Described by her label (Bedroom Suck) as a “hairpin turn”, this debut solo LP from Ela Stiles – bass player and singer in rock bands Songs and Bushwalking – is seven uncomplicated a-capella tracks. Side A’s songs average one minute in length and side B is a single 10-minute track aptly titled ‘Drone Transitions’.
While side A’s fragments allude to creative impatience, they appeal in the manner of an observation jotted in an inspired moment: more raw and true than later edits. Stiles’ layered vocals are not really a “hairpin turn” from her frostily pure vocals with Bushwalking but her brave a-capella experiment here reminds us how many interesting traditions can be mined with voice alone.
On ‘Kumbh Mela’ we hear the ‘m’ sustain in a vibrating ‘om’ while other tracks seem poised to slide into a Clannad song with some old English phrasing (“just to see you smile true”) capping off the Celtic feel.