Daniel Westerlund is E GONE: explorer and shaman of the cosmic arts. As E GONE he released All The Suns Of The Earth, which in the opinion of colourhorizon was probably the album of 2014.
Before that, as The Goner he released a slew of top drawer albums such as Behold The New Traveller which gained the admiration of the Archdrude himself, Julian Cope.
E GONE’s music straddles post rock, drone, world music, ambient and primitive heathen folk. A spirit of adventure runs through his music as does a core of good old-fashioned song writing.
Now, hot on the heels of the SMOKEDIVER EP, here is the brand new album, Advice To Hill Walkers.
Get your pith hat on, get your sabre ready, put the kettle on, E GONE’s taking us on a trip…
‘Mark The Spot Where You Leave The Injured’. Under a death knell drone jinks a playful melody. Imps and goblins come out to play as the song lurches into a lob-sided gait.
‘Your Goal Is To Know Everything And Say Nothing’ starts the album properly with evil thoughts; harsh, twanging riff and back-of-the-woods banjo that brim with paranoia.
‘Follow Moonmilk Rivers’ stirs more rhythm in, learning from the Eastern sounds of SMOKEDIVER. Casbah boogie time. A heavy staccato bass stokes a heady psych groove. A myriad of sounds dart across your perception as your brain locks down. Free range trippiness.
‘Build Your Camp Out Of Alpine Moss’ is deep forest dwelling. Stark guitar stab, synth squeals, aggravatingly slow drones hum and the occasional glimmer of life form the drums. This is one of the many moments on the album which brings to mind a version ‘Poptones’ by Public Image which has been warped into soundtrack music.
‘Dwell In Tents By Day, Hike At Random By Night’ seems to be at the wrong speed, compounded with an eye-pokingly obvious tinny drum machine beat. Slight dub overtures lend to the oddity. The weirdness makes this track a highlight of the album.
‘Find New Methods For Compass Use’ returns to the ambient days of the Bitemarks EP. (Ludicrously you can get Bitemarks for free right here).
‘Bring Ice And Rope’ continues the hard fought uphill battle with sluggish bass painting a painful forced march. Images of William Friedkin’s film Sorcerer are evoked: death and mud intertwined.
‘Record The Humming Of Melodious Caves’ brings back the tribal beats. Curiously danceable (if you dig ketamine) and lashings of fidgety Eastern strings.
‘Continue Ascent While Blindfolded’ provides what appears to be a medieval re-imagining of the theme tune to 60s ghost / detective show Randall & Hopkirk.
Closing the album is the only epic to be found here, ‘Reach the Summit, Egg!’ Delving deep into drones and meditative states of mind this song uses everything that has come before and uses all the lessons learnt to provide an intense final push. As we are reaching the peak of the album it is only natural that sound breaks down, leaving us oxygen starved and muscle depleted. Yet we are enriched by the path we have taken and the sights we have seen.
There has been a clear trade-off from All The Suns Of The Earth. The wild mood swings have been smoothed out. While that album veered from the giddy ‘Hexx’ to the strident folk of ‘Traveller You Will Sing’ to the subconscious brain invading and mournful lament of ‘Hazel Motes At The Plastic Vortex’. There the genre hopping was more delineated. Here however, the lines are increasingly blurred. This sacrifices some of the unpredictability that made All The Suns Of The Earth so thrilling but in turn provides a more subtle blend. All the elements at play have now become fully assimilated. I would sum up by pointing out that the album is more sophisticated but less accessible. All The Suns Of The Earth should definitely be your first buy before coming here.
The album is totally instrumental. A shame as Westerlund has a strong voice that punches many emotional buttons. Similarly it is a concern that the more traditional singer-songerwriter aspects of his work appear to be receding into the distance. Songs like ‘Heaven Send Your Love’ and ‘A Song’ are an important part of his appeal so it is hoped we can hear him singing again soon.
As mentioned earlier with the ‘Poptones’ reference, Advice To Hill Walkers has the demeanour of PiL’s Metal Box gazed at through a circus hall of mirrors. The album is evil and brooding and yet rippled with subtle flavours of psych like the darkest of dark chocolate. There are temptations to call this slow motion post punk, especially considering the ceremonial bass underpinning the entire affair. There are hints of the decaying entropy of songs such as ‘Broke My Neck’ by the Bunnymen and ‘Kilimanjaro’ by The Teardrop Explodes, maybe even the second half of Bowie’s Low. From contemporary music we could view this as being the dark reflection of The Woken Trees Nnon.
Advice To Hill Walkers… dancing in the halls in the dead.
Advice To Hill Walkers on Bandcamp
All The Suns Of The Earth or for swanky vinyl (2014)
Albums as The Goner: HH and Behold A New Traveller are available here