Eisenwald continues to have one of the more diverse and interesting rosters out there, offering up a good deal of softer yet still dark music alongside their metal offerings. One of the more recent additions to this roster is singer/songwriter Ellereve, who pulls from a wide range of influences on her debut full length Reminiscence. Coming in somewhere between dark folk, 90s alternative, post rock, and even a little goth, the material moves between fragile, sparser instrumentation and powerful sweeping melodies. A few tracks may come and go without reaching peaks that get stuck in your head but give this one some time and you’ll find it has plenty of depth to offer.
“Gossamer Wings” kicks things off in a more ominous and foreboding fashion, utilizing sparser instrumentation alongside booming electronics that give off hints of the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack. It sets a darker and moodier tone that’s picked up on “In Infinite Light”, which lets a sorrowful guitar melody hang over the recording before opening up into a brighter tone around the halfway point. Early on Ellereve sounds like she’s walking similar ground as Emma Ruth Rundle, merging the sprawling nature of post rock with some more direct alternative rock hooks. But she reveals additional musical directions as Reminiscence continues, sometimes heading into electronic driven tracks that have a bit of a trip hop vibe while others channel a slew of 90s alternative singer/songwriters. When Ellereve nails this balance of fragile and powerful her songwriting comes alive, and tracks such as “Levitate” and “But Nowhere” have hooks that will get under your skin after a few times through. The latter even goes for some moodier dark/gothic folk that wouldn’t sound out of place on an album from Eisenwald labelmates Mosaic and finishes things off strong on the normal edition. There are admittedly some lulls, as a few of the other songs are a bit too even keeled and explore softer textures without truly reaching a peak that sticks with you. It’s not a huge issue, but makes it feel as though Ellereve still has room for a bit more growth to consistently deliver this dark vs. light approach. Also worth noting is the CD version comes with four bonus tracks, and they’re strong showings rather than throwaway extras. “Photographs” in particular takes a more aggressive, almost doomier slant at points, showcasing a different side of Reminiscence that’s appealing.
Ellereve’s singing utilizes the same approach as her instrumentation, moving from softer passages to ones that soar over the recording. She has a similar pitch to Emma Ruth Rundle, especially on songs like “In Infinite Light”, but I also hear a bit of earlier PJ Harvey and some other 90s classics at certain points that help to differentiate Reminiscence. What also works to the album’s advantage is the way the performance shakes things up regularly, sometimes heading into much more energetic rock territory rather than sticking with dark and brooding folk the entire way through. There’s a lot of confidence to the singing that makes for some powerful, haunting moments whether Ellereve is almost at a whisper or standing tall above the instrumentals. Sometimes it takes singer/songwriters a few albums to fully find their voice, but Reminiscence already sounds like this has happened.
It did take a few times through for Reminiscence to fully open up and reveal some of its finer details, but it’s really grown on me over time and has the substance to keep listeners coming back. Some of the more sprawling post rock or minimalist folk approaches don’t always fully hit the mark, but enough of them do to leave a lasting impression. It is worth noting that if this type of dark folk or post rock interests you the deluxe edition is a must, as the bonus tracks really add to the album. With a few tweaks and additional growth, expect to hear about Ellereve a lot more in the coming years as she’s on the verge of something truly stunning.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg