The EGH Project is made up of three talented musicians, whose individual abilities combine to form a unique musical style that can take elements of house music, chill-out, Brazilian and Afro-house and blend them together impeccably well. Their 2014 album Life Song goes through these genres to great success, providing an engaging and entertaining listen nearly start to finish. It does make a misstep or two, and also may have some problems finding an audience amongst the hardcore house fans, but it’s still undeniably strong.
Vocalist Eric van Aro, producer and writer Sebastiano Mambretti, and keyboardist/programmer DJ Marco Finotello make contributions here that result in creating something greater than what the individual parts suggest. Life Song is a powerful creative statement more than anything else. Though it uses a lot of house beats and arrangements, there’s a substantial amount of lyrical depth to some of the tracks along with consistently powerful vocals. And for all the programmed beats and keys, there’s still room for some pieces to include breathtakingly smooth saxophone parts and in one particular instance, stellar guitar work.
Because of all the layers and dimensions to the music, it’s hard for there to be a specific audience that this album will cater to. The deep house arrangements might be made for dancing, but the lyrics are made to be listened to and absorbed. The chill-out tones are effective, but there are also enough exciting and engaging performances to stop the tracks from being truly relaxing. Instead, the EGH Project has come up with a fantastically unique experience that draws upon the creative heights of groups like Massive Attack and The Orb, but with some pop sensibilities that something like Everything But The Girl could really capture.
“Walkin’ to the Rhythm” starts the album off by diving straight into the deep house sound and surfacing with an exotic beat that’s simultaneously soft and catchy. Van Aro’s vocals are fairly restrained and fitting with the atmosphere of the piece and his delivery has a cadence to it that perfectly matches the groove. The late addition of a brief saxophone solo punctuates things nicely, allowing the song to end on a high note without breaking stride.
When it comes to implementing non-programmed instrumentation, “E2E: is the strongest example of that. The song is dedicated to Eric Clapton and besides name dropping his nickname of Slowhand, it also features some fairly intense guitar playing from Luca Verde. At first he throws in a couple of bluesy chords but ultimately ends up laying down a solo and doing an admirable interpretation of Clapton’s signature tone and style.
The saxophone from Alberto Pompignoli meanwhile is a frequent addition to the tracks and on numbers like “Tattoo” or “Forever Ride,” give them enough of a boost to where they avoid falling into being too repetitive for their own good. The difference its inclusion makes is notable too when you listen to songs that lack it such as “Water and Life” or the cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” The latter of these is an interesting choice for a cover but doesn’t quite work because of how heavily emotional the vocal and lyric is on Chapman’s original, something that doesn’t ring as true here. “Water and Life” on the other hand puts van Aro into too much of a spoken word role when it would’ve been far more beneficial to let his beautiful singing voice carry the song.
On a cut such as “Brazil N Bossa” van Aro sings his heart out and that alone is enough to make it memorable. The arrangement here is also amazingly strong and that just compounds the enjoyment of things. The “Brazil” part of the title is taken to heart and leads to a mix of percussive, string, and brass effects that are drastically different than any other sounds on the record. Not only is it a strong indicator of the talent within The EGH Project, but it’s also a great example of how varied the house genre can be when different cultural elements are put into play.
Special note should be given too for other memorable tracks like “Live My Love” with its wonderful sense of sensuality, “One Life One Song” that features the group at its most lyrically deep and intense and “Sing Together” which has the distinction of featuring a duet between van Aro and guest vocalist, Maggie Smile. If anyone were under the impression that electronic house music all sounds similar, this would go a long way towards shattering that premise.
The EGH Project and their stunning album Life Song is an almost perfectly constructed adventure through sounds, textures, moods, and ideas that listeners aren’t going to forget. It’s melding and straddling of genres may leave hardcore house and chill out fans wanting something a bit more focused and in-depth, but general music fans and newcomers to the genres are going to be in for a more than special treat.
Artist: The EGH Project
Album: Life Song
Rating: 4.5 Stars (out of 5)
Review by: Heath Andrews
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