Title: Echo Echo
Release Date: 13th March 2020
Label: Caroline International / Universal
It is always difficult to review acoustic albums, even more difficult if the album doesn’t contain new tracks but acoustic versions of known songs only. But the most difficult is to review acoustic albums that are made by bands which are famous for their experimental electronic music. Everything of the mentioned is valid for the new album of IAMX named ‘Echo Echo’. IAMX is the solo project of Chris Corner, who was a member of SNEAKER PIMPS before, founded in 2004. His special ability to write music in between experimental sounds and popular structures, with an emotional drive in every single song, is crucial for the band’s massive success. So, let’s see what transition to acoustic versions does to the songs. One thing should be mentioned beforehand: This review can’t do without a comparison with the original versions.
The first song is the hit ‘I Come With Knives’. And at the first sight you will experience a completely new mood of the originally very excessive emotionality in this piece. It’s not easy to re-engage with the song, but after a few more turns are recommended to get into the new dreamy sound. Don’t expect the aggression to spread. But this is an acoustic album, with which artists are able to give a different perspective on their work. Art and music should be that free. ‘Kiss And Swallow’ takes up the original feeling much better. To be fair this track was better suited for an acoustic version anyway. Nevertheless, both first songs in their new outfits are catchy at the highest level and show the great talent of Chris Corner even to transform his masterpieces into new masterpieces.
Already being in a thoughtful mood, ‘Mercy’ surely gives you the rest. Just close your eyes and let it happen! Listen to the atmospheric message and let it happen! ‘Mercy’ is what everybody expects from an acoustic song. It easily lets you relax in your bedroom to reflect about the words, with relax is meant to be in a pondering way. ‘I Salute You Christopher’ even exaggerates this matter. The song develops on its long way of more than seven minutes. If you wonder why IAMX would release an acoustic album, ‘The Background Noise’ could be the answer. If you have listened to it once, you probably will be addicted. The original track is one of those songs that can drive you close tears if you intensively listen to its content. This acoustic version even exaggerates this feeling. What a perfect version!
‘You Can Be Happy’ is a pure ballad, slower played and sung than the previous songs, with its repeating claim that you can find small things to be happy about in this cruel world. Like a little mantra that could not explain this simple thing better. The acoustic version contributes to this compared to the original. ‘Bernadette’ was one of the band’s well-known singles and this version is on point as the rest of ‘Echo Echo’. Dreamy and still catchy it spreads the story on a high level, an absolute recommendation for the old fans. However, expect that it will take you some time to adapt to the alternative way that these version offers you. Another song that takes up the original mood is ‘Spit It Out’. After a long alternative intro, the track evolves to its best. Dramatically sung and very thrilling this piece is one of the highlights on ‘Echo Echo’.
‘Insomnia’ is the perfect title for the opposite of what an acoustic album usually is. But this song fits and is the next highlight on the album. ‘Insomnia’ literally contains a guitar, a lot of reverb and a nearly screamed drama. And the feeling doesn’t need anything more to work. Is it as personal as it seems or is Chris Corner singing isolated? You will have to find out for yourself. ‘The Power And The Glory’ again is the next slow and reduced song. It simmers away in more than nine minutes, but they are worth it. Corner has a story to be told, so please listen to him even if it takes some minutes more. You can be promised that the song has somewhat like an explosion at the end.
The last song is ‘Surrender’, one that finishes a great album as another and very last climax. This track also seems to be perfectly made for an acoustic version if you compare it to the original. This definitely gives you goose bumps and you will be careful to not get addicted to this one, too. So be recommended to listen to ‘Surrender’, but this applies to the record at all. An intensive hour and six minutes of ups and downs comes to an end and leaves the impression that ‘Echo Echo’ is a complete thing.
If you talk about IAMX you have to include a discussion about sound. Chris Corner is an exceptionally talented person, performer, singer and producer who always broadened the borders of what others thought would be absolute limits. ‘Echo Echo’ is no exception, the sound is a yardstick against which future acoustic albums must be measured. The songwriting and performance of the songs lack something in some places, but if you remember that these were transferred from already very good songs into acoustic versions, it is the best possible result. And as it always should be: Art and music is free. To be fair, you should know that this album was co-produced and recorded with David Bottrill, so it is not Chris Corner alone who created this masterpiece.
The time when the album has been released leaves a strange feeling: Does it make sense to listen to an acoustic album while you are isolated during the Corona quarantine? Time will tell and ‘Echo Echo’ may accidentally have a lot more listeners as expected. Too bad that there won’t be an acoustic tour sometime soon just because of the virus crisis, but IAMX have postponed the shows to a later date this year and you should take part then!
01. I Come With Knives - Acoustic
02. Kiss And Swallow - Acoustic
03. Mercy - Acoustic
04. I Salute You Christopher - Acoustic
05. The Background Noise - Acoustic
06. You Can Be Happy - Acoustic
07. Bernadette - Acoustic
08. Spit It Out - Acoustic
09. Insomnia - Acoustic
10. The Power And The Glory - Acoustic
11. Surrender - Acoustic
Chris Corner – Producer, Songwriter, Vocals, Keys, Percussion
Janine Gezang – Live only: Keys, Bass, Vocals
Sammi Doll – Live only: Keys, Vocals
Jon Siren – Live only: Drums
https://iamxmusic.com / https://www.facebook.com/IAMXOFFICIAL
Total: 9.3 / 10