While a change of moniker didn’t bring with it a completely different sound for Swindon outfit Colour The Atlas, it certainly marked a mature change of direction. Formerly trading under the name Jess Hall Band, the four-piece returned to their hometown over the past few months to cement this change of direction, writing and recording new material for their third EP (or second under the name Colour The Atlas). Jess, Andy, Alex and Stefan have moved further away from the folk-inspired acoustic sounds of their earlier work and delved into the renaissance of the trip-hop genre. Still centred on pensive song writing, and the soulful vocals of front woman Jess Hall, the Opaline EP adds an exciting layer of electronic songcrafting and downtempo production.
Opening track and lead single That Sound immediately reveals the band’s more mature sound. With a penchant for tranquil soundscapes, That Sound starts with a beautiful duet from Jess and Alex, underpinned by bare keys, bass and shimmering percussion. As the track progresses, it is textured exquisitely with guitar, synthesised strings, and additional percussion, always allowing the affecting vocals to take centre stage.
Carried by an infectious, enigmatic guitar riff and lively percussion, Come Alive thrusts us into a different pallet of music influences. Agile, rhythmic drumming, glittering guitar and soaring vocals take the track to another realm, before landing in the languid grooves of How Many Times. Featuring another radiant duet between Jess and Alex, How Many Times is an elevating journey into the unique sounds of trip-hop that takes us to the EP’s final track.
Look Inside Your Mind abandons completely the pop influence that reared its head in the first half of the EP, revealing a much darker sound that better supports the band’s trip-hop direction. Its swelling chorus, mesmerising harmonies, and iridescent atmosphere illustrate just how far Colour The Atlas have travelled. The Opaline EP, and particularly its final track, offers a promising glimpse into the future possibilities of the young British band. Trading in atmospheric musical spaces, arresting vocal harmonies, and an ambient take on the trip-hop genre with traces of pop and folk, Colour The Atlas look set to do what their name suggests in the coming years.