Elika: Trying Got Us Nowhere
Fiercely Indie

Formed in New York in 2005 by Evagelia Maravelias (vocals, keyboards, drums) and Brian Wenckebach (guitar, keyboards, programming), Elika characterizes its music as a blissed-out, head-nod mix of downtempo, trance, IDM, and pretty much everything in between. Maravelias may not welcome the comparison but it's almost impossible to hear “The Whip” and “To the End” on its half-hour mini-album Trying Got Us Nowhere and not be reminded of Madonna's singing, even if the kind of guitar-based roar otherwise inflaming the songs has never graced—to my knowledge at least—The Material Girl's recordings. Having said that, the group cites Karen Carpenter as an influence (in addition to Ulrich Schnauss, Nico, and Squarepusher, among others) so perhaps Maravelias won't be too greatly offended by the comparison. Schnauss himself likens the group's sound to a shoegaze-electronica fusion but, while not wholly inaccurate, doing so underacknowledges Elika's oft-raw attack. “Nowhere” similarly works up some serious molten guitar heat but not so much that the song's wistful melodies, which move so beautifully to the forefront at the song's end, are missed, while “Let Down” scatters enough melodic hooks and tasty vocal counterpoint across its axe-generated squall to justify its single status. Trying Got Us Nowhere also includes a blurry soundscape interlude (“Confidence Killed My Spirit”), haunting ballad (“They'll Hate Us”) featuring a lovely Mazzy Starr-like chorus, and a pretty electronic lullaby with which to send listeners off to sleep (“Eliana”). Hopefully, the album's release will help Elika get somewhere; Maravelias and Wenckebach certainly sound like they're trying hard enough.

June 2008