[Album Review] Elura- Solace
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Release Date: August 22nd, 2016
Label: Midden Records

Elura continue their fascination with the exploration of inhospitable places. This time the “place” is not the icy desolation of wintery fields (see their debut album ‘Everything You Loved Will Be Carried Away’) but more the darkness in the far reaches of the room that is our existence. Again the band revels in loss, finds beauty in despair, and is drawn in by the allure of mournfulness.

As with the first album, most of the tracks have an atmospheric, ethereal quality to them. This is by no means by chance. Care is taken in production to create the right amount of reverb or echo, and to make full use of the the space between the notes. The tone is hardly light and airy, however. The heavy pall of melancholia comes partly from the downbeat rhythm, partly from the lyrics and partly from the way the lyrics are sung. The male singer sounds vulnerable and unsure of himself, and at times the vocals even devolve into moaning. This is all done deliberately to create a certain mood and Elura succeed admirably.

The title track “Solace” provides a classic example of their style. The guitars are mostly acoustic  and their strummed chords reverberate in the air. The introduction of bass part-way through may lend some structure but it does nothing to add any weight to the piece, which defiantly drifts without gravity. Elsewhere this formula is played with by adding elements such as looped field noises (“Crescent Hill”), sustained guitar distortion (“Joshua II”), eerie tremolo (Windows”), and echoing (“Outside the Wind is Blowing”). In a moment of near folly, the band gets downright medieval in “The Lamb”, with its flutes and baroque folk vocals that verge on madrigal.

Throughout the entirety of “Solace” the band keeps things eerie, dark and even a little disturbing. The song “Joshua II” has arguably the most “conventional” song structure (relatively speaking), and yet the vocals are so strangely executed that it becomes one of the oddest tracks on the album. Distorted field noises and exquisitely discordant guitars lends to the overall creepiness. The song actually features a percussive beat, but it is forlorn, perhaps suicidal even, in the realization it is trapped within the sombre confines of an Elura song. You should appreciate by now that I mean that as the utmost compliment.