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Chelou - “The Quiet” (2014) review


Chelou - The Quiet (The Weird & The Wonderful, 2014)

While this London based artist is still in his infancy, having only released a handful of singles and a couple EPs, his first release is an atypically talented hallmark of minimalist folk fused with electronic pop. Spanning only 4 songs, The Quiet, is consistently lo-fi in just the right way.

The title track depicts what I assume to be a man and his battered up guitar transformed into a textured scene complete the misshapen flares of a female vocalist trailing behind his words. Reverb scatters across high string fingerpicking, widening the spectrum of tonality. The mood is bittersweet, wishful, slow-moving, but not without ripe spirit.

‘Reverse (RV$$$$$E)’ takes the indietronica up a notch. A drumkit echoes over muted stringed instruments. Backwards guitar riffs fade in and out of awareness. As the vocals begin you are awash in synths acting as an angelic chorus—except this choir has stumbled into a soporific haze. Next you’re greeted with a folky duet and the twang of a poorly tuned guitar in ‘Concrete Dog.’ Slightly out of sync harmonies croak over strumming and a metronome left ticking.

The EP ends with a singer/songwriter-esque demo, ‘Like a Dream.’ Fingers sliding against strings and a hand beating the wooden back of an instrument are given the same level of attention as the soothingly unornamented vocals. Like any demo, the production is bare, but not without a satisfying choice of dissonance and an alluring coordination between percussion and a stream of delicate notes.

In just under 14 minutes we’re given more than a bit of sluggish confessionalism—the mix of sound augmentation and raw acoustics is an uncooperative balance many have attempted. Yet here it is done masterfully.

 - Gabe Kahan
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