Bristol-based indie electronic trio Elder Island produce a kind of lush, soulful ambient electro-pop, wrapped up in a retro-futurist aesthetic reminiscent of classic British groups like Broadcast.
Vocalist/cellist Katy Sargent, bassist/programmer Luke Thornton, and guitarist/keyboardist David Harvard met at Bristol University and bonded over a shared love of avant-garde music. They originally formed their trio under the name Traví, as an experimental audiovisual project. Starting out in a folk idiom, they eventually progressed to a house music sound, releasing their eponymous debut EP in 2014, which picked up a couple of plays on the influential radio station BBC 6 Music. Refusing to rush the follow-up, they took their time, finally releasing their second EP, Seeds in Sand, in early 2017.
By the time of their debut album, 2019's The Omnitone Collection, Elder Island's music had evolved into a somewhat slower, more soulful R&B/disco-influenced style. Performing everything live, their composition process involved recording hours-long jams that they would then cut up into loops and edit into tracks, sometimes taking literally years to finish a single piece. Sargent's sultry, smoky voice recalls Portishead's Beth Gibbons, while Thornton's ever-growing collection of exotic percussive instruments contributes to the evolution of the group's sound. ~ John D. Buchanan