I’ve always been super impressed with the way Gilla Band push the limitations of a four piece guitar band. Combining post punk grooves, harsh slabs of noise and electro clash euphoria, every new release has always struck me with equal amounts of excitement and fear. Robbed of their usual ability to road test new material, third album ‘Most Normal’ sees Gilla Band at their most instinctive. It is not only a further exploration of the sounds created in early material, but also a look into fresh territories.
‘Backwash’ has an almost hip-hop quality to its subby bass line and crispy drum beat, while ‘Bin Liner Fashion’ and ‘Capgras’ are amongst some of the most angular, punk inspired moments they’ve captured. But what I really like about this album is its structure. I feel like its first half is much more rowdy and noise fuelled, whilst its second half brings in something almost in the way of melody. ‘I Was Away’ and ‘Almost Soon’ have a New York indie sharpness, particularly in the guitar tone. I’d go as far as to say that the latter sounds like The Strokes on smack! Though last track ‘Post Ryan’ brings back the nasty, with some filthy bass squelching over another dance floor filling beat.
Vocalist Dara Kiely has always given us his all vocally, but here he really opens up and delivers some of his most personal lyrics to date. Relationships and mental health have been deeply rooted within the band’s back catalogue, but there’s a plain speaking honesty in ‘Most Normal’ that really hits hard, particularly in the self deprecating rawness of the aforementioned ‘Post Ryan’. Gilla Band really let everything loose on this record, lyrically more direct and musically as urgent and visceral as ever. This is possibly their best to date!
It was clear from the off that this Halifax formed trio had grand ideas. Following an extremely assured debut, 2020 saw a deeper dive into vintage hooks and psych pop with the equally excellent ‘Disco Volador’. So, it doesn’t really come as much of a shock for The Orielles‘ third album to be a double LP that pushes their experimental side to the max. ‘Tableau’ was created over the summer of last year, formed through live improvisations and lots of tinkering about with whatever they could get their hands on.
The result is pretty cosmic and whimsical, taking that three piece indie rock sound and adding in electronic bleeps, tape loops and orchestral swirls to elevate the listener into a dreamy state of euphoria. This is certainly a record that needs to be consumed as a whole and its more expansive, experimental nature has not been built to feel immediate or urgent. On first listen I found myself craving a bubble gum pop hook, but swim in deeper and you’ll find it’s all there.
From the pysch rock grooves of ‘The Instrument’, ‘Airtight’ and ‘Television’ to the bewildering soundscape-y pop of ‘Drawn and Defined’, ‘Some Day Later’ and ‘Beam/s’, there is something very encompassing about the arrangements here. They will soak themselves into your soul on repeated listens. ‘Tableau’ is a testament to the chemistry that lies deep within The Orielles, as well as their varied music collections. It might not quite be the catchy disco pop of yore, but there’s so much craft and atmosphere baked into this record that pushes the band gallantly forward. At this point The Orielles can go anywhere and we will happily follow.
Gordon Chapman-Fox has been creating and releasing electronic music since 2003, and this latest project of his has been making quite the waves in the synth world. 2021 saw two album releases from Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan, which not only topped many end of year lists but also sold out in a flash each time a new pressing was released on vinyl. Now comes album three, ‘Districts, Roads, Open Space’, a glorious continuation of the enveloping electronica we’ve come to love from Mr Chapman-Fox.
Having been engulfed by the likes of Worriedaboutsatan and Craven Faults recently, this is very much up my street. Long, winding stretches of layered synths and hypnotic patterns blend, intertwine and build in unison like on intoxicating opener ‘Golden Square’. Or in the case of ‘Community Square’ and ‘Old Hall’, which are helped along with bustling percussion and 808 style beats. With the project very much taking inspiration from the towns it’s named after, I can feel that expansive, utopian texture deep within.
Gordon has acknowledged this material as being lonely and spacious. Having lived in Warrington for a few years, I can picture myself walking around the city centre late at night surveying its architecture, soaking in the more melancholic soundscapes this album offers. However, there is a warmth and sense of optimism that runs particularly thick through closing track ‘Buzby’s Lullaby’ that takes this record towards a rather beautiful conclusion. This is about the lives that lived within these spaces more than the space itself. In short, ‘Districts, Roads, Open Space’ is a striking piece that is the work of a strong, forward moving force in British electronica.