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Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate — Feeling Great
(Bandcamp no#, 2020, DL)

Malcolm Galloway — Wasp 76b
(Bandcamp no#, 2020, DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-05-16

Feeling Great Cover artWasp 76b Cover art

Both of the EPs at hand feature British keyboardist Malcolm Galloway (and with his group project Hats Off… he also plays guitar and sings) and were released in late November 2020, which I suppose will forever be remembered as the year of the pandemic, or maybe the year of government lockdowns, or maybe the year that all musicians lost their ability to play out and tour. Any way one looks at it, it was a lousy year and 2021 doesn’t seem to be shaping up much better so far. Galloway’s solo release Wasp 76b contains only three tracks, and the last of those is a 40 minute bonus track “The Haber Process” from his Still Life album (2016). The opener is the five-plus minute “Chrysalis,” what could best be described as synthesizer-based impressionist classical music, a magical cauldron of shimmering beauty that seems to be forever changing and evolving, and though it’s over all too soon, it leaves the listener prepared for the fifteen-minute title track that follows, a golden slab of sequenced minimalism that compares favorably to the early 70s Berlin School work of pioneers like Klaus Schulze and others. The piece features enough turns and twists and melodic shimmer to maintain interest over the long haul. The alorementioned bonus track “The Haber Process” is a similarly constructed minimalist piece in the Steve Reich vein; over twice as long as the title track but only half as interesting, though I’m sure students of this style will likely find plenty herein to enjoy.

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate is Galloway’s band project, and this time out it’s a duo with guitarist / bassist / Chapman Stick player Mark Gatland (some of their earlier releases featured three or more players and additional vocalists, but this is the band stripped down to its core). Feeling Great? That’s probably a load of sarcasm — the whole thing sounds a bit depressing to me. Remember those songs on the B-Side of Atom Heart Mother? Yeah, very mellow and low key songs they were, and the opening title track (with Galloway on vocals) and “Struggling,” a bluesy instrumental with Galloway offering his best Gilmouresque guitar lead, while Gatland plays keyboard on this one; both cuts tend to be somewhat restrained overall, though the bluesy power in “Struggling” commands attention. With the third cut “Callisto Cuddle Sponge” the group finally goes uptempo, an instrumental with programmed drums, some great Stick playing by Gatland, and a big symphonic prog keyboard sound. There’s a five-minute bonus track “Skyline,” an instrumental electronic piece by Galloway from 2011 that was never previously released, and it’s an outstanding cut, maybe the best thing on the EP.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, Malcolm Galloway

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