Choreographer / vocalist Aleksandra Mirjana Crossan and composer / producer Donovan John Szypura are the Swiss based band Earthphish. They are also the award winning dance company Earthphish Dance.
2003 saw the release of their 12 track debut LP Soft Green Exit, a rhythmically charged compilation of ambient trip hop tinged with experimental hues and poetic lyric. This album is an excellent study of the trip hop genre.
This year (2006) they released a four track self titled EP. It was this EP that caught my attention in the wee hours of the morning as I was trolling CD Baby for an audio fix. It's trip hop roots are easily heard yet it is progressively infused with soul and makes heavy use of organic sounds in a similitude of electronic dance.
These two components (soul and organic sound with an electronic vibe) yield a more luminous ambiance than their previous release that sways it pop-ward. A standout for this soulfulness is the song Frank. There's also some subdued funk that is most readily heard in Something New.
The percussion envelope sustain parameters have been dramatically shortened relative to Soft Green Exit. Less sizzle on the high hats and cymbals and/or electronic counterparts/equivalents. This yields a cleaner and tighter sound which is more appropriate for this album I think as they've moved away from the previously more jazzy trip hop beats.
This time around the mic has been given entirely to Aleksandra's voice. She kind of reminds me of Madonna minus the helium. Her voice is sandy (rich) which adds warmth to it's brightness. I'm very fond of her singing in general and I'm impressed with her technical control. She understands and makes use of the dynamics and metrics of her voice and how they relate to the music.
My favorite track on this release is Stop Breathing. The chorus is an infectious hook and, as with Earthphish in general, it's very driven rhythmically.
Along with rhythmic energy there is a lachrymose aspect in harmony and lyric that has been constant throughout their works. The mundane can make us ache with a weary soreness for color sometimes and in our primal thirst we look to the dark in search of some manner of slaking contrast -- things to make us feel. Earthphish is a bittersweet lozenge of audio relief.
The production quality of this EP is tops -- as good as it gets.
If I had to tersely sum up my thoughts on the album I'd use a genre moniker I saw on their CD Baby page that thought I was a typo. No typo -- it fits perfectly -- trip pop.
Links for Earthphish:
Soft Green Exit
Be sure to check out their website for information on their dance company, press, a dossier in English and German for both their dance and music, video clips and more. It's impressive -- they really put work into making it a good Earthphish info source with lots of links.