[sic] Magazine

Ekca Liena: Slow Music for Rapid Eye Movement

Dead Pilot Records
Reviewed by: M Henaghan

bq. “Ambient Music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular, it must be ignorable as it is interesting” (Brian Eno)

An ambitious debut full-length courtesy of young Brighton-based musician Daniel W J Mackenzie, whose Ekca Liena project takes a deep plunge into the murky waters of cinematic Ambient, Drone and Post-Rock, only to successfully emerge with something he can rightly call his own.

Dead Pilot Records, his label, have afforded him a Mogwai meets Stars of the Lid tag and you can see where they are coming from on compositions such as ‘We Are Dying Flames’ which combines the intense, all-consuming ferocity of the former with the hypnotic tranquility of the latter, utilising both of these factors to fashion a piece of music that may alter your perception of the word epic.

Though this is very much a one-man project Mackenzie, using varying programming and sequencing techniques in tandem with guitar, piano and synth, reaches some remarkable heights. Positions that many other artists spend their entire musical existences trying to fulfill. ‘Further Longer’, which clocks in at a gargantuan 18 minutes, is a good case in point. This piece is a whole musical movement in itself, shifting from shimmering guitar reverberations before literally crawling inside your head, until its monolithic synth sound has spread like a virus and seems about to take over your central nervous system (headphones highly recommended for this track!)

This record will undoubtedly hit fans of Ambient soundscaping where they live. Veering light years away from the bland supermarket variety, favoured by many, that tends to blight this genre, Mackenzie creates several heart-stopping moments throughout this nine-track record.

‘Reverse Erasing’ sends shivers cascading like a waterfall down your spine with its superb, Oriental chiming and staggered tick-tocking production, stretching synthetic orchestration around constantly shifting and popping plumes of melodic colour. ‘Fire Emerging from the Mist’ spends several minutes developing a smoldering, claustrophobic atmosphere before hitting you with a ten-tonne guitar riff, completely unexpected and undeniably brilliant. ‘Missing Weeks’, on the other hand, runs like an electronic lullaby, comforting those who listen in a cocoon of rich, sanguine sound.

Now read the quote at the top of this review; Mackenzie has understood the Enochian principles of Ambient Music perfectly, there are so many different sounds bursting from this quite fantastic record, that it almost goads you into playing it time after time. Occasionally, ambition outweighs the execution, but give me the former first any day. Execution can be taught, scope of ambition comes naturally and it flows through this album like a river. Like Tim Hecker without all the glitch, Fennesz without the self-indulgence or a Stars of the Lid without the pressure expectation, ‘Slow Music…’ is a must have for any self-respecting fan of Ambient soundscaping. Ekca Liena may be at the start of its musical trajectory, but this album will seriously take some beating.