‘Elizabeth Preston’ by Elizabeth Preston (EP)
On this loopy cellist’s debut, each song starts with a grain of an idea before turning into something more textured and beautiful
The cello is a versatile instrument. In the right hands it can produce a multitude of tones; it can be plucked or bowed, it can ominously thud, or appear fragile and bittersweet. With this in mind, it is hard to imagine why more artists haven’t experimented with looping the instrument in the way that Elizabeth Preston has on her debut EP.
The opening track, Hero Song, begins with a pulsating bassline before several pizzicato riffs come in and the cello is bowed. Each loop moves through the song together, yet is distinctly different from the other parts. Preston’s vocals move effortlessly through the parts, finding its own place within the music.
Comparisons will be made with Joanna Newsom. It is easy to see why: both artists carry an experimental streak and play unusual instruments. However, Preston’s ability to build a beautiful soundscape from a single strand of an idea also bears passing resemblance to Yann Tiersen’s music.
Indian Sun is a fast-paced Western-themed song. The bassline again sets the track off, before Preston adds texture with other loops and handclaps. A cello line is repeated in place of a traditional chorus.
Elizabeth Preston hadn’t always intend to experiment with a looping-pedal. She has been playing the cello since she was about nine years old: “One reckless day, I hooked my cello up to a basic loop pedal I had and building layers came surprisingly naturally. I was instantly captivated.”
The EP closes with Kalimba Song. As the title suggests, a kalimba – an African miniature percussive piano-type instrument – is the cornerstone of the song, and it cuts through the cello parts beautifully.
Make no mistake: Elizabeth Preston’s music is more than an experimentation or gimmick. Her songs, built up from a single idea, turn into a stunning piece of textured music. Multi-faceted, this EP demands return listens.
Verdict: Multi-faceted cello loops