Ellul

Ellul

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Consisting of multi-instrumentalists Joel St. Julien and Joel Brown-Tarman, Ellul on their self-titled debut are accompanied by three fellow performers to create an enjoyable if not totally surprising debut. There's a fairly heavy ghost of Radiohead hanging over the album -- "Ballet Faces," which starts the CD, ends on a vocal/musical note awfully reminiscent of "You and Whose Army?," and while Thom Yorke isn't being cloned throughout, any number of wailing backing vocals bring the Oxford quintet's harmonies to mind. (Though Paul Buchanan of the Blue Nile honestly arises just as much -- consider the performance on "Freedom," which could almost be a cut off of Hats.) The embrace -- polite if not overwhelming -- of the gentler side of electronic music on songs like "Maniacs Collide" further underscores the connection. But the continuum can be more accurately labeled as the kind of not unknown but not Top 40 version of rock & roll moodiness of bands like the Flaming Lips as well, fitting in a niche while not being entirely part of it. Further, the attractive murk throughout is its own fine form of low-key mood music, as with the conclusion of "Esophagus," soft keyboard drones and drums suggesting Mogwai's calmer moments, and the vocal/piano combination on "Around the Bend," a late-night lament in the finest tradition (even with the rough beat burst in the middle).

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