Ebeling Hughes - "Transfigured Night"
(Zero Hour 1998, ZER CD 1240)
From Aural Innovations #4 (October 1998)
Ebeling Hughes are, well, Ebeling and Hughes. Bob and Charles, respectively, that is. Specifically, a duo of multi-instrumentalists from Detroit, Michigan that derive their inspiration (don't we all?) from 70's masters Pink Floyd and the like. Oddly, Ebeling got his start working on albums by rapper Kid Rock, a friend from high school days. Once he'd gained valuable experience in the music studio, which I suspect he now considers a laboratory, Ebeling Hughes was born in order to create experimental mood music in the psychedelic/space realm. An early four-track cassette simply entitled "Space" was then followed up by the 1996 full-length debut "The Little Bugs Glow." Now comes "Transfigured Night," a 14-track journey into the world of texture and sonic experimentation.
Heavy, synthetic-sounding bass and broad organ tones from Hughes provide the tapestry for the opening track 'Transfigured,' which turns out in the end to be one of the strongest tunes. Hughes also provides the vocals, normally softly delivered in a slick, pseudo-Britpop manner, as you discover during the next track, 'Butterfly,' which is reminiscent of No-Man (the one with Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson). Here we hear Ebeling's acoustic guitar (revisited often) and some really boomy bass sounds. Like many tracks to come, this song has the feel of Floyd's "Obscured by Clouds" album, one that I quite like despite it's stifled tempo. Unfortunately, most tracks on 'Transfigured Night' are irreparably spoiled by plodding pace. Ebeling's drumming accurately keeps the time and provides dimension to the sonic extravagancy, but mostly it reminds the listener just how slow we're moving forward.
Things don't really pick up until late in the album with 'Twinkle Little Star,' a melodic track with soothing vocals and harmonizing Turtles-style. 'Please Thank You' then provides some highlights with phased guitars, synths, and effects, recalling Steve Hillage at his best, but it's all too brief as this one is only two minutes long. The album's best song is the finale 'Night,' a quicker, heavily-syncopated instrumental piece, with more of that great boomy bass and thick swashes of synth. All-in-all, this is an album heavy on the experimental side with loads of studio wizardry and slick production, but lacking enough substance in the music to support it all. Perhaps, as in the case of Alan Parsons, the future of Ebeling and Hughes is in engineering and production rather than as performing artists (although I could imagine success in the film soundtrack arena). And I say that recognizing that Bob Ebeling did just that on the latest album by fellow Motor City madmen Walk on Water, reviewed here also.
You can visit Ebeling Hughes at their web site.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson