Ella Thompson’s Domino is a spooky, bittersweet collection of cinematic soul cuts influenced by 1970s Italian ‘Giallo’ film scores, with luminous vocals that draw a line between 60s icons like Nancy Sinatra and contemporary soul artists like Kadhja Bonet. Ella’s effortless singing and haunting lyrics paint angular pictures in the moody darkness. In her words: “The original instrumental of the song ‘Domino’ is titled ‘Swimming in a cold lake at night’ this kind of sums up the feeling of many of the songs on the record….seeing light in dark places, freedom and anxiety of the unknown, curiosity, never regretting a swim and the euphoria you get when you come out the other end.”
The sparse production is intentionally cinematic, deeply influenced by the music of Italian ‘Giallo’ film scores of the 1970s, particularly by composers like Piero Piccioni but comparable to current artists like Adrian Younge or Bad Bad Not Good in a meditative mood. Minimal but propulsive bass and drums know when to hang back, as
they do in the title track and when to step forward as they do in the chugging, deep and funky rhythm section work on the single Never Fight The Way You Feel. Choral vocal textures by Ella’s backing vocalists Rita Stach and Hailey Cramer create deep harmonic backgrounds, sometimes sounding like an epic ensemble of voices, sometimes laying down ethereal and delicate parts, almost imperceptible. Nylon string guitar features prominently, creating hypnotic chordal beds as sparse piano and tuned percussion pick out minimal, evocative melodies.
All the instrumentation used in Domino was created by Frollen Music Library, a library music project by the musicians behind Karate Boogaloo, Henry Jenkins, Hudson Whitlock and Darvid Thor, all long term collaborators and friends of Ella’s. When she heard their take on 1960s and 1970s soundtracks, Ella had an immediate creative response: “My ears lit up when I heard these cinematic melodies, and I couldn’t help but turn them into something else for words and voices.” She recorded all her vocals, and those of her backing singers, with Frollen engineer Henry Jenkins in a two day whirlwind, eschewing perfectionism and striking before the magic of the moment faded. The result is sublime. In Henry’s words: “When I first heard what she had written I was floored. She completely reimagined the instrumental pieces of music we had composed and took them to new heights”.
Ella has returned to making music under her own name in 2023 after years releasing music with her electro pop duo GL and cult indie band Dorsal Fins. One of Australia’s truly accomplished singers, Ella’s range reaches from art music to cinematic soul, jazz and pop. In addition to her solo project and bands she has been a featured artist for numerous acts most notably, deep funk pioneers The Bamboos and Mark Ronson.