Ten – East of the Elm
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Following on from 2010’s Lowlands, Leeds/London based Ten bring us East of the Elm. Carrying on in their varied yet cohesive way, their latest offering sees the line up extended to include string players, trumpet, vocals and Ten mainstays Dom Deane and Jonny Fryer on guitars and various other instruments.
We begin with the pulsing guitar of the title track. The texture rises and falls as various simple melodic lines and tremolo bowed strings are added throughout the piece, eventually dying away to leave a solo piano and scratchy field recording. The almost dream-pop aesthetic of the short but sweet ‘Heart Beat’ features the only vocal outing of the EP, courtesy of Lou Richards. It fits beautifully within the texture, being treated more like an instrument than anything else, and acts as a fitting precursor to the immersive strings that follow.
Accompanied by soft rainfall comes the plaintive cello melody and acoustic guitar of ‘Adrift’. The gentle ebb and flow of slide guitar, field recordings and processed strings provide a continuously varying texture to counterpoint the cello line, which weaves gracefully throughout the texture, ever so gradually building the tension before dying away. This is followed by the melodic piano and sparse cello and viola of ‘Paper Fragments’. Closing track ‘Little Tree, Big Heart’ provides a moving little melody, reminiscent of Sparklehorse or somesuch. Although this provides a contrast to the rest of the EP it fits perfectly and is still in-keeping with Ten’s sound.
In contrast to earlier works, Ten have clearly invested a lot more in the production values of East of the Elm, which in many ways works well, especially given the extended line up of this EP. However, the finessed production has lost a lot of the rawness of previous works which for me is part of their charm. Nonetheless this is a great EP and well worth checking out.
- Katie English for Fluid Radio