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Album Review: Banker’s Hill by El Ten Eleven

Seminal post-rock duo El Ten Eleven released their new album Banker’s Hill on 10th August via Topshelf Records (physical release in the UK on 7th September). Armed with merely a double-neck bass/guitar, drums and a dizzying array of pedals, El Ten Eleven create complex, meticulously-crafted post-rock from scratch, onstage, with no help from laptops or additional musicians. Made up of Kristian Dunn (bass, guitar) and Tim Fogarty (drums), they utilize multiple looping pedals to create songs that sound as though they are being played by at least six people.

First time listeners will be amazed by the depth of El Ten Eleven’s sound. It might be a cliché when talking about duos, but in this instance, it couldn’t be truer. Banker’s Hill sounds especially big, perhaps in part to (for the first time) having an outside influence on the album. The band brought producer Sonny Diperri into the fold and moved up to the beautiful Panoramic House studios in Stinson Beach on the beautiful Northern California coast to create their seventh album (also, their first for Topshelf Records).

“Working with such a talented producer really pulled out our strengths and cut away our weaknesses,” say the band. “We learned and grew more than we expected to and couldn’t be happier with the results. Some people are running from the current moment, we’re running towards it. Come with us.”

‘Three and a Half Feet High and Rising’ starts the album on a high point that it never dips from. Opening with a bassline with tones of 80s post-punk floats our boat and from that it’s an album you fall in love with. ‘Phenomenal Problems’ has some brilliant soaring guitars that transport you to a majestic post-rock landscape, then you have ‘You Are Enough’ which might just be the catchiest instrumental rock song you hear this year. The immediacy and uplifting nature of the track comes from “[the] strange beauty in anxiety if one can observe it and not be enslaved by it (which is not easy!) via mindfulness. Darkness creeping into one’s life, which is represented by that long breakdown in the song, can actually increase gratefulness and end up being a net positive.”

The looping intricacies of ‘We Don’t Have A Sail But We Have A Rudder’ are a pure joy while ‘Gyroscopic Precession’ throws a pop tinge onto a post-rock template. The sumptuous bassline is insatiable and when the track breaks down it couldn’t be anymore haunting and emotional. Title track ‘Banker’s Hill’ excels in gradual atmospheric post-rock while ‘Listening to Clouds’ transports the listener to a euphoric wonderland. ‘Reverie’ has the heart of an electronic track (thus is the mastery of the duo) with the feel of Minus The Bear’s command of post-rock with a pop twist. Closer ‘09 This Morning With Her, Having Coffee’ is the perfect, atmospheric conclusion to a masterclass in immediate post-rock – just revel in that bassline.

AD Rating 9/10

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