The atmospheric and personal sound that 1st Base Runner created with his album Seven Years of Silence has been expanded on for Ellis. The new EP is a collaboration with his long-time friend Bryan Ellis and brings a much livelier sound to listeners’ ears. With a burst of bright chorus and moving percussion, the hazy glow that filled the soundscape of his previous release is sharpened, but not forgotten.
Bringing splashes of indie rock, shoegaze, electronic, ambient and pop elements together, the EP offers a new cohesive sound signature, that is just as infectious as the last. Continuing to draw on his experience as a synth symphonist, 1st Base Runner takes the next steps in crafting intriguing soundscapes that meet warm vocals to tell the tales of his songs.
‘Near Me’ starts the EP with some electronic beats that border on the experimental. These initial beats are joined by higher, lightly pulsing synth notes. The synth lines meander down the soundscape, together getting you to float and tap along to them. When the vocals come in, they also bring this layered approach. There is an almost darkwave touch to the vocals, as the lower vocal line whispers in the dark, while the higher line questions you. The music takes a darker turn, with a touch of gothic expanse that drops back to the opening lines. A darkly atmospheric track, you can hear the addition of new melodic elements that are sure to take the rest of the EP in a new direction, compared to what we have heard before.
A deep vibration rocks through your chest in the opening of ‘Flux’. This has you diving headfirst into some serious rock tones. The moving rock drums are countered by soaring electronic notes that sparkle in the dark light of the track. The vocals are a sombre sigh that lightly vibrates in your chest next to that opening line. As the single progresses, the vocals get a lighter touch, but never really exit the shadows. Woven into the melody is a slightly off-kilter tone that warbles in the back of your mind. The vocals are rather melancholic as they consider the distance between two people who have moved on with life, without each other.
‘Numbers’ brings that experimental edge back to a light industrial beat that calls to you through the expanse of an empty warehouse. The vocals swing in like someone standing behind you suddenly talking and causing you to spin around. The vocal performance is nostalgic, but there is a serious dark edge to the remembrance of the lyrics. This turns into a bittersweet feeling of having wanted something that would be sweet, but realising that it was bad and not what you expected. It is a really sad track that dredges up pain and anguish, adding salt to old wounds that may have just been starting to heal. It is an impressive and immersive single that you honestly don’t ever want to end, and will probably listen to again as soon as it ends.
A bopping tone comes into the EP with ‘WXW’ and the bouncing, yet droning beat. The tumbling electronic tones in the higher levels add a brighter feeling to the music that livens up the vocals. The vocals have a hazy edge that works perfectly with the tentative emotions woven into them. They bring the feeling of affection held for someone, but being scared to admit them to the person. At times, it almost feels like you are looking into the thoughts of an introvert and it has been wonderfully handled. The music has a touch of wistful longing paired with a contained feeling of wanting to reach out, but being unsure of whether you should.
The EP ends with the popping and bursting electronic tones of ‘man Overboard’. There is a slightly futuristic or cosmic pop feeling to those electronic notes that open the track which leads you to the droning path of the lower tones. The ambient hum that stretches through the higher levels is like the cresting of a hill. This is potentially the most atmospheric track on the EP and brings all the elements of the EP together for a single cohesive movement. There are touches of organic notes that flow into shining electronic tones that have you floating in the soundscape. Through all this, the vocals anchor you to the lyrics, while the music washes over you like the waves of the ocean.
1st Base Runner brings a new touch to his atmospheric sound, with an edge of darkness as he traverses the tracks of Ellis. Each track is completely unique, but there is an underlying thread that holds them all together. As they touch on different musical styles, the vocals in each track are emotive as they pull you into the story of the lyrics.