With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ – Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate May 15, 2020


Space rock-aligned prog-rock isn’t normally a genre that I would seek out. Which is strange. Because I love it. As you may have noticed if you’ve read my recent series of blogposts about Pink Floyd’s near-mythical gig at a tiny Quaker village hall in 1967, I am very much on board.

As well as the awesome band name, which sounds more like a post-rock band than a prog band (Godspeed You! Black Emperor & And So I Watch You From Afar, anyone?), the backstory and artwork are spectacular. The cover art for ‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ is beautiful and bleak. People with boxes on their heads, standing in the mist beside a grey and imposing wall is certainly the kind of image you’d expect to see for an album like this. Seven (of twelve) of the tracks on ‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ are based upon the novels by Science Fiction novelist Alastair Reynolds. I am already a huge fan of Reynold’s novels and included one of them, ‘Blue Remembered Earth’, in my blogpost about the 10 books which influenced me the most. This makes me particularly excited, going in.

The first track, “Century Rain” starts with a wash of keyboard and guitar ambience which just screams the word “SPACE” at you. Embedded in this ambient soundscape (which sounds how the mist on the cover art looks) is an arpeggiated synth line which sounds like it’s straight out of a Vangelis composition. You almost expect Harrison Ford’s dulcet tones and the harsh electronic bleeping of the Voight-Kampf test to emerge, dreamlike, from the aural mist. The arpeggiated synths are used throughout the album, as are the calming, ambient soundscapes. Both this song and the second track, “Twin Earth”, are based upon the novel called ‘Century Rain’ by Alastair Reynolds. It’s a gritty detective story set Paris during an alternative 1950s where, despite the failure of the Nazis, fascism still rose unchecked across Europe. As well as that, it’s also a time-travelling story of post nanocaust (pretty much how it sounds) survivors battling against the nanite swarms on Earth’s surface and attempting to save alternative Earths. I’ve probably oversimplified it as it’s a long time since I read it, the music does justice to it though.

“Ark”, a song about the World War 2 British aircraft carrier, Ark Royal, starts off with some gentle keyboards and guitars before changing up into several distinct sections built around piano and guitar. The various sections representing different periods in the Ark’s life, from its construction and launch, through to the sinking of the Bismarck and the eventual sinking of the Ark Royal herself. It’s a stirring piece of music and it has the potential to be particularly exciting in a live setting. The following track, “Chasing Neon”, is a retrofuturistic instrumental with more Vangelis-esque analogue synth workout with crunchy arpeggiated bass, floating vaporwave pads and mechanical, robotic rhythms. It’s actually quite unlike anything else on the record and has a wonderful video with visuals to match the vaporwave Bladerunner aesthetic (Check it out below).

After this, we dive back into the worlds of sci-fi with songs about nanotech tumours “Nanobotoma” & a four-track sequence: “Glitterband”, “Conjoiners”, “Scorpio” and “Inhibitors” based on the Alastair Reynolds epic Space Opera, the Revelation Space series. I have it on my shelf but am yet to read it. These are dramatic compositions full of menacing piano, changeable rhythms, and virtuous guitar playing. The penultimate track, “Voyager”, takes us back up into space, inspired as it is by the exciting journey of Voyager 1. It is a gentle, synth-led instrumental with lilting melodies and complex rhythms. The closing track, “The Sixth Extinction”, addresses the impending environmental breakdown by way of upbeat rhythms, alternating choppy and crunchy guitar riffs, and early ‘90’s funk metal-style fast speak-singing. The anthemic nature of the chorus further lends to this feeling while the lead guitar leads things firmly back into the land of prog.

‘Nostalgia for Infinity’ is available on CD & all the usual digital distributors.

Written by Tom Ray

The photos were sourced via Google and the videos via YouTube. If any of them are yours and you would like a credit or for them to be taken down please let me know.

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‘Transitions’ – Malcolm Galloway August 22, 2019


Malcolm Galloway from talented and in my opinion unsung prog rock/ electronica band Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate has a new solo album out now. It is called ‘Transitions’ and Malcolm says it is very much influenced by the personal transitions he is going through, he suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a genetic collagen disorder. This causes joints and soft tissue to hurt and flare up unpredictably. Additionally, it causes nausea, fatigue, vomiting, and problems with the autonomic nervous system. It is an invisible disability, where the sufferer looks completely normal from the outside. This illness means that he has to leave his job as a neuropathologist, but he continues to make great music.

I have listened to ‘Transitions’ a few times now and I seem to find something new in the rich layered soundscapes every time I do. It is an instrumental album and I have benefited from listening to it while working on some intricate spreadsheets at work, relaxing at home and walking to the office. At times I felt the music owed a small debt to early Mike Oldfield, but that is not to take anything away from Malcolm’s achievement. This really is a beautiful suite of music. It runs to just over 45 minutes and contains three tracks; “Pattern Jugglers”, “Slow” and “Transition”, with the latter clocking in at more than 30 minutes. I feel that the album as a whole, but the epic title track, in particular, bear comparison with Philip Glass and at times Brian Eno. Although perhaps not quite as minimalist as some of Eno’s ambient masterpieces. I don’t know if Malcolm has ever considered writing the soundtrack to a film, or maybe he has done so. Either way, I think he could score some superb music for films. If you have never listened to Malcolm Galloway or Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate then now is the time to start. Click here to listen to ‘Transitions’ on Spotify. I for one am now really looking forward to getting to grips with the new Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate album; ‘Ark’.

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‘Out Of Mind’ – Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate January 16, 2019


Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate is probably the finest band name that I have heard in years. These talented London prog rockers have a new album out, it is called ‘Out Of Mind’ on Glass Castle Records.  and it is rather splendid. This band are steeped in the genealogy of the finest Prog Rock to emanate from the fair shores of Blighty. If you like Genesis, Marillion, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and maybe even Uriah Heep you will love Hat’s Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate. But they are more than just prog, I can hear Brian Eno here and maybe a little Bowie inflection in the vocals. ‘Out Of Mind’ is for me a superb album to listen to on headphones in a darkened room surrounded by joss sticks and smoking a fat one. The sound is that of a huge band, but from a recording perspective this is the sound of two (sometimes three) people; Malcolm Galloway Vocalist, guitarist and keyboards, Mark Gatland, Bass, more keyboards , backing vox. They are occasionally aided and abetted by Kathryn Thomas on flute and more vocals. The orchestration and production throughout is truly stunning. Just to prove they have endless talent the production was magnificently handled by Galloway and Gatland.

The album has an English cinematic feel streaked with science fiction overtones. There is a beautiful melancholy feel throughout and it is certainly and album I will return to again and again. Just getting this review together has seen me play it end to end six times. My favourite tune from the record at the moment is “The Rose That Was Red In The Dark” although that may well change on the next spin. Album closer “Lidice” has a hypnotic Mike Oldfield circa ‘Tubular Bells’ feel in the music and it is overlayed with a gorgeous, fragile and emotional vocal from Malcolm Galloway. Lidice was a small mining village in Czechoslovakia, which was razed to the ground by the Nazis during World War 2. They deliberately killed 88 children and 252 adults, in reprisal for the assassination by resistance fighters of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the chief architects of the Holocaust. Listen to this song and try not to become even a tad emotional, I dare you.

Philip K Dick is noted as the inspiration for two songs in this collection; “Coming Back (Time Out Of Joint)” from his novel ‘Time Out Of Joint’ and “The Electric Ant” another of my favourite tunes on this LP which is a kind of proggy electronica take on drum and bass, it was inspired by a Philip K Dick short story. Literary references abound with a story from Ann Leckie’s Ancilliary series proving the background and subject for “When I Was A Ship”. Even ancient anatomy texts are prominent with “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” drawn from the Vesalius book of the same name which was published in 1543. Do you need to be a Prog fan to like this album? No of course you don’t, all you need is to be a lover of wonderfully put together meaningful rock music. I urge you to give your lugholes a treat and take a listen to ‘Out Of Mind’ now!

Public Service Announcement: all pictures were sourced via Google and the videos via YouTube. If they are yours and you would either like a credit or for me to take them down please let me know.

 

 
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