Malcolm Galloway 2020

Triumph of miniscule detail that work towards impressionistic masterpiece from London polymath who can dissolve himself in tuneful glimmer.

Wasp 76b

Malcolm Galloway leads a double musical life: more often than not, he’s a member of HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT’S ADEQUATE who occasionally ventures out independently. Named after an exoplanet, his sophomore solo effort is bound to register on every post-rock radar, even though it’s rather unusual. There are no soundscapes per se on “Wasp 7b” – no expanses for sonic motions – because space itself is teeming with movements on this album. Like on a long-lost Edgar Froese opus, its shimmer seems immense, nigh on intangible yet impossible to ignore, insistently delicate yet difficult to resist when pieces of music refuse to blend into the background noise, preferring instead to be arresting and not leave the listener’s peripheral field of view. 

The resulting aural tableau – stolen from eternity and captured for scrutiny – could be boiled down to minimalism if it wasn’t so intense sometimes, as befits a living microcosm. That’s why opener “Chrysalis” is possessed by latent beauty, and the number’s tentative spirituality, which waves of church organ and otherworldly synthesizer roll into focus, will come diluted with crystalline dewdrops and ethereal bubbles – the pockets of chaos in the melody’s logic architecture – gradually gaining momentum only to ebb away again. Layered afresh to fly off analog ivories, these sparkles bring a sort of static electricity to the platter’s title track whose quarter-hour ripples are given a cymbals rustle and bass rumble – albeit very subtle as not to ruin the cut’s emotional equilibrium but let the anxiety progress along an almost-dance groove towards bliss.

Perhaps posed to be perceived as facultative yet, in fact, coming across as necessary, indispensable part of the album is its 40-minute bonus “The Haber Process” – originally housed on the Londoner’s ensemble’s album – where acoustic piano plays more than a prominent role. While electronic lines provide smoke and mirrors, unembellished keys and vibes, plus dynamically oscillating pulse, allow one’s mind to get immersed in the ever-shifting wonder of any particular instance of the tune’s understated grandeur that may reflect folklore and symphonic influences Galloway’s but also ultimately bring out Malcolm’s love for baroque exquisiteness – and, quite likely, honky tonk recklessness too.

Rather unusual, yes – and fascinating.


November 21, 2021

Category(s): Reviews
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