Posts Tagged ‘elkyn’

17th February 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s completely fitting that ‘something’, the new single from the Leeds-based artist elkyn is accompanied by a truly expansive video that slow-pans an immense landscape – a slow-panning view over a valley in the Lake District which touches me more than I’d have expected. But then, The Lakes is my happy place, a space away from the world and while the swinging pan shot is close to inducing motion sickness, it’s also a perfect accompaniment to this dreamiest of tunes.

The track follows up on last year’s single ‘if only it was alright now’, as well as the debut EP Beech. The song maybe but a mere two minutes and ten seconds of acoustic guitar, simple synths and basic drum machines, backing Joseph Donnelly’s hushed, introverted vocal musings, but it’s a world unto itself. And being drawn into that world is a breathtaking experience, and one that is far, far greater than the music alone.

The vocals are a soft wash that melt into the marshmallow instrumentation, meaning you focus more on the overall tone and atmosphere than the words themselves – words that according to the liner notes contain ‘a heart-felt personal confession of feeling hopeless and desperate.’ That’s certainly a relatable emotion, and, paired with the visuals, combines a certain tension and a sense of claustrophobia and entrapment with magnificent space and freedom.

The sensation is vague, the mood is intangible yet touching, and ultimately, elkyn has – again – delivered ‘something’ special.

Bad Paintings – 16th December 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s perhaps fitting that elkyn should wrap up the year with a Christmas single. Bleak as the year has been for so many, it’s been an interesting and evolutionary year for the shy and retiring Leeds-based artist, 22-year-old songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Donnelly.

2019 saw Donelley tour the UK with 60’s LA legends LOVE featuring Johnny Echols, as well as playing shows with Katie Malco, Rozi Plain, S.T. Manville, Molly Linen and Mark Peters. 2020 put a halt on touring, and pushed him back into quiet retreat, and it seems that creatively, it’s proven remarkably beneficial.

Transitioning from elk to elkyn following the release of his debut ‘beech’ EP, and after a spell of silence, he returned with a slew of new material that’s as breathtakingly delicate and understated as you could conceive, beginning with a beech remixes ep and the single ‘if only it was alright now’.

How does covering a Coldplay track sit in the scheme of things? After all, they do epitomise the mainstream preference for the blandest, most diluted, tepid, fare going, the musical equivalent of instant decaff.

With chiming bells and dulcimers and soft washes of synth, this rendition certainly sounds and feels like a Christmas single, but with softly picked acoustic guitar and Donelley’s quite distinctive vocals that are imbued with a sunny 60s pop vibe, it doesn’t feet like Coldplay either. With a bold drum rolling in like thunder and a cinematic production, it’s well executed and makes for a fitting bookend to an outstanding year for elkyn.

25th November 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Following what, at least to the outside world, appeared to be a fallow spell between the release of beech and its attendant remixes version, during which time elk became elkyn, Joseph Donnelly returns remarkably swiftly with a new single, ‘if only it was alright now’.

It’s a sentiment that’s so, so relatable right now as we find ourselves eddying along in a relentless tumult of who knows that the fuck. And in the space of just over three minutes, Donnelly captures and articulates all of the uncertainty and wraps it around with a warm, thick blanket of home and opens the window to let the light in.

It begins in what’s swiftly become trademark style, his quiet, introspective vocals almost a mumble, trepidatious, accompanied only by sparse, picked acoustic guitar. And it’s truly beautiful, in that most intimate, soul-searching of ways. But from here, things evolve as layers of textured sound build on one another, and at pace, and in no time, galloping drums are bounding along, pushing the song onwards, and it’s a rush – a clean, uplifting rush, like a warm breeze on a perfect summer’s day, where the clouds are just wisps, high in the upper reaches of the atmosphere.

Comparisons and references that spring up here and there, but to evoke them feels futile, and moreover to diminish the emotional and sonic richness of the work, which exists in its own self-made space, and completely apart from all external forces of influence and time, creating a brief but magical moment you wish could be frozen to last for all eternity.

2nd October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Back in July, elk impressed with the Beech EP, a magnificently understated work of haunting grace. The project of 22-year old Leeds based multi-instrumentalist Joey Donnelly, elk has now evolved into elkyn, which comes with certain connotations of what elvin is to elves, and is certainly easier to find on-line.

This first release under the new moniker features re-imaginings of the songs from beech by family and friends, including Miles. (brother Mikey), Mark Peters, S.T. Manville, Tim Wright, and others.

It’s not entirely surprising that the artists who’ve reshaped the songs have focused on their dreamy quality, and Mark Peters’ soft, soporific take on ‘yue’, which was aired in advance of the release is representative.

With the exception of ‘something’, which on this release is retitled as ‘here’ (which sounds like a Depeche Mode doing dreamwave), it’s the same songs in the same sequence, but such a very different record.

Although being twice the length of the original, ‘avenue’ is perhaps the least radically altered, at least in terms of the song itself between an extended intro and outro. Elsewhere, Miles. brings some stark synths and waves of ambience, not to mention sampled narrative to ‘Seventeen’, and it’s a radical transformation as the softly-picked acoustic song becomes a wistful dapple-shaded shoegazer, with Joe’s voice floating on a cloud above it all. Shed Seven’s Joe Johnson retains the brittle fragility of ‘winter’, and the last song, ‘stupid world’ sees Tim Wright introduce some grinding, wheezing organ drone and some stuttering to add more weight and tension to the cracked melancholic introspection.

What makes this release is just how sensitive and considered the reworkings are, completely transforming the songs – in very different ways – while preserving their essence and integrity.

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