It’s finally time to sit down and listen to a new Eco album. It’s been quite a few years since his debut album M(you)sic on Armada, and upon hearing track one it is refreshing to hear he has not forgotten who he is at all. “Darkness in the Light” picks up right where past records left off, with guitar tones and swimming ambient textures directing the vibe, with a traditional drumline and some additional percussion to give keep the listener nodding. The guitar on these tracks is actually Eco himself, having spent time learning the instrument during the album’s composition.
One feature that’s interesting about this album is it’s seamless nature. The tracks move straight into each other without gaps. While that has definitely been done before in a dance album, it is done not nearly enough. That tends to be a theme present in the Jersey native’s music overall, and thoughts like that as well as the storm foley add a lot.
“Trust in the Wind” with Driftmoon is one of the few collaborations on the album, and a great place to start if you immediately want to understand the texture the artist is going for. It has pretty much each component that makes the album, in some capacity. Guitar stings lead in eighth note synth plucks, atmospheric swells, plenty of supplemental melodies, and a bit of modern trance flavor as well.
The one thing that may throw people off is the open format of the compositions. There are plenty of songs that fall closer to the experimental rock or ambient rock space than Trance music. This isn’t a hard rule — in fact, there are very few on the album — but it is worth noting if you walk into the album expecting tracks like “The Light in Your Eyes Went Out” or “Lost Angeles.” Most fans of these records will still find the heart and soul of them intact despite this. “River Song” furthers along this vein, including darker bass drones and hovering synths reminiscent of Dash Berlin’s 4am remixes. “Soar” delvers closer to a traditional progressive track as well, featuring a baseline stab pattern similar to classic Tiesto albums and a guitar chord motion similar to how trance chords might hit.
“Slow Rising Sun” is the first vocal track on the album, featuring Gordon Markovic. Her voice is very well chosen for the aesthetic being created. If I had to complain about this album, wanting morevocal tracks like this would probably be my choice. It even has the same chord progression of Blink 182’s “Adam’s Song,” a nostalgic yet bittersweet song from my childhood. It’s a running joke at Akashic Rift that practically every Trance artist was at some point a rock fan, and it rings particularly true here.
The seminal piece of the album, without question, is “Cloud” parts 1 & 2. Following off the pattern used in “Architectures” from Eco’s first album, the track is split into two variations. Part 1 features the lyrics prominently showcased with the Wolves album art we’ve been reading since the album’s announcement. Chris Severe does a great job performing them. They return again in Part 2, with a different feeling on the guitar. This version takes a bit more of an aggressive approach with rapid drumlines,
The album comes with a story to be read along, which I did not have access to listening in digital. It may explain the lack of talking points for [the first segment] the album, a typically common choice for the concept album. Eco mostly opts for backing sounds of wolves and thunderclouds, painting and overall feeling and letting the music tell the story.
Albums are becoming scarce in the trance genre (or space, however you want to slice this collection of music). Second albums are even scarcer. Eco definitively delivers a better album than his first, which alone puts him in a very select category of artists in the space. For that alone, I would consider this one of the only albums worth recommending as a full collection, over the cut of favorites. For 2016, there are few albums that contribute the same.
Review By: Tom Rogers
Eco’s album “Wolves” is out on October 14th 2016!
Stream / Download your digital copy here:
01. Eco – Darkness In The Light
02. Eco with Ariah Noetzel – The Rain
03. Eco with Driftmoon – Trust In The Wind
04. Eco – Dogs
05. Eco – River Song
06. Eco – Soar
07. Eco with Gordana Markovic – Slow Rising Sun
08. Eco with Chris Severe – Cloud (Part 1)
09. Eco with Chris Severe – Cloud (Part 2)
10. Eco – If I Survive (I’ll Worship The Moon)
11. Eco – No Ceilings
12. Eco – It’ll All Make Sense One Day
13. Eco – Wolves
14. Eco with Jennifer Rene – Running
15. Eco – The Lonely Soldier