To me, there are three main ingredients for good downtempo electronica: an evocative melody line; sharp, looping beats; and female vocals. The debut CD from Eccotonic, Flow Motion, has all three.
Eccotonic is the vision of LA-based film composer and recording artist Cato. In the last few years, Cato has scored films such as Smokin Aces, as well as dozens of commercials. This unique background gives Eccotonic’s work a different twist on the downtempo genre. The songs are not soundtracks for anything in particular, but they do give a sense of what Cato’s soundtrack work is all about, expanding the boundaries of electronic music through an intuitive use of space and form.
In places, the CD flirts with ambient, with a sparse beat here and there to draw the music together. But in others, like the track “A Beautiful Thing”, the addition of vocals grounds the music firmly in the chillout lounge. The vocals are from Jenny Campmany, a singer-songwriter and frequent collaborator with Cato. Other standout tracks include “Red Will be Missed”, “Game Thing”, and the title track.
This is music for early mornings and late nights, for the office or for introspection. In other words, it’s archetypical downtempo/lounge, albeit with a slightly mellower feel than say Mono or some of Tracey Thorn’s work. The pastoral electronics on the CD are compressed, stretched, distorted, and squeezed, bringing out an unusual lushness in the music without veering into new age boredom. The beats are nicely interspersed; they don’t jar the listener from settling into the melody.
In short, this is a CD for fans of downtempo and ambient electronica. For people into music to keep you moving or speeding along the interstate after work, this is probably not an ideal accompaniment.