Friday, November 23, 2012

Artist of the Day: El Ten Eleven

As you gear up for a hectic day of astonishingly good deals and busy-bee activity, remember to step back and take a breath. Black Friday is a busy day for many of us in the States, but if we get too caught up in bargain-hunting, we let a part of our imperialistic selves take control and forget the humanizing aspect of living - empathy, reflection, self-examination. Tough as it is, we all do it at some point, and to be honest, I find it much easier to think about while I'm listening to some great music. That's where El Ten Eleven comes in. They'll fit just about any situation too, they're lively enough to play in the early morning to get you awake, atmospheric enough to keep you thinking about their music, and they're wholly emotional, so that you can have all the thinking time you need while you go about your day.

The band started humbly; the two members met each other after a previous project together and produced their self-titled through Fake Record, though re-issued the release a year later through Bar/None Records in order to polish the record and attempt to get more renown for it. However, it was widely praised as it was; critics were impressed with the Sigur Ros / Tortoise / Calexico crossover band. It was, after all, a much different style than anything seen at the time; Sigur Ros was very deep and emotional, while Tortoise was almost too relaxed. El Ten Eleven struck the right amount of each, and was able to be emotional, but not too serious, and technical, but without overplaying post-rock to a point where it wouldn't be post-rock anymore.

The band then moved from their self-titled to Every Direction Is North in 2007, which took a slightly different take on things, but was written after a couple of years of experimenting. For the experimental band, I think it took a nice turn; I assume it was pretty easy for them to get attention on this album, having written the original soundtrack for Helvetica, also released that year, garnering a lot of interest around their musical activities. A year later, the band took a turn for the interesting. These Promises Are Being Videotaped was heavily experimental and took the band through a phase that I feel like they needed to go through. It wasn't my favorite album by far, but it helped them work through a lot of their experimental phase. They created a record they wanted to create, and that's important to be able to do as a musician.

From there, the band released It's Still Like A Secret in 2010, progressing forwards with their sound even further, featuring electronics much more prominently on a majority of their tracks, like the effects over "Marriage Is The New Going Steady," but were amply able to produce an organic sound on "The Sycophants Are Coming! The Sycophants Are Coming!" so that we still knew we had the band we knew and loved, which was a nice way for them to say "hey, we're making a bit of a sound transition, but we still want to keep the guys that have been sticking with us from the beginning, so thanks." The same sort of thing occurred on Transitions, the 2012 release. The band kept going with the electronics-involved style because it struck well with the current music scene, but also allowed them to experiment with different sounds while retaining the full usage of their instrumentation, leaving performance opportunities feeling more fulfilled and less artificial due to lack of member capacity in the band. Transitions was an interesting record, and appealed to the indie-pop community while still remaining true to the post-rock origins of the band.

As an experimental band, El Ten Eleven has changed many a thing about their sound. However, they've remained a driving force in the post-rock community, with their ability to keep up with what's current, and adapt it to fit a musical style that appeals to themselves, as well as a hard-to-please audience full of critical hipsters. It might be wishful thinking to hope for a return to their roots in old school post-rock fashion, but regardless, I'm interested to see what comes from the experimental duo next.

You can listen to just about everything El Ten Eleven has released on their Soundcloud page.

No comments:

Post a Comment