Ex-Easter Island Head



The ever evolving Liverpool group Ex-Easter Island Head return with Norther, their first album in 8 years. As ever, the tracks are lab-honed instrumental pieces that follow an almost mathematical logic. The record itself is the product of many years of refining; with tweaks made to an equation that produces cosmic results.

When playing live the ensemble assemble like technicians over work tops, heads bent with glasses slipping down the nose. There isn’t a guitar strap or plectrum in sight, instead solid body guitars are placed face up on tables and are played percussively. The result is akin to a gamelan of shifting musical moods; glittering kosmische, drone and ambience all cohabit, and often in the same song.

New album opener ‘Weather’ starts lithe and glistening as zithers twinkle. A different narrative then emerges as a more sombre tone is ushered in. Ex-Easter Island Head excel in establishing bold musical structures and then allowing in subtle atmospheric shifts; on ‘Weather’ portent looms over the introductory score, recasting the original motif in doubt. This uncertainty further abounds towards the record’s finale as ‘Dark Bridges’ explores brooding corridors of sound.

Elsewhere the title track is a sparky hot rod of a tune that, like Anna Meredith, allows bombast to sidle up to experimentation. It’s the closest the band go from chin-stroking to headbanging and it’s fabulous. It’s the sound of the ensemble almost letting loose, with the tight formula of their rhythms being pushed to a frenzied breaking point. This ordered chaos also pushes ‘Magnetic Language’ forward. After beginning with a cool serenity that resembles Laraaji, keys imitating isolated vocal samples are introduced, they flutter and swoop ricocheting back and forth.

Norther is the name for a type of wind that blows in from the north: the bleeps and gurgles that play out ‘Magnetic Language’ are like the birds that glide on this air current. It’s yet another Eureka! moment from the lab.