Ekca Liena is Daniel Mackenzie from Brighton in the UK and his new release ‘Slow Music for Rapid Eye Movement’ on Dead Pilot Records is actually a re-master of his highly successful sellout album of the same name released back in 2008. This reissue of 300 copies comes with a bonus CD of remixes by Clem Leek, Nick Hudson, Pupilar, Duncan Harrison, Kixotek and Aidan Baker.

Mackenzie’s influences are often cited to be a mix of Hecker, Eno, Stars of the Lid, Murcof and Global Communication, but while you may well  hear brief elements of all of these in his music Mackenzie has clearly carved his own path through the ambient/post rock/electronic jungle.

The canvas of sounds used on this album is large, even epic in places, with small brush strokes of soft electronic evolving pads and shimmering strings layered with quiet guitar melody and field recordings giving a dreamy undercoat; then a large slab of distorted noise, effects laden guitar or sequenced chattering splatters unexpected patterns over the top. This isn’t random abstract stuff though, you get a real sense of musicality, melody and masterful planning with each track merging effortlessly into the next. You get the distinct impression that Daniel Mackenzie’s brain must be a place of feverish musical activity with ideas tumbling out in this album at an astonishing rate. Even the longer single tracks feel like they are made up of multiple complete sub-tracks all linked together.  

It’s difficult to pick highlights here as the whole album works so well but I particularly liked the way the tribal rhythm took me by surprise on Reverse Erasing with its electronic pulse, delicate thumb-piano melody, hints of a humming voice – and was that Irish pipes at the end !? Then we have the fairy tale that is Missing Weeks opening with a gentle sigh of the wind in trees, developing into a midway roar of distortion before fading out on breathy bells and quiet electro pulses.

The remixes work perfectly as a counterpoint to the initial works with many straying into exciting new areas like Nick Hudson’s jazzy piano interpretation of Reverse Erasing with its airy panning tribal drums slowly crossfading into heavily distorted guitar strums and high-pitched monastic wailing before a guttural electronic chattering takes over to the fade. Contrast that with Clem Leek’s stunningly beautiful Missing Weeks remix with a magical soundscape of frosty bells and synth washes at the start which are transformed as a Berlin style chugging sequencer pulses into both ears on a wide pan, while bright choir pads sit dead centre in the mix and fade out.

This two CD album is a tour de force and not to be missed. A superb reissue then from Dead Pilot Records which comes highly recommended.

Ekca Liena – Slow Music for Rapid Eye Movement. Dead Pilot Records DPRCD05. Released April 11th 2011.  http://deadpilotrecordsstore.limitedpressing.com/products/7945

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