Sunday, 13 May 2012

Guillemots - Hello Land!


guillemots are back and they've changed their philosophy. It's only been a year since the mediocre 'Walk The River' was released and toured extensively. It’s been even longer, six years in fact, since Guillemots were on form with 'Through The Windowpane'. 'Trains To Brazil' and many other indie rock anthems featured on this album, which was released on Polder records. Guillemots are now independent, and free (look at that album cover), they return with their first album out of a promised four for 2012. That'd four albums, and if the other three are as strong as this, we have some serious business organizing the top 50 of 2012 list.

Hello Land! is the fourth album by Guillemots, and it's by far the most surreal. Dynamic changes and shoegaze drones make up the majority of the album, with indie folk / soft rock material at the helm. One of the most exciting aspects to this album is the freedom of a record label and 'single' dominance. They're quite simply releasing an album full of material they’re comfortable with releasing, without financial constraints and expectations. Opening track 'Spring Bells' is peaceful and represents all the classical instrumentation and melancholy beauty that is inevitably coming your way. The listener will be enchanted by the soft sounds of forest-esque atmosphere in a sort of Harry Potter fashion. Acoustic guitars suddenly enter, with a lo-fi progression and relaxed atmosphere. 'Up On The Ride' is the most radio-friendly track on the album, and it’s the tack that sounds most like U2. 80's U2 when they had little to moan about, this is the elegance of Fyfe Dangerfield, who lives in Norway. This album was recorded in Norway along with many other musical pieces which will feature on a later Guillemots album. The first half to Up On The Ride is a melodic folk rock symphony, with delicate soundscapes which borders ambient music, the latter half kicks in with a bang after a thorough female spoken word segment about life... Among other topics. The electric guitar cracks open the track, with the exciting bass riff and background instrumentation which is enigmatic. The choir-like female vocals enter with an astounding amount of reverb. This is now a ballad, and vocals lay all over the track. The rhythm is perfect and the 'Christmassy' refrain sang by the females is gorgeous. 

'Fleet' has lovely orchestration. there’s something about this kind of music that I just love. It's the spring album out of the four, released in May and I'm listening with the sun shining bright into this lovely village in Leicestershire. Female vocals are agonizingly beautiful, and the double bass playing stands out in my mind. The drumming is just the right volume and doesn’t cramp the track; it does its job and never feels in the way or out of the way. The beauty continues with 'Southern Winds'. I'm hearing a mix between Bon Iver / Martin Carthy, outstanding vocals and an even better recording of acoustic instruments. The layers add capacity, with reverb playing a vital role in creating this folk sound Fyfe is going for.

Drummer Greig Stewart sings the clear vocal (I think... My fact checker, Google, isn't that impressive this time) on 'Outside'. The Scottish vocal sticks in the mind as memories of King Creosote kick in. In traditional Guillemots style, the track turns in a completely different direction. Electronics enter with a very sophisticated vocal effort by Fyfe which could be placed among the latest M83 album. A little downtempo section takes place, as Fyfe continues his brilliant vocal. Odd instrumentation takes over towards the end of this track, with trip-hop, IDM and ambient forcing the track to a steady close. 'Nothing’s Going To Bring Me Down' possesses some of the best lyrical segments on the album, "Nothing’s going to bring me down, I couldn’t get any lower anyway". This track is ultimately about the instrumentation. In a sort of James Morrison / Adele kind of soft rock, adult contemporary style, this track slows the pace down, it takes the normal progressions of an acoustic guitar and replaces it with double bass, orchestration and a thumping keyboard.

'Byebyeland' has its moments of excellence. Four minutes of contemporary classical makes way for the following five minutes of dreamy orchestration and bright instrumentation. The band becomes complete, and absolutely takes charge of the climatic ending. The first four minutes build-up with a recurring military styled drum and a very heavy organ drone and powerful sounds of stringed instruments. The sound is catastrophic and has elements of shoegaze mixed with classical which really has to be heard. It’s not longwinded at nine minutes either, it’s perfectly laid out. 'I Lie Down' continues the outstretched shoegze drones. The vocals are very withdrawn and sudden whooshes of female vocals create a vivid atmosphere which sets alight the heavy beat. This beat features a much textured drum pattern and a very heavy bass drum. The gospel like vocals enter with great dominant effect as Fyfe restarts his high pitched refrains. The ending is climatic with instrumentation coming in from all over the shot. The track comes to a steady ending with slide guitar and studio soundscapes, lovely finish to the album. The first of four and definitely the best Guillemots record since 2006.
~Eddie

7.5

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