Ecco is a record made for a children’s lecture on dolphins and the sea, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about. One can certainly find those themes in the music if one looks for them: there’s a subaqueous vibe to the sound for sure, its tones muted and dampened as water tends to do; there’s a suggestion of depth and isolation from the familiarity of air, but that’s not quite what I hear.
Ecco isn’t water for me, it’s glass. Rather than imagine a world beneath the surface of the waves, I imagine one from behind the surface of a pane, a physical barrier to the outside and yet one that allows us to continue to look at the events unfolding beyond it. Walls and roofs, they provide shelter and security and are undeniably important, but glass does something just as crucial once we’re inside: it provides a portal to the space outside of our homes and offices, a hole with which to glimpse just a part of the world we have to remind ourselves we’re part of sometimes, traced in yearning drone.
Windows are a place of safety and comfort, chances to watch the world go by for the times when we’re not able or willing to be part of it. When I was younger I used to sit on the windowsill at home on rainy days and watch the sky fall on suburbia, tracing raindrops down the frames and marvel at the water gushing from the gutter. And despite the buffer, one can still feel the force of nature behind it when the wind pummels and the rain drums; you can hold your hand to its cool plane and know the strength beyond it, as one can feel the bass rumbles quake periodically through Ecco’s somnolent core.
The smeared, dreamy synth drones of this record ebb and flow with the same isolated quietude you can feel just watching everything go by, each delicate movement drifting languidly one into the next in a succession of barely experienced events seen with half-opened eyes. One could be forgiven for thinking this record melancholy, but that wouldn’t be fair; blue perhaps, lonely quite possibly, but in the final 5 minutes where the gossamer strands turn to twilight I feel nothing more than a sense of delicate thankfulness for our transparent protector.