Elsiane- Hybrid

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, August 31, 2008

Although trip hop has become an increasingly more popular genre in recent years (especially with the recent revival of fan favorite Portishead), this has only helped some of the newer and more talented bands to gain more exposure. Such is the case with Canada’s Elsiane, whose debut Hybrid is sure to gain them acclaim from many listeners far and wide. Offering a mix of slower trip hop and shimmering melodic landscapes along with the ever changing vocals of Elsieanne Caplette, this is one of the more noteworthy releases the genre has seen this year.

It seems nearly inevitable that Elsieanne Caplette will be compared to both Bjork and Portishead vocalist Beth Gibbons. Like Gibbons, her vocals pull listeners in and are very melodic and at times even seductive. But like Bjork, Caplette is able to manipulate her voice in ways that few singers can. She is able to distort her voice in ways that at times feel almost alien, giving the music a near otherworldly quality that fits well with the trip hop base. It may seem a little strange to be describing a singer’s vocals as melodic, seductive, and alien in the same sentence but that is exactly what the case is with Elsiane’s Hybrid.

The instrumentals on Hybrid are very slow paced and laid back, but stink the listener into their atmospheric melodies. While some tracks sound very much like traditional trip hop arrangements, there are plenty of moments throughout this album that showcase some jazzy and orchestral influences as well. So while the keyboards to take listeners through the traditional trip hop landscapes, there is also something more to be found here as well. It should be mentioned that the right mind set may be required for this release though, as Elsiane’s debut is laid back to the point where it will put a listener into a deep and relaxed state thanks to its melodic grooves.

Elsiane is a very exciting Canadian duo whose debut is one of my new favorites for its genre. It may be going up against the brand new Portishead this year, but this group offers enough differences for listeners to want to pick up both. Thanks to its very laid back melodies and subtle experimentation, this is a disc without a dull moment and is arguably one of the better acts in any genre to make its way out of Canada this year.


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