The debut album from this Irish-Franco-German trio enchants the darker side of Berlin’s underbelly
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about Evvol that is so magical, but bewitching is probably a good word for it. Until recently recording under the not-very-good name Kool Thing, they’ve turned from indie electronica to a darker kind of European trance pop, creating sensual dreamscapes that leave you totally spellbound.
‘Eternalism’, the debut album from the Berlin-based Irish-Franco-German trio of Julie Chance, Jon Dark and live drummer Valentin Plessy, is permeated by a strange, unpredictable heartbeat that runs throughout the tracks, syncing briefly with your own before dissipating once again, recurring subtly beneath the dizzying synth effects. Plessy’s percussion is tight, but its live-ness contrasts beautifully with Chance’s ethereal vocals, which themselves gently float on the surface of Dark’s synths and guitars.
This is a haunting record. You wouldn’t be surprised to find it lurking just around the corner, half illuminated by some surreal neon sign, half in shadow. Little rustles of feedback, moans of reverb: there are ghosts in the machines. Slip on your headphones and turn up the volume to fully commune with the audio apparitions. The vaguely menacing ‘Starcrossed’, where Chance promises, “I’ll take care of you / And steal your heart”, is utterly seductive, with Dark’s synth textures and guitar lines building towards a towering conclusion. They can drag me to hell if it sounds like this on the way down.
A soundtrack for cybernetic werewolves, for vampires with retractable laser fangs, for witches with holographic familiars, performing spells illuminated by laptop screens rather than dripping candles, these tracks are incantations. The opener, ‘I See You (I Am You)’, with its hollow tribal drums and overlapping refrains, is a transformation ritual to be performed in a moonlit urban forest. Chance’s voice sounds like someone possessed, channeling a spirit from the concrete jungle. The enchantments continue with ‘Your Love’, a heart-hardening charm set to some initially bewildering instrumentation that becomes intensely mesmerising. By the time the song leads into the outrageously funky single ‘No Love’, you’re in a total Evvol trance, ready for their bacchanals.
There’s something cyclical about ‘Eternalism’, especially as it finishes with ‘Four Steps From Home’, which echoes the hyperventilating, hypnotic percussion of ‘I See You (I Am You)’. This too is a spell, but here it leads away from the crazed festivities of the earlier tracks. That’s not to say it isn’t awesome in the proper sense of the word, but it lifts you one final time before bringing you back down to earth, restoring your senses after the wild, ritualistic ride of the rest of the album.
Evvol themselves suggest their music is about dualities and extremes, and ‘Eternalism’ certainly conveys that feeling: light and dark, death and life, this world and some kind of electric spirit plane are all juxtaposed throughout the set. It’s an album of thresholds between these opposites, of precipices, of Nietzschean voids. Mostly, though, it’s an album about surrender. Give up and get in.