Exposé Online banner

Abel Ganz — Abel Ganz
(Abel Records ARAG003CD, 2014, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-08-24

Abel Ganz Cover art

Hard to believe it’s been over 25 years since this Scottish band’s debut The Dangers of Strangers, and while drummer Denis Smith is still behind the kit and contributing vocals, key founding members Hugh Carter and Huw Montgomery are only present on one song or another as guests, with Carter contributing lyrics to one tune, and most of the current core band members have joined during or after the band’s previous 2008 album Shooting Albatross. Most of the songwriting is group written, but one can bet that keyboardist Jack Webb had a major role in that department, as did vocalist / guitarist Mick Macfarlane and guitarist Davie Mitchell. Stephen Donnely plays bass throughout, and the newest member is keys player Stephen Lightbody – so new in fact, that he only plays on one track. Theirs is a majestic sound combining strong folk and Celtic elements with a solid foundation of progressive rock, hints of country, classical, and more.

After an opening symphonic instrumental “Delusions of Grandeur,” the band gets right down to business with the 23 minute 5-part opus “Obsolescence,” which was probably recorded in five parts and then stitched together, but that matters not, it is very effective as an opener and sets the tone for everything that follows. A couple pieces are sung partially or entirely in the Scottish Gaelic language; one of these is the beautiful and tranquil “Heartland” which features guest vocalist Joy Dunlop, the other being the down-home and warm “Thank You” which features Jerry Donahue (guitar) and Malcolm Jones (accordion) of the Scottish folk band Runrig. A couple Macfarlane penned acoustic guitar pieces “Spring” and “A Portion of Noodles” punctuate the program nicely, the latter with an unforgettable melody that will get stuck in your head for days. There are numerous guests playing everything from additional 12-string, resonator guitar, congas, recorders, oboe, flute, cornet, tenor horn, euphonium, trombone, trumpet, low whistle, saxophones, and much more, all track depending. Of special note is pedal steel player Iain Sloan, who makes several appearances throughout the album, and brightens up every passage he touches. Of all the Abel Ganz releases to date, this latest is by far their most impressive.

Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Abel Ganz

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Tatsuya Yoshida & Ron Anderson - A Is for Accident – This duo of Yoshida on drums and vocals and Anderson on guitar and vocals, is rather in the style of Ruins, the group which Yoshida a led, along with various bassists, and occasional guitarists....  (1999) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues