"I certainly believe in going
within to find a connection with the outer world. To find the 'child' within
where everything is open to speculation and wonder...it's a sort of 'psychic'
connection for me, and music is simply part of the process."
Us is a musical concept project active since the turn of the century.
Begun by American composer and multi-instrumentalist Ethan J. Matthews,
“Echo Us” literally means “to answer”, or “to
connect”. The current format of the project began in a psychiatric
ward 2001. Over the course of two weeks, and throughout the two years
following his commitment in the ward Matthews experienced a series of
consciousness-shifts that drove Echo Us forward from then on. Echo Us
would become a vehicle for Matthew’s forays into the world of
metaphysics, as much as it was a continuation of his musical and creative
world that had begun a decade earlier.
Matthew’s calls his
unique approach to composition “musical channeling”. Echo Us music
is often written in trance states with automatic writing as the primary technique
for capturing the material. ‘Spiritualist’ phenomena has at times
completely surrounded the recording process, with 2012’s Tomorrow Will
Tell The Story being the most lucid example. Tomorrow Will Tell The Story
won an Independent Music Award and 2014’s II:XII, A Priori Memoriae
completed a three-album trilogy describing consciousness raising itself through
three concurrent levels. Echo Us music is both about pattern recognition and
intuition, and features few stylistic boundaries.
Biography of Ethan Matthews, greyhaven and echo us:
The beginnings of Echo Us trace itself
directly to the breakup of his first group, Greyhaven. Greyhaven had released
one full-length album in Germany that had put his music on the map internationally
in 1999-2000. Greyhaven was known for their inventive combination of progressive
rock and metal with Berlin-school electronic music. Greyhaven fused heavy
metal with new age and ambient music, and was cited by fans and critics as
essentially being the first “new age progressive metal band”.
Matthew’s was responsible for the majority of the compositions and acted
as producer for the album.
Lyricism was a later development in
Ethan’s creativity, and came to the forefront in Echo Us. Talking in
an interview in 2000 with Rock Hard Magazine about Greyhaven:
“It is an attempt to create a
kind of personal rest place, a place to which one can simply withdraw from
everything, where one is completely satisfied with itself, content to be alone.
This song somehow brings it all together, all the issues explored in the rest
of the lyrics and music. People often react stronger to it- It obviously opens
the eyes of many- And I think people might think it’s this dark, melancholy
thing and they relate to it that way- but really, it’s a satisfaction
and contentedness. This is how I often feel and why I will pull away from
the world when I need to”.
[NOTE: the quote above is translated
from German; it is in reference to the title track from Greyhaven’s
debut. The quote comes from a highly-charged interview given by Matthews about
his peculiar circumstances of being an ‘outcast’ when growing
up. Greyhaven’s debut was often thought of as a concept album about
a character thrown out of society, with no family or friendly ties remaining.]
Echo Us was formed from the ashes of Greyhaven, but initially barred little
resemblance to it. ‘Echo Us’ was formed initially with Greyhaven’s
live keyboardist, Matthew Cahoon. The duo released two EPs, one in Sept 2000,
and one in January 2001 and quickly formed a live band that played shows around
Boston, MA throughout much of 2001. During late 2001 Ethan experienced a mental
and emotional breakdown and turmoil that brought a quick end to this early
incarnation of the group. Culminating with a stay in Boston Mass General’s
mental ward, the entire focus of life changed. This experience ushered in
a new kind of musical dynamic and ethos that would define the development
of his music from that time on. Life was simply, never really the same after
The next few years were spent formulating what his music would become. The
output culminated in the release of the first full-length Echo Us album in
2005. The recording process left much to be desired by Matthews, as he seemed
to be constantly moving during the debut’s production process. What
came forth was an album that connected more with dark electronics / ambient
music and the gothic subculture more than it did progressive rock.
Echo Us’ first full-length release in 2005 was penned and produced entirely
by Matthews. Inspired by a stay in a psychiatric hospital and the circumstances
that grew out Matthew’s life from then on, he often described Echo Us
as a ‘sequence of essences’, or as an ‘entity of consciousness’
because much of its material was composed in various trance states and didn’t
seem to fit into the rest of his prior musical background.
From 2000-2001 Cahoon and Matthews had
recorded and played a style of music that was closer to pop music than anything
Ethan has been involved with then or since, and the ‘echoes’ of
that experience are certain present on Echo Us’ 2005 debut. The album
also formed a bridge for Matthew’s back to more exploratory music at
the same time.
“Much of that album was certainly
drug-induced”, Matthews has admitted. “It was where I was at the
time. I was not in top form, but I was regaining my ground, learning new things
and flirting with ideas that sometimes related as much to the ethos of 60s
psychedelia as it did modern pop or progressive music”. The album failed
to enhance Matthew’s sales or musical reputation, and much of the following
that had been paying attention to the work of Greyhaven were simply not interested
in this new direction. Echo Us’ most ambitious and refined works were
Echo Us’ “Trilogy memoriam” ran from 2009’s The Tide
Decides through 2014’s II:XII, A Priori Memoriae. The trilogy began
with a story encompassing the life of one human being and the life of the
earth running concurrently as if they happened at the same time and speed.
Tomorrow Will Tell the Story cataloged a journey into a ‘purgatory’
where opposites no longer exist. II:XII, A Priori Memoriae was cited as being
a musical interpretation of the book and film “What Dreams May Come”.
A Priori Memoriae brought the trilogy to a close by describing the final phase
of a hypothesized afterlife.
During the years 2009-2013 a 5th album, called Inland Empire was also worked
on in fits and starts, most notably during 2013 when completing A Priori Memoriae.
Inland Empire featured songs from all three albums in the trilogy. The album
was similar in style to Tomorrow Will Tell The Story, was completely finished,
but was never released. After playing live shows in 2014/2015 and taking much
of the latter half of 2015 into 2016 off from music, Ethan began 2017 by recording
his “Echo Us Celtic album” called “To Wake a Dream in Moving
Water”. The album was completed in about 6 months, the shortest production
timespan of any of the Echo Us albums. The album draws from Ethan’s
past in ambient music. The notable “Aeriel / Satre Dance” originally
released in the UK in 1998 is the first reworking of any of Matthew’s
compositions to ever see release. It is also the first Echo Us album to directly
feature traditional folk music, both Irish and Breton, married with his background
in ambient music.
Ethan Matthew’s personal bio (childhood / upbringing):
Ethan Matthews came from a musical family residing in the Pacific Northwest
of the United States. From the age of 8 he was recognized as “having
music in him” by his piano teacher. His father held a DMA in saxophone
performance and taught school. Early on Ethan was exposed to everything from
classical woodwind ensembles to all kinds of popular music. Although encouraged
with his piano studies, he was not typically ‘moved’ by music
in the way he saw others were. It took quite a number of years to completely
understand the emotion of music, aside from the technical aspects he’d
developed at a young age.
At the same time, and in hindsight, Ethan was an ‘intuitive’ and
spent much time in creative states, especially in his early years. Later on
he would learn to apply some of these purely ‘psychic’ or clairvoyant-like
states to music creation. Lucid dreaming, out of body experiences, and other
phenomena followed Ethan from his earliest years to adulthood. Although once
an ardent reader and study of Jane Robert’s work, The Seth Material,
Ethan doesn’t follow any particular philosophical or religious teachings.
The spiritual aspects of this in relation to music and creativity is discussed
in various interviews,from 2000 to the present, particularly in relation to
the album Tomorrow Will Tell the Story.
Musically while in his teens Ethan taught
himself guitar and moved into working with electronic instruments while recording
extended cassette-tape demos. These early recordings led to the founding of
his first group, Greyhaven. Matthew’s taught himself audio engineering
during this period (a study he continued later on), even going so far as fixing
his broken 4 track recorder when it died from overuse.Instead of spending
time with peers Ethan walled himself off in a secondary room in his father’s
garage. This intense but still early musical activity was a response to extreme
depressive states and anxiety experienced by Matthews on and off for about
In 1995 Matthews received a district
trade that allowed him to leave private school in Eugene, OR. Towards the
end of high school, he formed a group by happenstance with a couple of new
acquaintances from school, Nate Howard and Nicolas Cipriano. The group called
themselves and the recordings ‘Greyhaven’ and a demo EP moved
with quick interest through the developing underground progressive music resurgence
of the late 90’s.
In 1998 Greyhaven added Brian Francis on vocals. Brian brought his classical
tenor training and background to the group and recorded vocals on the 2000
debut. Brian also wrote music with Ethan from 1999-2000 which culminated in
about 70 minutes worth of material that was never released. The material for
Greyhaven’s second album is fully archived as of 2017 by Cipriano. Nick
was Greyhaven’s audio engineer as well as drummer, and went on to become
a sought-after NYC music producer and engineer, working for Beatstreet Studios
and numerous others.
|“I can feel almost instantly
when something that is coming out of me will be Echo Us music, it engulfs
me in its undeniable conscious-thought-patterns, which are very different
than other projects I completed before. These days it is the only music
I pursue; it gives a powerful enough draw to make me absolutely act on
impulse- that impulse is my most favorite feeling in the world. That,
is to me – Echo Us music” [Matthews; 2016].
Ethan Matthews continues to live the
busy-but-quiet life just outside of Portland, OR. He is very emphatic that
such opposing combinations of circumstances are possible, just as they are