Following on from the fascinating release that was Story Of Stephen, El Viaje releases another EP of conceptually intriguing originals, this time under the title Somewhere Else.
Ever the cinematic, attention-to-detail producer and sound designer, Viaje leads with immediately interesting fragments of audio, and the subsequent embrace of a uniquely crafted soundscape and trip-hop-inspired beat. Already we’re thrown into this somewhat vintage world of melody and rhythm.
L.F.L.T presents a dreamlike, retro yet compelling audio realm, with a distant melodic story-line that intertwines with the selected historical vocals in a beautifully hypnotic, interesting way. From the offset it’s clear – this is precisely the kind of project I’d turn to when the weight of the world is feeling too heavy to handle.
Zero Euphoria (Afterhours) follows on and immediately sets a different pace and mood. The elements still recall the El Viaje style, but here we get a sci-fi-like wash of fuzzy synths and dark intensity. Heavy bass-work and striking vocals contrast this at the higher end – these unite and weave around you a deeply moving, captivating soundscape of thought and feeling. The level of creativity is stunning, incredibly original, refreshing, and undoubtedly something that quickly prompts you to share it with a friend.
As with the opening track, there seems to be two compositions in one – the latter half feeling like a sequel to what already came to pass; even inclusive of the original ideas presented in the opening piece. Thus, the threads between the EP’s tracks begin to show themselves.
Heavy Hangs The Head offers the same distinctive change in direction half-way through. This time around we’re in a completely new arena of sound, a fuller wave of energy and soul again intertwine, partly feeling like the lo-fi chill-hop of 2020, partly feeling incredibly timeless and unusual in set-up.
Price For Nothingness (Thorns) sees things get aptly more intense and gritty. Those same threads from earlier reappear, and the piece stops and starts in a similarly unexpected fashion, the main rhythm and progression though signifies a briefly darker, more uncertain phase, before resolving to adopt the warmth of a keys and riff-led new ambiance.
Ending Lost is a personal favorite, there’s an immediately emotional aura to the progression and the subtle passion of the opening vocal. Blending synths and retro keys, uniting melancholy and joy, amidst a heavy and satisfying, upfront beat, the track brightens up the room and provides a powerful hit of escapism for wandering minds. Beautifully crafted, a six-minute experience that consistently seeks to inspire a new direction of thought.
Keys lead again for Abandoned Place (Ex[i]s[t][ends]), alongside warped notes that re-imagine those cinematic layers to present a new scene, followed by a new energy and lightly industrial rhythm. The experimental aspect continues throughout, reaching somewhat unsettling peaks during the latter half.
Then we get the closing track IIDT, featuring perhaps the most engaging monologue yet, angst-driven but supported by an almost jazz-cafe-like delicacy and calm. And of course, the latter half flips this theory on its head, injecting a heavy EDM beat and a vibrant, euphoric boost of volume and colour at the final hurdle, utilizing contrast to a sublime degree.
Another musical notch successfully added to the versatile belt of El Viaje – a producer who takes his time to build artistic, unpredictable audio experiences for his listeners; delving into each story and process with an uninhibited desire to create and communicate and immerse. A fantastic EP – on repeat for the foreseeable future.