Sometimes it’s what you don’t do that ends up being important. In the case of Elan Benroch’s debut under the moniker Elka, the decision to resist adding and dropping musical elements at a hyperactive pace is refreshing. Chants ranges from classic house to ‘80s inspired nu‐disco and makes good use of Elka’s apparent love of retro sounds and tape echoes, while staying disciplined with a minimal design ethos.
The majority of the tracks on Chants begin how they end; the compositions quickly introduce elements that remain relevant throughout the tracks. This is a very patient exercise in musical sequencing because it is all too easy to hit the panic button and change the entire flow of a piece. With Chants, the listener is allowed to loiter blissfully with the established beats and basslines. The minimal changes that occur awash the soundscape with subtle variations, likening to to a slow incoming tide complete with sand, grit and everything else. “Closer” is perhaps the most hypnotic subtle change‐up in the mix. The initial beat is a purposeful flurry of electronic percussion that messes with the timing in your head the more you listen to it. When the slightly crusty snare finally drops at the 3 minute mark, there is this fantastic realignment with the primal rhythm of the piece, giving off the imagined impression that the beat has somehow previously jumped off of it’s own time signature. Meanwhile, the harmonics deviate little from their opening presentation, maintaining a comfortable vibe with the whole affair.
While the concept of slowly manipulating only a few musical phrases seems to work well for most tracks, “Fairbeat” in particular sounds unfinished, as Elka plays with some cool drum sequences that never really go anywhere. It sort of feels like the moment when you find that old analog drum machine at a swap meet and fiddle with it for the first time. Still, the track is highly danceable and the beat is ultra cool — an aesthetic it shares with the rest of its cousins on the album.
Chants is a gratifying electronica record with big retro bass lines, sweeping synths, and gritty beats, all woven together with a less‐is‐more ideology. It’s destined to be placed on repeat at a house party, or if you are lucky enough to get the cassette, Chants will happily drain the batteries off your walkman.