Echo Us - To Wake A Dream In Moving Water album review

Ambient master explores Celtic grooves

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It’s twenty years since multi-instrumentalist Ethan J Matthews began making music with prog metal outfit Greyhaven. Wake…, Matthews’ fifth solo album in the guise of Echo Us, hones those years of experience and represents his most complete offering yet. Fans will find oodles of ambient goodness on tracks such as Awakening Current, and Matthews’ guitar virtuosity shimmers on May Morning Dew. However, it’s the exploration of Celtic themes which adds illuminating new dimensions to his work. Wake includes reworked traditional Irish and Breton tunes like Doina. The stand-out track, however, is new. At 14 minutes, From The Highlands is as epic as it’s beautiful. As Matthews’ sings ‘running from the violence’, he conjures misty valleys and snow-capped mountains without straying into cheesy nonsense. Admittedly, there are elements of Wake which may grate with some listeners. Two-part meditation Begin To Remember involves Matthews’ chanting the title repeatedly; for some this is mesmeric, for others distracting. Nonetheless, this LP is a significant achievement, combining influences from Fripp and Eno, Floyd, Oldfield and Ianaudi to make a distinctive whole.