3 Dec 2022

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MELLIS - EP Review: Escape

14 Jun 2022 // A review by Steve Shyu

There’s been a retro-wave revival simmering around the world, with groups like Drab Majesty, Gunship, Perturbator, plus Kiwi artists PolarisRadio establishing themselves in various electronic and rock circles. Many have performed live to vast audiences and also racking up healthy amounts of plays on streaming platforms. One Kiwi musician could also be pinned to the above lists: Marc Ellis, stage name Mellis, has been releasing retro-electronic grooves since 2005 with his debut recording Puppet Generation. Don’t be fooled by the artist logo on the cover image! Though it looks like one of a heavy metal group, the music is not aggressive by any measures, but judging by Mellis’s latest release, the EP Escape, it certainly packs the depth of that genre.

At first listen, it’s a blend of ambient electronic music with cinematic scores, but it doesn’t take long for one to start noticing hints of classical music poking through, like on Metro 2220, where swells of string arrangements are coupled with sampled percussions and electronic grooves. Sort of like a collision between present-day techno and music from the 19th century.

Seemingly inspired by music from late-90’s and early 2000’s video games, there’s the stylistic pulsing of bass, the synthesised drum loops, and hooky keyboard riffs. There’s nothing overly intense, taking on more of a mood-setter appeal, the type you hear as the opening screen of an old-school game is booted up; Quake III and Red Faction are examples that come to mind (If you know, then you know). For a good dose of nostalgia, be sure to check out Cyrosleep and Quantum AI.

The EP’s prime cut sits at the very end of the five-track, entitled Song of Mary. Interestingly, this arrangement is based on a renowned classical piece of music, and for that reason alone, ranks as the most brilliant on this record.

Admittedly, however, as someone who was once very involved in orchestras and chamber music, I cannot for the life of me recall the original that this is modelled on! (My old music theory teacher would be hugely disappointed…) Nevertheless, there’s a good chance the average listener will recognise the melody, as it’s often used in television series and films. Song of Mary is a delightfully unexpected addition to the EP, this reimagining of a classical composition expressed electronically further showcases Mellis’s flair of fusing old with new. Personally, I’d love to hear more of this, perhaps dispersed in different tracks over a full-length album.

Retro? Definitely.

Ambient? Check.

Dynamic? Yes sir.

Delightfully electronic? Absolutely.

One certainly hopes nothing stops Mr. Marc Ellis from creating more, because Escape sure sounds like a sign of good things to come.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )


MELLIS, otherwise known as Marc Ellis, is a NZ multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer.
Playing trumpet from age 6, MELLIS completed all practical Trinity/Royals exams, up to ATCL by age 18 and spent the majority of those years playing in Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble’s, Big Band and Brass Bands where he eventually joined the NZ Army Band full time and has served for 16 years.

Marc has traveled & performed at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo 7 times, The Queens Jubilee at Windsor Castle twice, Basel Tattoo in Switzerland 5 times, Bremen Tattoo in Germany, London, Singapore, Gallipoli in Turkey, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and many more.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for MELLIS


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