Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls
Release Date: Feb 14th, 2012
Label: Karate Body Records
The music on Whistle Peak’s sophomore album, Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls, is opposite from the chillwave genre on the musical spectrum, but it still might be one of the most intelligently relaxed records I’ve heard in a long time. The songs mimic the album cover (shown above) of a boy and girl floating hand and hand down a clear river. Track after track, the melodies and calm vocals seem to glide into each other without worry until the arm of the record player resets and rests safely back in the start position.
This isn’t to say the record lacks emotion, creativity, or exploration. There is a sonic journey that takes place from start to finish, a creative thicket of momentary electronics, circling harmonies, and playful touches that the listener must travel through to reach the clearing which comes in the form of the album closer “The Laws,” a song which hits like a warm greeting and serves as a summary of the journey through the album.
The vocals on Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls really separate Whistle Peak from any standard name check of influences you can throw at the band. There is a slight southern accent that never compromises diction. Despite the slow drawl, every word is crystal clear. The result is a concentrated, relaxed set of vocals that drives the entire record. Two members switch off vocal duties, which is impressive considering the album's cohesive tone from start to finish. You’d practically never know it without checking the liner notes.
When this record spins, you’ll find little recording touches that will make your ears perk up. It has a lo-fi feel, but some of the instruments still pop through crystal clear, always juxtaposed by the hazy backdrops. I haven’t heard a record that sounds like this since earlier Half-Handed Cloud records. One might chalk it up to their use of a 1997 Gateway computer for the recording to result in such a bizarre but balanced final product.