Ex-Easter Island Head - Twenty-Two Strings

Album Review by Gary Kaill | 10 Aug 2016
  • Ex-Easter Island Head - Twenty-Two Strings
Album title: Twenty-Two Strings
Artist: Ex-Easter Island Head
Label: Low Point
Release date: 5 Aug 2016

The Liverpool collective's unique methodology is exposed on the cover of their latest album. Three electric guitars + one bass = twenty-two strings. With the addition of drum kit and a selection of tuned bells, their toolbox is tiny but their ambition is vast.

Ex-Easter Island Head are canny and courageous explorers and their minimalist compositions marry both textural and narrative invention. Opener Four Guitars sets the austere tone: ringing chords, a stark rim shot keeping time, a four-note motif with the fourth played on the off-beat. Unsettling, mesmerising – as the volume increases, the piece appears to approach from a distance – and very beautiful.

Two Coins jitters and twitches before slipping almost unnoticed into Sixteen Snares: a heart-stopping segue. The near-formless, epic title track is blessed relief amidst the tumult, before the pulsing Six Sticks makes for a heady, euphoric climax. Seven tracks, and a million and one ideas: Twenty-Two Strings is anything but a by-the-numbers exercise.