From The Cabin Above The Clouds is warmer and more introspective than Ellis's previous work. Song-craft and atmosphere has replaced functionalism, though on the right floor at the right time, most of these tracks will make a mark. What helps elevate the music is that Ellis played much of it live, giving his melodies, whether rueful or romantic, more immediacy and his chords more power.
The way Ellis miked his instruments ensures there's a bit of the room in every track. As a result, the music sounds spacious and multidimensional, rather than squished into a narrow band. His technique is especially effective on "Many Times," with its jazzy drums, psyched-out Rhodes and jumbled hits all coalescing into a loose-limbed groove. "Far Reach" marries rolling snares and jazzed-up percussion with sonar blips for its cinematic soundscape, and "From Across The Valley" again fuses the synthetic with the organic, the performed with the programmed.
From The Cabin Above The Clouds slowly shifts moods, from zoned-out reverie to a more paranoid and abstract sound. The clever sequencing adds yet another layer to an album that should bring more attention to this underrated artist.