Wednesday, March 20, 2013
EP Review :: Mt. Wolf :: Hypolight
Hypolight (Two Sisters Records)
April 8 2013
Words: David Beech
In a year in which both electro and folk have dominated radio airwaves, it was only a matter of time before someone fused the two together. Enter South London-based quartet, Mt. Wolf and their eclectic blend of quaint folk, ambient atmospherics and moody bass. Their début EP entitled 'Life Size Ghosts' was met with favourable reviews, earning them comparisons to likes of Alt-J and The XX. Now with their sophomore EP 'Hypolight', the band look set to uphold the same positive praise that they found with their début.
The record opens with titular track 'Hypolight', which sets the standard exceptionally high for the rest of the EP. A delicate and subdued acoustic guitar coupled with an understated percussion section forms the backbone of the song while singer Kate Sproule's vocals really flesh the rest of the track out. Dreamy and ethereal, they paint pictures across an ambient canvas that swells and swoons in all the right places. An instrumental 'breakdown' towards the end of the track shows that the band are more than just backing for Sproule, and they themselves create the backdrop on which the vocals can decorate.
The second track 'Veins' is somewhat darker than it's predecessor, with some excellent percussion in the form of tight kick drums adding to the overall timbre of the song brilliantly. Once again Sproule's vocal part is mesmerising, in no small part to the range her voice is capable. At times she sounds like Ellie Goulding, at others, like a darker Florence Welch. There's a texture in her voice that's hard to put your finger on, but every song benefits from it hugely.
'Shapeshift' is the third and final (original) track on 'Hypolight' and sees the overall aesthetic of the EP get evermore darker; more broody. A moody synth bubbles underneath an equally dark veneer, and the even more impressive percussion that it's coupled with really drives the track forward. Here, Sproule sounds especially like Welch, circa 'Ceremonials'. The last quarter of the song develops in to a fantastically uplifting affair with some excellent string work juxtaposed against the perpetuated rumbling bassline.
The last track is an almost unrecognisable version of Usher's 'Climax'. Like the rest of the album before it, this track features gentle instrumentation which seems poised on the verge of crescendo throughout the whole track, but is never tipped over the edge. Again, Sproule's vocals are incredible; at times barely nothing but a whisper before surprising you with a sudden surge of power and raw emotion.
Even though it's just four tracks long, 'Hypolight' is a fantastic foray in to a world of ambient aesthetic: dark and brooding basslines and ephemeral vocals that shine and shimmer above the dark instrumentation. The talent behind these recordings is evident, as is the passion and the emotion that went in to making the EP. During the course of the record the perpetual moodiness of the bassline is almost tangible, but Sproule's vocals will pick you up and lift your spirits before you can even register the underlying melancholy that proceeds the more optimistic sections. This is an EP that everyone should listen to, no matter what your music tastes. It's not quite folk, it's not quite electro, it's not quite ambient. What it is, is a swirling dichotomy of feather light melodies and deep foreboding bass that will depress and uplift in a matter of minutes. Perfect.