Drawing the night in around his private, unnerving vigil, Ellis Swan returns to Quindi Records with an album of cracked beauty and haunted balladry. The Chicago-based singer-songwriter debuted on the label last year with a collaborative project called Dead Bandit, a vividly produced instrumental set in thrall to the badlands and a laconic, languid Americana.

Under his own name, Swan records intimate, poetic songs in a stark fashion, so fragile they might disintegrate in between your fingers were you to pick them up. He draws the microphone close to pick up every whisper and drags the music through layer upon layer of tape fuzz, leaving room for atmospheric impressions which loom out of the walls like the ghosts of past misdeeds. These pieces play on the natural distortion and delirium which occurs at the farthest end of the night – the hour before dawn might hope to break the veil of darkness.

Swan’s is a hauntological sound, but like the late Israeli rockabilly icon Charlie Megira his process strikes a spooked tone past revivalism and out of time or place. The only anchor which places Swan anywhere is the subtle presence of Katherine Swan providing lyrics to ‘3am’ and lyrics and backing vocals to ‘It Could Be Worse’.

The impression cast is of one man and his guitar, but there are other textures tucked into the music – the muffled murmur of a drum machine or a low frequency organ hum, some desolate piano, other treated percussive impulses which might well have been the work of incidental sprites while the four-track was rolling.

There are fuller cuts like ‘Evening Sun’ and the title track ‘3am’ which play with structural dynamics and creep out of the shadows a touch, while passages of plaintive, instrumental unease such as the hypnotic, mantra-like ‘Chinatown’ protract the space between songs. ‘Swing’ lolls between moments of bottomless silence and a discernible, rickety funk, and ‘Puppeteers Tears’ teases out a buried drama. But primarily, it’s the light touch of ‘Horses Bones’ and tin can tenderness of ‘She’s My Sweet Summer Storm’ which spell out the spellbinding character of 3am; a singular creation fusing the best qualities of folk, blues and Americana with a fearlessly experimental sound palette.

Brainwashed: www.brainwashed.com/index.php/reviews-easyblog/ellis-swan-3am
White light / White Heat: www.whitelight-whiteheat.com/wl-wh-review-tremendous-psych-folk-reveries-by-ellis-swan-at-3am-lp-quindi-records
Sun13: sun-13.com/2022/10/26/ellis-swan-3am

released October 7, 2022
All tracks were written, recorded and performed by Ellis Swan, except for ”3am” lyrics written by Katherine and Ellis Swan, and “It Could Be Worse” lyrics written by, and additional vocals by, Katherine Swan.
Mastered by MA Spaventi.
Layout by JDN.

C+P Quindi Records 2022.

Ltd Black Vinyl 12″

Video Credits
Tracks Basement suite + Down by the resevoir
Directed by Opificio Ciclope

Video Credits
Track It could be worse
Directed by Opificio Ciclope