordings betrayed an almost painfully shy sense of introversion.
Since then, the band have developed a broader, more open voice. Debut album 'Wild Peace' was rightfully acclaimed, with its shoegaze wash delivered with a painterly sense of beauty.
New album 'ERA' is out today (March 2nd) and it's a wonderful return. Featuring seven tracks spread across its 45 minutes, Echo Lake have developed a space rock sense of muscle, with reference points including Neu! and Spacemen 3.
The band's Thom Hill explores a few of the prominent influences during the making of 'ERA'.
Women - 'Can't You See'
Choosing the album opener is always the hardest track because it's really easy to just go for the standard, two minute, instrumental "intro" track. I was tempted but we ended up going for an eight minute, three chord, half instrumental pop song. This set the tone for pretty much the whole album and I think we owed a lot to this song in particular for just being such a weird and inspiring way to open a record. The overall production and sound of public strain was a massive inspiration, gritty, warm and experimental.
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The Velvet Underground - 'I Found A Reason'
I'll always try and include any Velvets or Beach Boys stuff in the "influences" list whenever I can, so this maybe seems like a lazy inclusion. But listening to this song a lot during the making of 'ERA' really kept me going, not just because it's a great song but because it made me realise that there was space on the record for pop songs and love songs and it didn't have to be all droning synths, walls of sound etc... We could make an album of whatever we wanted.
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Destroyer - 'Savage Night At The Opera'
One of the best albums of the past ten years, I still listen to this all the time. It was on repeat during the 'Wild Peace' sessions and 'ERA' too. I even nearly experimented with using the sax on some of the tracks, because of this album. Luckily I didn't go down that route.... I think only this record manages it, which is what keeps it very special.
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William Basinski - 'The Disintegration Loop'
There's more space on 'ERA' than on any of our other records, although we did try keep it quite intense with the dense style of production we had always gone for. I've always been a big fan of ambient music and when we first started out, I had this idea of us being some sort of ambient pop act but it kind of manifested in a different way. I'd never been able to get it right and I feel that on 'ERA' we achieved the balance to a certain extent. This was largely due to understanding ourselves more but also building on influences the right way, this album being one of them, amongst others.
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The The - 'This Is The Day'
'ERA' was nearly an hour long at one point. I knew we had to make some cuts but didn't want to ditch any of the longer, more expansive tracks. 'Soul Mining' is a record I've been in love with since I was a kid and it's a huge influence on me. This record was originally seven tracks long but their label added bonus tracks to the different versions released in different countries. But if you listen to it as intended, at seven tracks long it manages to be a great combination at immediate pop and experimintation. This gave me the confidence to shorten 'ERA' to seven tracks and to see the album as one piece, rather than a collection of songs.
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'ERA' is out now.