EP Island is a musical comet that flashes across the horizon every so often when its composite members and any guests they bring along have the time and the inclination to get together.
Over the past four or five years LL Schultz (vocals, guitar, recording engineer) and Melanie Covey (percussion) have been stepping away from their other, more structured projects to produce EPs that are conceived, recorded and mastered in the space of a single weekend. These gatherings are scheduled as intense, three day blitzes of creativity; they are small musical explosions that come and go in less time than it would take some bands to position all the microphones for their recordings.
Since the 2008 release of their first three-tracker, Good’ish, LL and chums have released Rad’ish, Sweet’ish and have just whipped the covers off of this year’s Electr’ish, each one being its own little immediate gem with a short life-span.
Electr’ish is ten minutes of enthralling song writing. Lending a lot to a 90’s education in music, there is a Smashing Pumpkins-type sound that floods your headphones with just as much slick and well mastered guitar as anything Billy Corgan would’ve churned out. It has the same perpetual feel behind it, like a rockslide of chords that would need the entire foot of a neighbouring mountain to stop it. This is no shoe-gazer, misery-grunge effort though; there’s a fresh, bright edge slicing through it all and an echo of Joan Jett peeking through at times. It’s a forceful combination.
Opening with Places Everyone you are treated to a geyser of energy that bursts out through some distant slide guitar and gives your ear drums a good kick, snapping you to attention. For a song that comes in at under three minutes it lurches through an incredible range of different tempos and textures, painting an audio landscape with a curled lip on its face and blisters on its fingers.
The vocals cling onto sanity by bloodied claws, spitting chunk after chunk of feral strain and angst into your brain. It’s the audio equivalent of running full tilt into on-coming traffic and leaving nothing but spare parts in your wake.
The following tracks never really manage to take things to the same level but are, as individual songs, remarkably good considering they are also the product of just twenty four hours of writing, twenty four hours of recording and a bit of Apple-based wizardy for the mastering.
Just Left My Home is the soundtrack to forcing your way through stormy weather. Menacing guitar licks creep around on a bed of pulsating bass riffs from start to finish. It’s a more melodic offering with harmonies sliding in and out of the different layers of the song. Maybe a more conventional rock song in terms of structure but none the less captivating – especially after the third or fourth listen when the depth of the thing finally seeps through.
Epic Bea is the most “PJ Harvey” of all these tracks. A testament to how a simple structure, the right chords and honest writing can give rise to really good songs. Raising the tempo again, this would probably be the most “commercially devourable” with rousing melodies and what seems to be the slickest production on the EP – but the commercial element doesn’t come into play here, that isn’t what all this is about. This is about releasing creativity.
It is genuinely amazing what you can do if you’ve got the right people in the same place, for even the shortest amount of time. The only down side it that, at three songs long, Electr’ish is cruelly short (yes I know it’s only an EP but…)
Picture a child, captivated by the perfection of a sleeping puppy under a blanket. The child bends down to pick up the puppy only to discover, upon lifting the peaceful pooch out of its bed, that the arse end is missing. I can only imagine how disappointing that would be for a six year old – probably about as disappointing as it was for me when faced with silence, nine minutes and fifty two seconds into this EP.
We should all hope Schultz, Covey and friends will post a few more bits of the puppy out to us soon.