Ministry of Love
Sep 13, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue
The debut album by Los Angeles-based duo IO Echo begins with a bombastic burst in the opening number "Shanghai Girls." It signals a confident presence and ambitious agenda by a band that's been saddled from the start with plenty of labels and expectations by critics and fans alike. Shaking off those labels, which include buzzwords like "dark," "murky," and "gothic," the band forges ahead with songs that are precise and synthetic but nevertheless elude falling into a formulaic rut of ho-hum electronic rock.
The band is ambitious and controlled in utilizing their instruments and mapping their beats, with the end result being songs that actually emanate warmth. "Draglove" is a great example. The duo is heavy on the reverb and treatments, but has the presence of mind to rein that in before their songs drown in effects. By bending melodies, delivering torrents of sound that burst forth with the suddenness of a fire hose, and adding just a dash of Eastern influence, IO Echo creates a thoroughly contemporary sound. True, one can detect faint ghosts of more than a couple of past music genres and bands, but the music is never haunted by them.
Admittedly, a moodiness certainly exists in many songs ("Stalemate") and can sometimes become overwhelming ("Aokagahara Forest"). But overall, any perceived grimness to the band is overshadowed by a sense of beauty and musical aesthetics that makes their songs as lovely and mesmerizing as a Swarovski crystal. (www.ioechomusic.com)
[UPDATE: Since running this review in our current print issue and posting it on the website, we've been informed that the release date for this album has been pushed back to 2013. When we went to press on the issue the album was still planned for its original September 11th release date. But IO Echo will release a new self-titled EP on October 16th, featuring some of the songs from Ministry of Love, along with others. Here's the tracklisting for that:
IO Echo: IO Echo EP (IAMSOUND)
01. Shanghai Girls
02. When The Lillies Die
03. Ministry of Love
04. Outsiders (Slow Version)
05. Carnation (featuring Jonny Piece of The Drums)]
Author rating: 7/10