Track x Track: Echo Omen - 'Belonging'
Great Southern W.A. singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist takes us through his gorgeous sophomore album of soulful, atmospheric & organic compositions, track by track
Image credit: Supplied
Following on from his awesome recent single Seduced By My Shadow feat. Dan Gunn (that Pilerats premiered ahead of release a few months ago), Denmark, W.A.’s Echo Omen returns with his second full-length record Belonging.
Picking up where his first album New Moon, Ancient Eye left off, Belonging is an entrancing blend of soulful acoustic folk, atmospheric electronics and hip hop - both beats and rhymes - alongside a heavier emphasis on collaboration, with more than half the tracks featuring guest performers.
Further refining his methods and techniques, Belonging saw Matthew Bracknell AKA Echo Omen creating a new song from start to finish each month of the year, following the new moon cycle. Drawing on the experience of crafting his first album this way, this time Bracknell looked to switch things up by inviting a larger number of collaborators into the studio, resulting in a richer pool of ideas and more diverse sound palette.
Belonging also features a heavy visual component, with its cover art the image of an actual piece of stained glass created by artist Hazel Mandala. Each track on the album also features its own cover art, as well as a different music video having been made for each and everyone of the twelve songs that make up Belonging.
To celebrate the album’s release, Echo Omen was kind enough to tell us the story behind each cut on the record - have a listen and get to know!
Dusk (January 21 New Moon)
I wrote Dusk at South Beach in Fremantle while enjoying some solitude during sunset. I often am baffled when everyone leaves straight after the sun has passed beyond the horizon because I feel the colours reach their peak about 45 minutes after the sun has left. This song is an ode to that moment.
Snore Me To Slumber (February 20 New Moon)
My best friend/dog Echo died. It was a beautiful and peaceful death and I wrote this song as she was passing. I respectfully recorded her heavy breathing which became the rhythm of the song and I invited my family (their first time recording in the studio) to improvise into the microphone. My Dad features at the end of the track and it touches my heart every time I listen.
Vast Fast (March 21 New Moon)
Growing up in the bush means that I can find being in a city challenging. The persistent fast pace, the sea of strangers, the seductive bombardment of advertisements and cobwebs of information is overwhelming. I wrote this song in the thick of a yearning to head home.
Death Gracefully Sitting In The Corner (April 20 New Moon)
I wrote this song inside the Albany Hospice. My partner and I were visiting her dying Great Uncle, and as the family shared conversation, I strummed away in the background. Death was present in the room and I really wanted to portray the gentle and graceful nature of the presence that I could feel. Later, once the song was recorded, I invited my friend Wren to improvise some vocals over the track. As you can hear, her vocals really transformed the song.
Normality Wreck (May 19 New Moon)
I would liken this track to a Banksia tree, very slow growing and beautiful in all the phases of growth. I guess this moment would be the bloom! When I picked up the guitar and this song reluctantly started to emerge, I was living in Hamilton Hill up to my waist in the quicksand of addiction. This track is an example of art as therapy. I was struggling to pull through the emotions of a traumatic experience and as I plucked the guitar and sang my lyrical discord and confusion, I began to make meaning. Through the creative process I brought harmony to the trauma and was able to separate the story from reality.
Squatting In A Dream feat. Aimee Vandersteen (June 18 New Moon)
I had the privilege of staying a couple of nights within my dear friend Aimee Vandersteen’s art studio near Margaret River. The place was potent with creative inspiration and once I grabbed the guitar sitting in the corner of the room, this song effortlessly emerged. I later invited Aimee to record a rap verse, which was total new terrain for her and she nailed it! Such a natural.
Dappled Shade (July 17 New Moon)
I wrote this song under the shade of a huge Eucalyptus tree as my daughter slept beside me. We had spent a couple of weeks up at Gnaraloo surfing and diving with friends. The trip was a great adventure but I felt constantly exposed amongst the small desert scrubland. When we started travelling back home I felt a huge relief wash over me as the tall tree canopy returned and I could shelter from the midday sun beneath the dappled shade. I later invited my friend Marie to play violin in the song. She improvises the whole way through and really captured the emotion of the piece.
Winter Hibernation feat. David Rastrick (August 16 New Moon)
I had a full day in the studio, no-one was home, no work, no responsibilities and it was raining heavily outside. It's been years since this sort of space has opened up! I decided that I would lock myself in the studio and finish a whole new song from scratch. I had two ideas...
1. To venture into the genre of Drum & Bass.
2. To create spacious verses for local Great Southern legend David Rastrick to collaborate on.
I'm stoked with what emerged.
Bosom feat. Ben Danks (September 15 New Moon)
I started writing and composing this track when my daughter was still being breastfed. I was in absolute awe of her relationship to the boob. She could change from a wild screaming creature of the night, to the calmest, cutest little baby in an instant, all by the power of Mum’s breast. In the song I lyrically follow curiosity and explore my own relationship to the breast and how it has changed throughout my life, as a baby, as a kid just weaned, as a teenager and as a man.
Seduced By My Shadow w/Dan Gunn (October 14 New Moon)
This track was created in collaboration with my friend Dan Gunn. Dan and I once were the best of mates. We played music in high school together, travelled in a bus around Australia together and recorded/toured the ’Soulin Wild’ album ‘Balance’ together. I remember Dan showing me the guitar riff and chorus to this song years ago and like most of his music I fell in love with it. Dan and I soon grew disconnected and the song went into a long dormancy. Just like the moon cycle this song is the representation of our friendship coming full circle. During the last year we began reconnecting and through creating this song I again see him as a best mate.
Space feat. Florigenix (November 13 New Moon)
I originally found the seed of this song years ago during a tough separation with my ex partner. The guitar riff, lyrics and melody lay dormant in my phone until I recently stumbled upon it, felt inspired by it and decided to see what it would grow into. At some point once it had taken form I sent it over to Florigenix and he soon sent it back with the layers of lush synth that you can hear now.
Cosmic Cuppa feat. Jackson Brown (December 12 New Moon)
Cosmic Cuppa features my good friend Jackson Brown and he weaves his incredible lyrical flow through the verses. When we first began our friendship, Jackson came around and I remember showing him this beat. He instantly loved it and whipped out his little journal and started rapping. I've always been amazed by his talent and as a very amateur rapper myself, I have huge respect for his skills. He later came back to record and I came up with the chorus with ease, with the amazing Wren Bethan joining me with her lovely harmonies.