Elliott – Photorecording – Review


Photorecording (Revelation)
by Tim Den

Elliott were either the best example of post-hardcore mutation or a sadly failed attempt at “maturation” by a bunch of overreaching, aging hardcore kids, depending on who you ask. Me? I dug U.S. Songs, LOVED their live shows around their first few tours, had huge hopes for False Cathedrals but only liked half of it, HATED the band’s approach to playing live immediately following, and thought Songs in the Air was a lot of meandering, loosey goosey crap. Photorecording is the band’s farewell testament, playing a best-of set live in the studio, capturing the sometimes reinterpretation of old staples and their collective final days. To my surprise, the Elliott found here are much more cohesive and visionary than the band I last saw almost seven years ago, even on the Songs in the Air material. You recognize the songs’ former selves, but can also appreciate how the band tried to stretch boundaries within the frame. The root of the problem, however, is that – in their search for the ethereal, transcendental, and eerily touching – Elliott left visceral impact behind. Even as airy as some of False Cathedrals was, there was still a punch hidden in there somewhere. Not so on the band’s subsequent live shows and Songs in the Air. All float with no anchor. That problem persists on much of Photorecording, both the audio portion and its accompanying DVD (which has many live clips from the band’s final tour). As guitarist/vocalist Chris Higdon musters every emotion out of his soul, the lack of commitment to dive into much needed pounding produces a sense of wandering, of stumbling-in-the-dark approach to songwriting. Sure, drummer Kevin Ratterman’s as solid as a mountain, but when the rest of the band won’t play anything but sinewy, echoy arpeggios, there’s only so much UMPH you can conjure up.

But Photorecording serves its purpose by preserving Elliot exactly as they were when they broke up, for better or worse. How much you will enjoy it will depend entirely on you.