Gilmore Trail – Impermanence: Album Review

Gilmore Trail ends six years of silence with a brooding collection.

gilmore trail

Release Date: 21st January 2022

Label: Chasmata Records

Format: LP / digital / CD

Sheffield’s premier instrumental rock four-piece (…not quite sure what the instrumental rock scene is like in South Yorkshire so we’ll take what it says in the blurb) is a new band on us. Perhaps the six-year silence since 2015’s The Floating World hasn’t helped. We can always catch up.

The challenge of having no words to hang onto is countered with a series of pieces that provide a musical record of change, transition and uncertainty. Yes, a very common train of thought to the majority of us these days. The seven tracks of Impermanence each offer their own response to these underlying core themes. Topical to the extent of completing the music prior to world events, Impermanence provides an eerie foreseeing of things to come.

The standard tropes of instrumental/Post Rock make their moves across several extended arrangements which are allowed to breath and hang around ominously. The light and shade, and the loud and quiet contrasts make their presence felt in an ongoing presence of steady waves.

There’s also a case of the track titles doing what it says on the tin. Eight minutes of Ruins slowly tread their way towards an explosive climax where all hell breaks loose and the musical collapse invokes images of skeletons of buildings devastated by war. Followed by Convalescence, in the wake of the climax, the calm after the storm comes in shorter pieces that provide atmospheric punctuation points. Convalescence and Nocturne are close cousins, the latter opening with a distant storm, and both led by gentle guitar riding washes of strings that offer a soft buffetting.

The relaxed mood and gentle chiming that introduces Distant Reflection shifts tack halfway after a repetitive guitar figure pitches in, to a shrill tsunami and all guns ablaze on a false climax before the opening ambience returns. Listen carefully for the contribution of sound practitioner Sally Blyth who provides the mesmeric singing bowls.

The natural world – indeed the lonely whale – is brought to musical life on Echoes Of Solitude; life at sea in music. Close your eyes and again, images of slo-mo nature photography immediately bears fruit. Perhaps the track where the contrasts are at their most extreme, the balance between virtual silence, the sax contributions and the might of being overcome by waves of dense. Kudos to Martin Archer, the owner of Discus Music, who gifts this huge piece.

And talking of images evoked by the music, The Zone Of Silence pays reference to an abandoned area of Mexico steeped in legends of magnetic anomalies and wildlife mutation. The feeling of walking through the landscape and encountering threat is conveyed through what are possibly the heaviest passages on the album. Repetitive and hypnotic depth charges that wouldn’t be out of place with a Dark Metal/Doom outfit. The zone of silence takes an ugly and unexpected turn.

Embodying everything the record represents, philosophically, personally and musically, is the title-track and closer; what the band call: “our summation not only of the album’s central theme, but of life itself. From innocent beginnings, we navigate through multiple changes in our lives before reaching an inevitable conclusion – we believe that it is what we do in such moments of change that come to define us.” The charm of the easy opening sequence gets the standard contrast treatment with some unabashed and powerful riffing and increasing intensity. Arguably saving the best till last, the result might have you flicking back to an encore of the showcase title track and celebrate a welcome return.

Here’s the video for Ruins:

Gilmore Trail online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Youtube

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