HEY! Get updates to this and the CD and 7" blogs via Twitter: @VinylUnderbite

5 May 2014

The Family Elan - 'Stare Of Dawn' (Locust Music)

The Family Elan is Chris Hladowski, Bradford-born multi-instrumentalist and member of various groups in Scotland in the last decade including Scatter and Nalle; this is a totally solo affair showcasing his immersion in Eastern acoustic instrumentation and it fits in well with a lot of the new wave of ethnic-flavoured underground folk forms that hit around this time (2007). The recording is close and bright, and on most of the six tracks Hladowski jams melodically on bouzouki or dulcimer or oud or something - it's not easy for this ear to discern the different tonalities, but there's percussion (maybe a drum or maybe just the side of the wooden instrument being tapped, plus bells and shakers) and a bit of singing and some flute and it's all just very very nice. But that's not to diminish it - when the repetitive, trance-like riffs break down, as they do at the end of 'Over The Hills and Fields I Wander', there's a bed of free sonority for all of these errant string plucks to dance around in. It's reminiscent of some of Vibracathedral Orchestra's (un)holy ruckus, though more rooted in a pastoral song structure. When Hladowski sings, as on the opening and closing cuts, his voice has a mellow, smoky tone that floats in between the strumming, plucking and bowing. The songs occasionally shift towards less stable territory, and violins scratch about an elusive centre; it's occasionally beautiful beyond belief, and while somehow feeling akin to a lot of other artists, nothing comes to mind so there's a unique vision as well.