"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 an American music-project founded by Ethan Matthews in 2000.
Echo Us is a musical concept project
active since the turn of the century. Begun by American composer and
multi-instrumentalist Ethan Matthews, “Echo Us” literally
means “to answer”, or “to connect”. The current
format of the project began in a psychiatric ward 2001. There Matthews
experienced the first of a series of consciousness-shifts that drove
the project forward in the following years.
The beginnings of Echo Us itself go all
the way back to August of 2000 when Ethan’s first group, Greyhaven
split. Greyhaven had released one full-length album in Germany that
had put his music on the map internationally. Greyhaven was known for
their inventive combination of progressive rock and metal with berlin-school
electronic music. The band was revered and featured across Europe, and
gained a strong following in Germany particularly.
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 recording
the lyrical material. ‘Spiritualist’ phenomena has at times completely
surrounded the recording process, with 2012’s Tomorrow Will Tell The
Story being the most poignant example. Tomorrow Will Tell The Story won an
Independent Music Award and featured the vocals of GRAMMY-nominated singer-songwriter
Henta, as well as a canticle sung by hermeticist Rawn Clark. Echo Us music
is both about pattern recognition and intuition, and there are few stylistic
Biography of Ethan Matthews and Echo Us:
First appearing in Boston, MA as a musical
duo issuing two initial EP’s, Echo Us united the synth/wave music of
the era with a strong pop sensibility. Echo Us creator Ethan Matthews had
issued one prior release and early demos with his original group of high school
friends entitled “Greyhaven”, which became known as a groundbreaking
but often misunderstood jewel within the underground progressive music world
of the late 1990s.
Echo Us’ first full-length release
in 2005 was penned and produced entirely by Matthews alone after the original
band had split in 2001. 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
Echo Us, which to Matthews means “to answer”, or “to connect”
grew to encompass elements of ambient, electronic, classical and various ethnic
styles, resulting in a trilogy of albums released from 2009-2014. The second
album in the trilogy, Tomorrow Will Tell the Story was nominated and won an
Independent Music Award. It featured the vocals of Grammy-Nominated songwriter
Henta, woven around lush, atmospheric landscapes generated from field recordings
and samples created by Matthews, as well as various chants and meditations.
The main meditation was recited by Rawn Clark, a mystic practicing the work
and teachings of hermeticist Franz Bardon. With the album came comments towards
its obvious religious overtones, and when questioned on the subject Matthews
pointed out its non- denominational intention. Also with the album came a
small flurry of video material that led to its successor, II:XII, A Priori
Memoriae in 2014. A Priori is often cited as Matthew’s most ‘classically’
progressive work alongside the Greyhaven album. It featured constant evolving
arrangements as well as live classical musicians and a similar but evolved
atmospheric sound design to its younger cousins. Again the vocals of Henta
were heard on the video single “Nightlight”. Echo Us recordings
have been noted for their ‘seamless’ quality in that the entire
album flows from track to track as one piece of music, or ‘movements’.
Ethan Matthews came from an extended musical family and began piano studies
at age 7. His father was a music educator and held a Doctorate of Musical
Arts (DMA) in classical saxophone performance. In his teens Ethan taught himself
guitar and moved into working with electronic instruments, recording extended
cassette-tape demos, which in turn led to Greyhaven. Instead of spending time
with peers, Ethan walled himself off in a secondary room in his father’s
garage during his teens. This intense but still early musical activity, a
response to extreme depressive states and anxiety bore resemblance to the
early years of older, vaunted ‘progressive’ rock artists like
Mike Oldfield, as well as musical recluses like Kate Bush and Michael Cretu.
It’s no surprise that these musical comparisons often come to the forefront
when his work receives media attention, as well as in their reference to early
life experiences that drove him to music as a refuge and escape from daily
life in childhood. Also often mentioned in reference to his body of work is
the influence of 1970s ‘krautrock’ and Berlin-school electronic
music such as Tangerine Dream. Greyhaven’s sound was built around a
single synthesizer (the Korg Wavestation) in which Matthew’s created
repeating patterns that locked to the band’s odd-time signature passages
and metallic guitar sound. Greyhaven was noted for driving innovation in progressive
rock and achieving a certain success as a young band. All this was cut very
short due to the formation of Echo Us in 2000.
|“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].
Although firmly planted in the world of popular and rock music, Echo Us features
strong dynamics and a far-reaching sense of development closer to classical
forms. This combination of depth and probing complexity push the music into
new territories while at the same time retaining a strong sense of innocent
romanticism, urgency, and beauty throughout.