Similar to letting a child armed with neon paints loose in a room of blank walls, the debut 5-track EP from Melbourne madwoman Ecca Vandal is an absolute blinder.
With anecdotes taken from a variety of musical influences, from start to end you’re filled with that anticipation of what will come next? A Bollywood-beat breakdown or jagged driving guitars spiralling with ferocity?
Then there are the equally diversified modes of Ecca’s vocals. She channels Gwen Stefani at peak-1990’s ska queen with her shouting ‘take no sh*t’ demeanour, but then quickly but fluidly echoes the Santigold and M.I.A. matter of fact-ness with her part-singing, part-spoken style.
It all starts with the head thrashing, neck ache-inducing opener Running At People Exiting. Containing the aforementioned softer side of vocals combined with the wailing declarations of movement, the guitars are ferocious, and assimilate into an absolute barricade of sound. We’re treated to a stripped-back instrumental breakdown that, for the last 30-seconds, seems to disperse into a glitch-laden electronic breakdown, bongo-sounding beats and synths included.
After that adrenalin-fuelled ordeal, follow-up End of Time provides some respite. With more impassioned singing from Ecca, proclamations of “you’re my air/ you’re my blood/you’re my drug/you’re my thrill/wouldn’t trade you for nothing” ring out in sincerity atop of a subtle beat. Overall, the song sounds beautiful, with flowing electronic sounds and subtle cymbal crashes. The only point of contention is a synth, most akin to that of WARP 1.9 of The Bloody Beetroots fame, which kicks in the beginning of the chorus in a seemingly unnecessary and underwhelming fashion.
Truth To Trade may be the shortest track within the collection, but this middle jam packs an absolute punch. The opening beat is reminiscent of the Space Invaders-era arcade games, but suddenly it retires to leave us glaring down the barrel of rich, fat guitar riffs ebbing beneath a borderline rapping Ecca, who positively howls through the chorus with maximum control. Yet again we’re thrown a curveball at the 2-minute mark with a reverberating hip-hop beat that lasts for about 15 seconds before the chorus crashes through. It’s a high contender for the EP standout.
However, fourth track Divided just scrapes through to claim that title. With guitar sounds that seem like the distant cousin of Bloc Party’s sound, the subject matter of this song reflects on ethnicity, culture and a relationship that collapses from disapproving attitudes from racist parents. Startling lyrics are what take this song to new heights, with the chorus alone grabbing you by the throat with lines “you can’t bring that dark girl home / ’cos mummy’s waiting to see the generation that follows” and “you just couldn’t grow a pair / to raise what they wish we had a aborted”. It’s relentless in its instrumentation, on point with it’s content and undeniably catchy.
It’s hard to think a track could follow that up, but the punk guitar vibes paired with electronic flourishes from closing track Battle Royal put up a good fight. Vocals on point yet again in all of their versatile goodness, Ecca wails, mocks, spits and sings her way through the urgency, as breakdowns into verses crash around her and the guitars continue relentlessly. Then, for the final twist, we stop for a winding dancehall rhythm, with soft soulful vocals flowing over the top, which soon dissipates into one final ruckus.
It’s a wild ride contained in just five songs, and at times it may not make complete sense, but Ecca Vandal should be commended on a flavour-filled EP that smashes all boundaries and is infectious in it’s temperament.
Watch: Ecca Vandal – End Of Time