Musical collective 404 Guild went on hiatus last summer following the passing of lead member Mina aka Silvertongue. In this space for healing, two members decided to create together again.
Born from a kitchen in Catford, Elison 404’s Pebbledash is an observation of bleakness and hope in 13 staggering tracks. With their history stretching years back to origins in Eastbourne, the collective’s recognition in the past year or so – cemented in a signing from Dirty Hit records who seem to have made it their mission to take on some of the most exciting artists in the world right now (see: Rina Sawayama, Gia Ford).
‘Pebbledash’ creates a blistering but sedative experience, existing just songs apart. The pair strike the match hard and fast before the opening track ‘Perfect Dark’, has a chance to settle. "Joy not fear", they declare. A call, a chant, an outlook arching through an album where the narrators are both blessed and plagued by modern life.
The collaborative nature of what 404 set out to do is clear the pair's expansive musical knowledge. References pooled together from UK garage, jazz, lo-fi R&B keep everything flowing seamlessly.
‘Pebbledash’ is constantly moving forwards. The production on ‘Chip Pan’ transitions seamlessly from a gritty breakbeat backdrop to something akin to eurodance piano, a standout moment. Elison 404’s anxieties hit their peak in ‘Government Name’ and ‘F1 Hotel’, where lyrics feel spat rather than sang. Patterns emerge: distortion, calm, disruption, calm again.
Woozier tracks require zero patience, the hypnotic flows of ‘PS2’ and the stunning addition of labelmate Gia Ford makes for slush covered, soulful listening until an AI voiceover brings the song to a close.
Penultimate track ‘Harvest Assembly’ demands ‘if you have something to say, go ahead and say it’. Elison 404 have taken their own advice, creating a fluid, visual album that stands as a clear contender for one of the UK’s most exciting releases in 2020 so far.
Words: Shannon McDonagh
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