Cut(s) is, on the face of it, just an acoustic version of half of Ex Libra’s debut full-length Suite(s), released late last year.
But this is no simple acoustic rehash. This is no man-with-guitar attempt to reduce songs to their atomic level. Ex Libras have pared these tracks down to the barest of bones and reshaped them into something they call loopcoustica.
A great deal of work has clearly gone into this process – so much so that you lose something for every notch you turn the volume below the maximum. The whole of Cut(s) sounds like it was recorded in a dusty old house with wooden floorboards and creaking stairways. It sounds like High Definition looks. You can hear the bow pulling at the cello strings.
From the first moments of opener ‘For Us, For Me’, when the plucking melody begins to thread itself through swirling, looped beats and scratchy sampling, you are taken to a world that effortlessly combines quiet piano and string parts with looped drum and effects samples.
‘Teenage Eyes’, the recent single and probably the obvious choice for it, takes this a step further. In combining a delicate autumnal piano hook that would not seem out of place two hundred years ago with an array of clicking loops and an ethereal vocal (all the more effective for it’s sparse use and, though I’m sure singer Amit Sharma has heard this before, not absolutely unlike an early Thom Yorke), the track sums up the best qualities of the rest of the record. There is a delicate nature to it, but also something very powerful.
But enough of that. This is not an EP to deconstruct too far. It’s charm lies in the sweeping whole, the mixture of the timeless and the modern, the soaring vocals and the intense richness of the production. I don’t know if they planned it, but Ex Libras are releasing this EP at the perfect time. Just as the days begin to shorten and we start having to put on coats and scuff around the place waiting for spring, Cut(s) comes along as a great accompaniment to the end of summertime and the quiet introspection that often goes with it.
Cut(s) is not an record that will grab you by the throat. It it thoughtful, delicate, and will rightfully demand your attention. It deserves it.
Ex Libras – Cut(s) EP – Released 6th September: Please visit exlibras.co.uk for full information