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Live Review: Ella Thompson unfurls the corners of her remarkably affective songwriting on her Hysteria EP

2 November 2018 | 8:36 am | Kyle Fensom

On Hysteria, her first solo work in three years, Ella Thompson unfurls all corners of her remarkably affecting songwriting to the world

ELLA THOMPSON has just released her first body of solo material since 2015, the long-awaited Hysteria EP.

The previously released lead single, ‘Snow’, and the title track open the EP in stylish fashion, all gorgeous, patiently building soundscapes replete with hushed electronic percussion, reverb-soaked melodies and enveloping walls of airy synth pads. Beneath these deceptively light exteriors, Thompson packages her musings on, among other things, beauty, gender, longing and the ephemerality of a commitment. She’s able to pull this trick off because, as the opening suite affirms, she’s a remarkably mature songwriter, bringing all the experience of her overqualified resumé (Thompson is also a member of GL, DORSAL FINS, and THE BAMBOOS) to the fore.


As the EP progresses, she unfurls further corners of her songwriting, as if reintroducing herself tentative step by tentative step after her prolonged absence. ‘Dare’ opens in similarly dreamy fashion, but then bit by bit you can feel the synth pads grow gradually flatter, Thompson’s vocal melodies, instead of soaring into the ether, fall to the ground, a warping bass synth that doesn’t always seem to sit with the rest of the song works its way into the fold, introducing darker undertones to Thompson’s dream. Eventually, the entire song cedes way to this bass, Thompson’s reverb-soaked vocals curling around shimmering synths that pulsate back and forth in your headphones like a gentle, pastel-coloured rave on the clouds.

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Thompson delves deeper into these darker inclinations on the EP’s closing track, ‘Undine’. By far the most orchestral-sounding song on Hysteria, ‘Undine’ pares Thompson’s synth-scapes back to their barest bones, faint notes of lone bass and cascading, minimalist synth lines engaged in a balletic, call-and-response dance around one another. Instead, for the most part, these synths cede ground to the drama of a wandering grand piano and a wilting, mournful string section that rise and fall with the track before the EP closes, appropriately, with a whisper.

Of the release, Thompson says that “this EP is a collection of songs I’ve written over the last year or so. They are stories of my observations and experiences, sounds and words I’ve been collecting. It’s been some time since I’ve released music on my own, and I’m excited to keep making and releasing more creations. My new record label and publication POOL is now the home base for all these new works. I hope these songs find their way to your ears, your day or night”.

Hysteria is out now via. POOL Records - you can stream it here.

IMAGE: Supplied