Late last year Ex Libras received The Line of Best Fit’s coveted recommended tag for their debut release Suite(s), a brilliant album forged in a garden shed, like all good British inventions. But the shed hasn’t remained dormant, culminating in Cut(s), an acoustic addendum to the well-received full length.
Cut(s) sees Amit Sharma, Ross Kenning and Kieran Nagi remoulding Suite(s) for the amplification-challenged, taking apart six of the album’s tracks and throwing them through the acoustic mixer. That’s not to say that they’ve just whipped out the unplugged guitars however – the atmospheric nature that defined Suite(s) remains a cornerstone of the EP’s sound.
If anything, Cut(s)’s biggest boon is the meticulous sense of dread that courses throughout the EP’s length. The reworked tracks are much gloomier than their originals; a rainy day punctuated by the ray of light in Amit Sharma’s tense voice. On the original album these songs grew to thunderous conclusions; here they are allowed to wallow in themselves.
As an introduction to the band it falters – a sense of familiarity is essential to getting the most out of how Ex Libras have remoulded these tracks, but what Cut(s) does prove to anyone who happens to give it a listen is that the band are more than a one trick pony, and their inspirations are clearly wide ranging.
‘For Us, For Me’ has a hint of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ in the reverberating pound of the drums and ‘I Am Home’ tenderly transposes the original’s (‘Sum Numbers’) electronic drive to delicate plucks of the guitar, that may be familiar to fans of This Will Destroy You. Although these songs were founded on much heavier foundations, Cuts(s) proves the originals have the depth to be just as emotionally enthralling as plaintive, mellow echoes of the riffs that begat them.
Cut(s) has clearly been an opportunity for Ex Libras to take stock of what they have achieved this year. Although an acoustic EP is hardly a groundbreaking release, its biggest victory is finding genuinely interesting ways to interpret their already impressive past release. Cut(s) only reinforces the sense that this band, holed up in that shed, are something special, if not unique among a lot of their contemporaries. It’s dark and it’s gloomy, but buried underneath the moroseness is something beautiful.