Monday, 27 January 2014

Discovery: Cavaliers - Silhouettes

The state of our current music industry is in freefall because make or break releases and social media / internet campaigns have steered new music away from its grassroots history. It's a shock to see so many artists and albums being labelled 'the best thing since' by PR people using irregular wording for something so plain and unoriginal that even a naked cover couldn’t sell it. So when we receive requests from artists at a pure and grassroots level, well we start to get excited. There's nothing more viable than an artist selling you their product, musicians and salesmen alike have the same job of capturing the buyer, the listener. So when an artist takes the email-to-email approach of expanding their reach, we act.

Cavaliers is the pseudonym for multi-instrumentalist Jason Galea, with Silhouettes being Galea's first public release. Galea has shied away from the public domain, having previously worked on his music in private over the past year. Where the working band come together to create and display an array of sounds, Galea does alone. Silhouettes is like the silent private note left beside a bed before tragedy occurs, it's the sound of a man deep in thought, and oozing with creativity. The sound of Cavaliers doesn't differentiate often enough throughout Silhouettes, but the soundscapes, eased production value, and straight forward thinking of its progressions makes for an enchanting listen.

Influenced by dream pop sounds such as Galaxie 500 and Beach House, Galea and his guitar embark on an instrumental journey. It's not alone though, like the impressive instrumental art rockers that come before him. Silhouettes is like a basic, less atmospheric version of Vini Reilly's The Durruti Collumn. A hefty chunk of Silhouettes is personalised by Galea's additional percussion and bass accompaniment - "The Dreamers" / "Art House Heroes" / "Gasoline Lung". Then there's the softer, more melodic side to the Cavaliers sound - "The Space Inbetween" / "Deja Vu" / "Crocodile Tears" / "Obsidian". In contrast to these dreary, reverb reliant recordings, Silhouettes features an array of attempted shoegaze, which seems to come across less accurate with the production funding and lack of generated noise - "The Immortalist" / "Secrets In Whispers" / "Atlas" / "Pyramids". Its evident Galea would like built-up, powerful recordings alike the shoegaze masterminds in My Bloody Valentine - taking influence from the layering of guitars, meanwhile the melodic dream pop side to Silhouettes comes from the electronic drum beat Cocteau Twins are known for.

Silhouettes is somewhat ambient, but only to the extent of how Wild Nothing can be considered ambient through their incredible soundscape recordings and downtempo style. "Ghost Notes" sounds like it could've been a cut from Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II. There's skill in these recordings, with Galea having a real ear for, eeriness and the working effect of how one effect goes well with a basic two note keyboard riff. But there's still room for improvement plastered all over Silhouettes, from the basic level of singular piano notes to the choky instrumentation used with Galea's guitar. "Phantom Limb" shows a different sound to Cavaliers than the previous 12 tracks. It's a slowed down recording, using two layers of guitar and a spacious hi-hat, moving the track along below the speed limit. The feel of "Phantom Limb" seems to bare a resemblance the early work of ambient / post-rock outfit Sigur Ros, but without the enduring progression and a full, raw band to emerge as a threat, rather than a one-man effort, which just may be Galea's downfall with Silhouettes

That being said, Galea covers all the bases well, showing signs of potential for something far greater than a secret bedroom recording. "Modern Martyrs" is one of Silhouettes highlights - the light electric guitar riff matches the percussion, and Galea progresses the track well with a variety of effects and a more thunderous layer of guitar near the half-way mark. The opening 20 seconds sound more like a Low / Red House Painters hybrid than the dream pop of Silhouettes opening tracks. This creates an interesting pallet of influences from where Galea takes his sound from, and where he would like to take his sound. With instrumental music, musicians can't rely on a certain lyric, or aspect of pop structure to gain high marks, but Galea can do this in the same way The Durutti Column became successful - the same applies to Red House Painters.

What Galea lacks in singer song-writing, he makes up for in sound. Silhouettes is a personal reflective piece, just like the album title's meaning. Galea has hid behind his music for quite some time, in a silhouette mask, so to speak. Under the pseudonym Cavaliers, Galea has managed to express his musical thoughts, and created an album worthy of a listen for any dream pop / instrumental rock fan. Yeah, sound wise Silhouettes could be improved, but for a first release as a recording artist, Galea has successfully created intrigue surrounding his music. There's a possibility for Cavaliers to be more than a one man project though, with a drummer and accompanying guitar to Galea, it could really take off as an instrumental rock project with others offering their creativity. But for now, Galea can be proud of his unearthed and public material available on bandcamp here.
~Eddie Gibson