Ela Stiles is one-third of Melbourne group Bushwalking and a fourth of Sydney’s Songs. ‘Kumbh Mela’ comes from her forthcoming self-titled solo LP through Bedroom Suck. I don’t know what you expected from a solo Ela Stiles record, but I wasn’t banking on a strange, atmospheric A cappella record. According to Bedroom Suck, the A-side will feature songs in the vein of ‘Kumbh Mela’, while the B-side will be a long voice-based drone composition.
The song embedded below is striking because it doesn’t use any of the studio tricks you’d associate with a rock artist going A cappella: the harmonies are pure, there’s no overuse of echo or reverb, and Stiles’ voice is strong and expressive yet, importantly, quite austere and restrained. No idea whether ‘Kumbh Mela’ is indicative of how the rest of the side sounds, but I’d be satisfied if it was.
The record releases May 5. She plays Sydney this Friday with Blank Realm, among others.