The music of Eluvium is the process of being gradually enveloped in sound. It’s the audio equivalent of quicksand, though much more seductive, as Eluvium has the unique ability to make being overwhelmed a pleasurable, welcome – even a triumphant experience. You may sink, but your fist will be above your head as you go under. He creates density by stealth, slowly building warm melodic tones, often with repetitive synthesis operating as a counterpoint, until we’ve reached a searing post rock finale. At times it’s hard to know if he’s a noise artist or an ambient musician, though his warm, soothing tones position him as the latter, albeit one with a firm grasp on dynamics and a willingness to embrace a degree of volume and intensity to arrive at his final destination.
His sounds are in the main ill defined, building together and attaching to each other like barnacles creating a warm soup of sound that screams for the use of headphones. There are organs, possibly some modular synthesis, and on this album vocal chorals that he clips and uses at opportune moments across False Readings On to create these achingly beautiful moments of intense melancholia. Because that’s the most important element of Eluvium: He is incredibly adept at eliciting emotion. It’s impossible not to be moved by his music. In fact it’s almost like the absence of clear instrumentation and a signposted trajectory allows him to tap straight into the emotions with the immediacy of cinematic sound design. And more often than not that emotion is a kind of weary sadness.
Whilst the album is filled with slow building emotionally wrought monsters, I’ve found myself drawn to the track ‘Movie Night Revisited’, which takes on a stately almost modern classical feel, with distinct parts that refuse to mesh. It’s possibly one of his most subtle pieces, where he experiments with structure, providing space and silence initially before being transported away in a sequenced modular wave. There are no crescendos, no emotional epiphanies, rather it is just a truly beautiful sound world to inhabit for a time – the melancholy actually comes from the song ending and being forced to move on. In fact that’s true of the album as a whole. The worst thing about it is that eventually you have to stop listening.